Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars & Update

I'm loving finding new foods to eat with my new way of eating. Week before last I received my Superfood Cuisine book by Julie Morris.

One of the recipes in there is the Lemon-Coconut Breakfast Bars recipe. Holy Toledo! Those are sooooo delish! I'm eating one warm out of the oven right now! You could just die at the yumminess!!!!

You can find the recipe here but I'll also post it below because you'll want to get to making them ASAP and you don't want to have to click on a link just to do that!

Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars

Make a double batch of these bars and refrigerate to have on hand all week.

1 1/2 Tbsp chia seeds

2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 cup oat flour

1/2 tsp baking powder (oops, I used baking soda)

pinch sea salt
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp shredded dried coconut, divided
2 Tbsp lemon zest 
2 Tbsp applesauce
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup packed medjool dates, pitted

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 8x8” baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and chia seeds. Set aside for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix together the oat flour, baking powder, salt, and ¾ cup coconut flakes. Sprinkle in the lemon zest and mix again until distributed.

In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, apple sauce, and agave nectar. Mix in the soaked chia seeds. Chop the pitted medjool dates finely, and mix in with the other wet ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir until blended. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan, and use a spatula to flatten out the surface. Sprinkle remaining 2 Tbsp coconut on top, patting them down lightly into the mixture.

Bake for 25-28 minutes, until edges begin to turn golden brown. Cut while warm into squares. Makes 16 2”x2” squares.

I actually wrote this post last week but didn't finish it and so I'm posting it now. Just as a warning, if you make the above recipe beware! They are VERY good! I think I basically ate them all in about 2 days! HA! Impressive!

This brings me to another point that I've recently learned on my journey into a plant-based diet. Eating high sugar foods at night isn't good really. I was feeling so much better the first 2-3 weeks but then last week my body started feeling not as good to me but I realized two things. First, I was eating way more sweets (healthy sweets but sweets nonetheless) than I had the previous weeks. And second, I wasn't eating as many vegetables as in the previous weeks. So this week I'm bringing the veggies