Life is a Jungle Gym + WIAW

Life is a jungle gym.

 

Did anyone else read Lean In?

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg refers to your career being a jungle gym rather than a ladder.  The same goes for life.  The secret, in my opinion, is to be flexible and not to let things get too under your skin.

success

 

A couple of weeks ago, I began a cleanse.  I’d been developing some bad habits and was feeling bloated and “meh.”  I also decided to have a food intolerance test done.  It turns out I had a lot of intolerances!  (Click here for more on that.)  Given that I was going to have to cut a lot of things from my diet, I ditched the cleanse.  Wheeeee…. monkey swing to the next bar!

The cleanse wasn’t so hard to give up – I was to the point of having protein back and my every levels are off the charts again.  (Side note: I’m still amazed by how that lack of protein wiped me out – and I was still getting as much as most of America eats!)  The harder part was figuring out how to avoid staple foods that I’d developed intolerances to.  No drugs, bro.

No drugs

 

My diet/nutrition a jungle gym.  Flexibility is key.  I have a choice to stay where I was and continue to feel uncomfortable, or to make some changes.  The food elimination is only 3-6 months (depending on the degree of sensitivity).  That’s not that long – a small price for me to pay for a solution.  So.  Here I go…

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This WIAW is second day with my food intolerances eliminated from my diet.  I’m sure I’ve slipped up (especially with cow’s milk), but I’m getting the hang of it.  Now that I’ve started, it’s not quite as bad as I made it out to be in my head. *knock on wood*

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Read on for my eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else’s delicious creations!… 

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Protein Lessons + WIAW

Learning lessons is a theme in my life lately.

 

Some I’d rather not learn, but that’s another story.

Despite having done this cleanse 3 times before, I’m learning a whole new lesson with this one.  It’s about protein.  I had NO idea how much energy and strength I was getting from all the protein I took in!  The first 10 days of the cleanse are meat-free.  It also eliminates common allergens, so I can’t even replace that protein with soy, dairy or eggs.

I have a delicious, clean pea protein powder from Growing Naturals that accounts for most of my intake.  I also have some from quinoa, lentils, and seeds… but that’s really not much.  With the “rules” of the cleanse, I end up eating about half my normal amount of protein and twice the carbs.  Carbs give energy, right?  Notsomuch.  I’m tired.  I’m sleeping more and having to lift lighter.  Apparently carbs give energy when you have enough protein.

back/tri workout

I did get through my back and tri workout.  Fueled by dates and tahini, I took a moment to twerk in the empty squat rack for Arman and Lucie.  Refueled with a protein smoothie made with strawberries, raspberries, basil, coconut, and spinach.

 

Lesson two is hunger.  I’m a bottomless veggie pit.  I eat stacks of vegetables (and fruit), but they don’t have the same staying power that protein does.  Kudos to the vegan body builders out there… I have no idea how they do it!

Curious about protein?  Click here for a piece I wrote for Growing Naturals on the importance of protein before and after a workout.  And then check out these 30 High Protein Breakfasts from many of my FitFluential friends!

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This WIAW is the end of my first week on the 21 day cleanse.  I’m definitely in a good groove, but anxious to add some lean protein in on Friday!

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Read on for my eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else’s delicious creations!… 

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Super Clean Eating is Fun

People turn their noses up at the word “cleanse.”

 

Yet they embrace the McDonald’s…

This cleanse is my favorite because you can eat.  Don’t get me wrong, I do miss peanut butter and meat.  However, judging from the way my body has responded, I needed the break.  I’ll refrain from the TMI, but let’s just say I’m definitely cleaner!

The other awesome thing about this cleanse is the creativity it inspires.  Check out of some the fun stuff I’ve made in the past few days!

Saucy Plate… 

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Creamy (Raw) Red Pepper Soup

Rules can inspire creativity.

 

Translation: no body puts baby in a corner!

One of my favorite things about this particular cleanse is that, while there are parameters, the rules are easy to work within.

For instance, one of the guidelines is to eat more raw veggies than cooked.  I love raw vegetables, but sometimes that can get a bit boring.  Raw soup, on the other hand… that’s interesting!  Eating a soup raw may seem strange, but it really is good.  And perfect for this warmer weather!

Creamy Raw Red Pepper Soup

 

The cool thing about this chilled soup is the creaminess.  The avocado and hemp seeds lend healthy fats and a smooth, cooling factor that is perfect against the jalapeño kick.

Red pepper and carrots add a natural sweetness.  It’s still early in the season, so I added just a bit of stevia.  I may or may not have added an extra jalapeño in my version… don’t worry, that’s not in the recipe as written below.

Red Pepper Soup

 

All you need is a blender to make this souper-easy soup.  I used my Vitamix, but any high-speed blender would work.  If you chop up the veggies a little more, I think you could even make it in a Magic Bullet!

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Raw Red Pepper Soup

Creamy Raw Red Pepper Soup

  • 1 C warm water
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 T hemp seeds
  • 1 T red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Optional: 3-4 drops lemon liquid Stevia

 

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender (I used a Vitamix) and process until thick and smooth.  Allow to run for 4-5 minutes until slightly warm.

Makes 4 sides or 2 larger servings.

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How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table

Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)



***

I always feel a little high after eating raw – is that just me?

What inspires (or forces) you to think outside the box in the kitchen?

Are you a raw food fan?

 

Work It Out: Kitchen Edition

You can’t out crunch a bad diet.

 

Where’s the chocolate-lovers ab diet?!

Today’s Work It Out post is a little different.  Usually I feature a new workout technique, but this post-Thanksgiving week I’m being a little selfish.  I need to Work It Out in the Kitchen.  Like many others, I indulged throughout the Thanksgiving holiday.  No regrets – it was fantastic – but now I need to reset and not let that sweet tooth take over all the way into the new year.

 

When I start with the sweet tooth and red wine other indulgences it quickly becomes a habit.  At one point I was eating dessert after every meal… including breakfast.  What works for me is to go cold turkey (pun intended) to reset myself.  I’ve done this in the past through my favorite cleanse, but I haven’t gotten to the “emergency” point yet.  This time around I’m going back to the basics.

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Leading up to Christmas I’m going to be doing a Kitchen Workout in addition to my normal routine.  This isn’t about weight loss (my new diet is actually focused on gaining – more on that tomorrow).  The Kitchen Workout is about eating to fuel your body properly.  Eating clean makes me feel energized, keeps my skin clear, and improves my ability to focus.

The following guidelines are what works for me.  For example, I know that I can’t have just a little sugar and stop.  Therefore, I’m cutting it out.  I also know that I can’t be too strict on myself or I’ll go full-speed in the opposite direction.  A Saturday “cheat day” will be employed. :)

 

The Kitchen Workout

  • Eat clean – minimize processed foods
  • Cut out the sugar (except fruit)
  • Limited dining out
  • Keep sodium to a minimum
  • No drinking on “school nights”
  • Stick to complex carbs
  • Eat small meals throughout the day
  • Take in plenty of protein to feel full and build muscle
  • Incorporate vegetables into each meal

 

Who else wants to join in the Kitchen Workout?

A good support/accountability network is a big part of staying on track!  Feel free to steal the #KitchenWorkout graphic and show your clean eating pride!  I’ll be sharing some new recipes, as well as more tips for holiday survival.

To get started, check out these posts for more ideas on eating clean:

 

For some initial food ideas?  Here are a few clean recipes that won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing anything:

 

Maple TVP “Oatmeal”

 

 Crab Eggs Benedict, Lightened Up

 

Grilled PB&J with Tofu Peanut Butter

 

Tzatziki Chickpea Tuna Salad

 

Mexican Crustless Chickpea (Vegan) Quiche

 

Fig and Edamame Kamut Berries with Sriracha-Lime Vinaigrette

 

150 Calorie Microwave Chocolate Protein Cake

 

Chewy Granola Cookies

***

The holidays have begun!  I’ve been invited to a cookie swap… I’m taking my granola cookies so I know I have a healthier option.  Can’t wait to see if anyone knows they are better for you!

Did anyone try the bicep moves Jody shared last week?

Are you making an effort to keep it clean over the holiday season?

 

Building Blocks

The human body is pretty incredible.

 

25 days ago (pre-cleanse) I was nowhere near the abs I wanted.  My diet was not terrible, but could use improvement.  I was lifting weights, but had hit a plateau with my upper body and all but neglecting legs.  It was time to take the next step in building a better me.

The pictures below are my progress:

 

 

The top pic is upper body.  I’ve managed to up my weight on many exercises, not the least of which is lat raises.  Those has always been a weak point for me.

The bottom left ab pic was taken at week 2 of the cleanse and the right was taken yesterday (11 days later… I promise I washed this outfit in that time).  I wish I’d had a before!  I’ve ALWAYS wanted 6-pack abs and I’m so close right now it hurts.

This is thanks to 25 days of pushing harder and building a solid foundation with a clean, plant-based diet.  It can be done!

 

Believe in yourself and anything is possible.

 

I also have to make a confession – I almost didn’t post the ab pic.  In fact, yesterday I posted it on Instagram and purposefully didn’t like it to Twitter.  I was scared to share my progress with a larger audience!

Then I remembered this post by Lindsay where she showed off her incredible abdominals.  She posted her post-baby ab pic to celebrate hard work, to motivate, and because she was PROUD.  And she should take pride in her hard work paying off!

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Change is hard!  It’s overwhelming to begin cleaning up your diet.

 

In the spirit of building, here’s how I built a healthy lunchtime wrap.  At least it was supposed to be a wrap… I got a little carried away with the fillings. :)

 

Step 1:

Prep veggies and slather a tortilla with spread.  I used my Raw Sweet Potato Hummus.

 

 

Step 2:

Layer your veggies on the tortilla.

 

 

My Fillings:

  • Kale
  • Broccoli and mustard sprouts
  • Beets (raw)
  • Asparagus (raw)
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Lentils  – ***These are key to making your wrap filling.  Lentils are prepared for the week every Sunday so I can quickly add bulk and protein to veggie dishes.***

 

Step 3:

Attempt to wrap the monstrosity up!  I had to eat the carrots in the side to make way for the lentils.

 

 

Step 4:

Devour.

 

 

***

Tomorrow I am trying out CrossFit for the first time!  I love a new workout. :)

Have you ever tried CrossFit?  Do you have any tips to share?

Celebrate Friday with some self-love – What accomplishment are you proud of?

 

Cleanse Recap + A New Addition

There is a new addition in my family.

 

Hang with me and you’ll see what the addition is and why I went for it…

Friday night we had another cleanse buddies dinner.  My friend Kathleen decided to begin the cleanse on Friday, so Mallory and I had a great time re-hashing our experiences with her.  (Click here for the “rules” and post #1.)

 

My first experience doing this cleanse was in November of 2010.  It was HARD.  My eating habits were not clean – I ate too many burgers, drank too much booze, and had a sugar addiction.  Needless to say, the first few days were a shock to my body.  I was tried, cold, and grouchy.  And constipated.

1 week before the 2010 cleanse

 

This time around I didn’t have as difficult a time.  My eating habits had remained fairly clean since that first cleanse; however, I noticed some old habits beginning to creep in and wanted to give my body a little reminder of how good clean feels.

 

Some observations:

  • Caffeine wasn’t as hard as I thought to give up.  My friend, Mallory, who also cleansed noted that after day 4 she actually had MORE energy without her previous 5-6 caffeinated beverages a day habit.
  • My overall energy level was excellent.  I slept better and the circles under my eyes lightened.
  • Digestively speaking… I’ve always struggled with “regularity.”  That was all better by day 3 of the cleanse.
  • At the risk of TMI, I must warn you to beware of gas – all of those greens are potent.  It’s healthy, but others around you may not appreciate that. ;)
  • My daily exercise didn’t change, and there wasn’t any difference with the amount of effort I was able to exert.  In fact, I increased my weight toward then end of week 2.  Popeye was on to something!
  • Creatively this cleanse has been a win.  Tighter food parameters force you to think outside of the box, which has resulted in some of the best meals I’ve had in a while.
  • Weight loss was NOT my goal.  I maintained my weight throughout the cleanse.  Again, my eating habits didn’t drastically change and I made an effort to have an extra protein shake or chia pudding every day.  My cleanse buddy’s eating habits changed pretty drastically… she lost 10 lbs!!!  Congrats, my bestie!
  • Hunger was never a problem.  People were always asking “aren’t you starving?”  Nope.  You would be shocked how filling veggies can be.  I actually was forcing myself to eat more some days!  I also planned ahead (see tips below) to make sure I was never caught without a food option.

 

 

The most common question I’ve been asked is surrounding how time-consuming making all of this food is.  The short answer is that yes, it takes more time.

The longer answer is that it isn’t that hard if you PLAN.  I have a full-time job and am perpetually running late – I’m not someone who has hours to spend on cooking during the week.  My cleanse-buddy has a full-time job, a 7 month old baby, and a husband that travels all week.  If we can eat clean, you can too!

 

 

Here are some ways to make clean eating easier, whether you are cleansing or simply trying to eat better.

Preparation tips:

  • Bookmark/pin/note recipes you like and write down your weekly menu.  This way when you go to make your grocery list and/or prepare meals, you can do so quickly and not worry about scrounging through the fridge to see what you could throw together.
  • Reserve time to prepare food.  On Sunday nights I make a big pot of soup, roast veggies (squash, beets, eggplant, etc), pre-cook wild rice and/or lentils, and pre-cut veggies.
  • Always keep snacks on hand.  If you are anything like me, when you don’t have anything to eat you go into “panic” mode and have the urge to grab whatever is nearby.  Don’t let that happen!  Keep veggie sticks, fresh fruit, and other healthy snack items on hand so you never have to worry.
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative.  Creative doesn’t mean difficult (these roasted tomatoes looked impressive, but were incredibly easy), but it does mean you won’t get bored with your food and abandon clean eating.  There’s no need to eat a salad every meal.
  • Prepare extra food.  Leftovers make great work-bag lunches and are easy to grab when you end up getting home later than you intended.
  • Get a good blender.  Smoothies are fast and easy, especially in the morning as you’re rushing to get ready for work.  They are also an easy way to get extra protein by adding a scoop of a good (low-sugar) protein powder, and an extra serving of veggies add a cup of spinach (the only evidence is the color).  I love my Magic Bullet because it makes the drink right in the cup… I also love my new toy.

 

A HUGE bonus to the cleanse was cost savings.  My pre-cleanse spending habits cost me about $300 more each week than I spent on the cleanse.  That means I’ve saved $900 in 3 weeks.

My bad influence friend Kathleen suggested that I take that some of that money and use it on something to help me maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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Aaaaaand that brings me to the new addition.

 

I got a VITAMIX!!! I’ve had it for 2 days and it has already changed my life.  They are pricy…. but I think it’s going to be worth every penny.

Saturday night I celebrated with Sweet Potato Ice Cream.

Vitamix > Magic Bullet

 

Sunday morning I celebrated with a thick Carrot-Mango-Ginger Smoothie.  I’ve never had such a smooth, delicious breakfast.  I’ll be adding ginger to everything I can now; it added a great zing without overshadowing the sweetness from the carrot and the mango.

Check out the recipe at the bottom of this post.  I’m dying of happiness.

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This week was a little ADD in terms of workouts.  I didn’t have a clear focus of what I wanted to do and have (once again) been slacking on cardio.  I find it really hard to do without being able to run!

I DID do my final BodyRock fit test.  Extreme soreness had me waiting a couple of days, and clearly I didn’t stick to the 30 days exactly.  Each move is done for 50 seconds, with a 10 second rest in between.  I didn’t really except to see much more progress… but I did make a little more!  Funny thing is that I’m getting worse at burpees.  I blame the push-ups leading in to them.

 

There were a couple of fun new workouts this week.  Atlanta Fitness Diva gym contacted me asking if I’d like to try a workout.  Of course I would!  That took place Thursday and kicked my butt.  Literally.  We focused on glutes and I am STILL sore.  They are a but pricey to join, but I really enjoyed the small-group circuits we did.

 

The other new addition was the GAINfitness app.  Cait @ Beyond Bananas posted about it last week.  This app will let you tell it time, equipment available, and what you want to focus on and then put together a workout for you.  All you do it hit “start” and it walks you through with a timer for rest periods!  Check out  Cait’s post for a more thorough explanation.

 

Workout Recap (2/20 – 2/26)

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Carrot-Mango-Ginger Smoothie

  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/4 large mango
  • 1-in piece of fresh ginger
  • 1/2 C unsweetened coconut milk (or other liquid)
  • 1 tsp maca (optional)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 capful vanilla extract
  • 6-7 drops liquid stevia
  • Ice, to taste (I used a LOT)

 

Place everything in blender and mix to combine.

Top as desired (I sprinkled some flax and cinnamon), and enjoy!

***

Sunday I was honored to make the FoodBuzz Top 9 for my Vegan Goat Cheese Stuffed Roasted Tomatoes.  Thank you for the Buzz, and welcome new friends! :)

Also, it’s time for the February edition of Spicie Foodie’s Your Best Recipe.  Click the badge for more info on joining, and be sure to check back when recipes are posted on March 1st!

Do you have a Vitamix?  Please share recipes! :)

Do you have any tips for eating well?

 

Roasted Eggplant Bruschetta

This has been the LONGEST week.

 

Maybe because I know I’m 3 days from NUT BUTTER?!  That’s really been the biggest hole in my life.  That and oatmeal, but going without oats has been a little easier since Atlanta has turned into San Diego with 65-70 degree temps.

 

Spiced Almond Butter

 

As I think about what foods will and will not enter back into my life after Sunday, I am thinking more and more about what it means to eat clean on a daily basis.  Should I cut out meat completely?  Dairy products?  Eggs?

After the first Standard Process Cleanse I did in November of 2010, I drastically reduced my intake of red meat and sugar.  It has made a HUGE difference in the way that I feel.  Red meat and I don’t process well together.  Does that mean I won’t help myself to a bite of the tasty burger you ordered?  Nooooo… I quite like Sarah‘s concept of being “vegan with benefits.” Maybe we can start a movement, Miss. Smart?

 

Sugar will remain an item I try to avoid.  There are so many great alternatives out there, you don’t really need it!

Candy @ Healthy in Candyland just wrote a great post on sugar and my favorite alternative – Xylitol.  Apparently it could have anti-aging properties!

 

 

Check out my Chewy Granola Cookies for a great start to using xylitol in baking!

 

How will I eat on post-cleanse on Monday?  I don’t yet know what the right answer is for me.  I do know that I will enter into the non-cleanse world by reintroducing one “new” food at a time, and pay close attention to what my body says about it.

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Cleanse or no cleanse, I WILL be making many of this week’s French vegan dishes again!

 

I ran into my friend and his partner in Whole Foods last night, and they shared with me that my Vegan Goat Cheese Stuffed Oven-Roasted Tomatoes was on their menu!  Keith (the “chef”) posted this pic later:

 

 

The two meat-eaters served vegan stuffed tomatoes with homemade organic Shepherd’s Pie with grass-fed Georgia beef and sweet potatoes, paired with a Vintage 2008 South Australian Shiraz.

Keith’s quote: “Props on the Vegan Goat Cheese girl! To die for!!!”

 

 

The next party dish I want to share is this Eggplant Bruschetta – installment #3 in the Vegan French Book Club Dinner Series (don’t you love how I made it so official-sounding?).

It was created a traditional bruschetta in mind, only the eggplant replaces the baguette to create a light, flavorful finger food.

 

 

Healthy and full of flavor, it was also the easiest dish.

Remember this Provençal Tomato Spread?  I saved some and blended it with extra basil and olive oil to make a creamy sun-dried tomato-olive topping that was reminiscent of SDT pesto.  It took less than 5 minutes.  Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.

Topped with a little basil for color!

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Roasted Eggplant Bruschetta

  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium eggplants, cut in 1/2 inch slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Provençal Tomato Spread
  • 1/2 C fresh basil

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with foil.  Spray liberally with olive oil.  Place eggplant rounds in a single layer on sheet. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast for 15 to 20 mins. Flip each piece, checking to be sure the undersides have browned and become and a bit puffy.  If they’re not, cook a bit longer.

Once flipped, sprinkle them with more pepper and some garlic powder.  Place pan back in the oven for ~15 mins, until the undersides brown to match the tops.

Meanwhile, blend 1/2 C of the Provençal Tomato Spread with basil.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add more olive oil (I added 2 tsp), if desired.

When the eggplant is cooked, arrange on a platter.  Top each disk with 1-2 tsp of the purred provencal spread and a small bail leaf.  Eat immediately.

Serves 8-10 as appetizers.

 

Note: Some people swear you don’t have to do this, but I always lay my sliced eggplant out, sprinkle generously with salt, and allow to sit for 10-15 mins.  This helps remove some of the bitterness and excess moisture.  If you do this, wipe off the excess moisture with a paper towel and proceed to bake as instructed.

***

3 days to go on the Standard Process Cleanse – I can’t believe it’s almost over!  Like I said above, the idea is to add back one food at a time to see what you may be sensitive to…. I’m thinking nuts are coming back first!  That’s what she said.

What would you add back first post-cleanse?

Have you ever considered a vegan or vegetarian diet?  What pushed you to do it or held you back?

 

Vegan Goat Cheese Stuffed Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Playing favorites isn’t fair.

No one ever said life was fair.

Everything I made for my vegan French book club dinner was good (I was kind of shocked)…. but we all have favorites, even if you won’t admit it.

 

This is mine.

 

These vegan Goat Cheese Stuffed Oven-Roasted Tomatoes could probably get by on their looks alone.  That isn’t why they were my favorite.  I’m not that shallow.

They were my favorite because of the cheese.

 

Inspired by this recipe from Alain Coumont, founder of Le Pain Quotidien cafés in France, I decided to take his concept and make it vegan.  (Coincidentally, Le Pain Quotidien offers many vegan dishes.)

Everyone has some sort of vegan “cheese” they use in recipes.  Often it’s cashew-based.  Sometimes with nooch or any array of vegan products.  It never really tastes like cheese.

 

With the exception of this tofu-based cheese.  Tofu makes a GREAT sub for creamy cheeses like ricotta and goat cheese.  (It made a helluva ricotta in this Eggplant Rollitini.)

This particular vegan version of tofu-cheese is a goat cheese.  I swear to you – you would NEVER miss the real thing.  The book club didn’t balk at all!

Goat cheese has a tanginess that was captured well with the lemon juice in this tofu creation.  The miso lends a salty-sweetness to it, which helps bring out the cheesy side of the nutritional yeast.

 

Fantastic taste aside, the other plus to this recipe is that it’s easy… yet it looks impressive.  There is a decent list of ingredients for the cheese, but you simply toss it all in the food processor.  I love a one-bowl recipe!

Just be careful not to cut through the tomatoes when you scoop out the middles!

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Vegan Goat Cheese Stuffed Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

  • 12 small-ish tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz. pkg firm tofu, pressed
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 T yellow miso
  • 1/4 C nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 C freshly-squeezed lemon juice (~1.5 lemons)
  • 1/4 C yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano powder
  • 3-4 T finely chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Pre-heat the oven to 425.

Slice off the top 1/2 inch of each tomato and reserve the tops. Carefully scoop out the tomato cores and seeds. If necessary, cut a very thin sliver off of the bottom of each tomato to help them stand up straight. Arrange the tomatoes in a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

Crumble pressed tofu into the bowl of a food processor.  Add remaining ingredients for “cheese,” except the basil. Process until smooth.  Add basil and pulse briefly to combine.

Spoon the “cheese” mixture into the tomatoes, filling them just to the brim. Cover with the tomato tops and drizzle lightly with additional olive oil.

Bake the tomatoes for 30-35 minutes, until beginning to brown in spots and the cheese is hot. Let stand for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm. (They’re also good leftover!)

Notes:

  • I do not have a tofu press.  Instead I drained the tofu, cut it in half horizontally, and wrapped it in paper towels.  Then I stacked a load of cookbooks on top and let it press for 10-15 mins.
  • The cheese mixture can be made up to 2 days in advance.  In fact, they are better on day 2 once the flavors fully marry.  If you do this, do not add basil until just before you bake.

***

Tomorrow is Eggplant Bruschetta!  Next week is the Salade Niçoise with Tempeh “Tuna”… then you’ll have a fully vegan-ized French-themed party spread! :)

What’s your favorite “veggi-tized” recipe?  Or is there one you’d like to see made vegan/vegetarian?

What other dishes would you use a vegan goat cheese for?  I’m making another batch this weekend!

 

Provençal Tomato Spread + WIAW

Is it just me…

 

or are more people are going plant-based?

I started reading restaurant menus (because that’s what I do for fun) to see who has veg-friendly offerings and it has really impressed me that most restaurants offer some sort of vegetarian/vegan dish that is more than pasta drowning in oily stir-fried vegetables.

It warms my plant-based, cleansing heart.

 

Jenn has also warmed my heart by hosting this month’s What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) in the theme of  vegetable.

 

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Breakfast:

I post a lot of smoothies… most of them are really good despite their color.  In case you ever questioned my honesty/sanity/taste-buds, I must admit to you that this smoothie was not great.

 

 

Blueberries do not go with avocado.  The.  End.

 

On happier note, I did get confirmation that my Valentine’s Roasted Beet and Orange Smoothie was indeed good.  Check out this pic from reader Ashley, who tweeted: “The verdict is in… yummy!”

 

 

Thanks to Ashley for the feedback a lovely pic!

 

 

Lunch:

Monday night’s french-themed book club left me with some leftovers (thank god because I woke up LATE).

 

 

See that pretty stuffed tomato?  I promise to share the recipe with you tomorrow.  It was really friggin’ good… and deserving of it’s very own post. :)

I ate that atop a leftover eggplant-seitan stir-fry and some lentils.

 

 

Snacks:

Kombucha!  Whole Foods was out of my favorite Buchi Fire, but they were having a sale on GT’s.  I was sad to see this bottom of this bottle.

 

 

Snack time was a bag full of veggies with a simple, herb-y Provençal dip left over from the par-tay.  I loved the colors in this dish, and the briny saltiness from the capers and sun-dried tomatoes were perfect paired with crisp veggies for dipping.  (Recipe at the bottom of this post)

 

 

 

 

How cute is the reusable baggie?  My mom got it for me… it’s from Snack Taxi, but I think she got it at The Container Store.  I’m going green left and right!

 

Dinner:

I felt like I needed more raw food in my life after a heavier lunch, so dinner was a colorful salad.  A massive, colorful salad.  This was not served on a tiny salad plate:

 

In my ensalada:

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli and radish sprouts
  • Shredded brussels (raw)
  • Grapefruit
  • Beets
  • French green beans
  • Cucumber
  • Red onion
  • Tempeh croutons 
  • Lemon-thyme vinaigrette
  • Sprinkle of cardamom, salt, and pepper

 

If you haven’t eaten beets with grapefruit before, you should do so immediately.  I’m not talking those sour grapefruits – get the vibrant pink sweet ‘fruits that are in season right now.  #Nom 

 

 

Dessert:

This Sweet Potato Pie Chia Pudding I posted earlier this month made an appearance.  I added a pinch of cardamom to the mix last night, which was fabulous.  However…

I didn’t take a picture because I was too pissed at myself for doing this:

 

 

Another one bites the dust…

At least I’d just had a relaxing Hour of Happiness after work so the string of words that came outta my mouth weren’t as bad as they could have been. ;)

 

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Diffusion de Tomate Provençal (Provençal Tomato Spread)

Modified from this recipe by Kathleen Flynn

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated and chopped
  • 15 Nicoise olives (or Kalamata), chopped
  • 2 tsp capers, chopped
  • 2 T rosemary
  • 1/2 -1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 C fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)

 

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a small pan.  Add bell pepper and onions, and sauté until soft.  Add garlic and cook a minute more until fragrant.  Add chopped tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and vinegar and cook over low heat for another 7-8 mins.  Remove from heat.

When cool, add basil.  Add pepper to taste.

Note: This can be made up to 2 days in advance.  If making in advance, do not add basil until just before serving.  Taste again and adjust spices as they settle.

This is delicious with crackers, veggie sticks, or even atop grilled tofu or chicken.

Serves 8-10 as an appetizer/dip.

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The floor is still sticky from that spill.  I swear I’ll clean it up before the next dinner at my house tonight.

Can anyone relate.. any recent mishaps?

Do you find that the world is becoming more vegetarian and/or vegan-friendly?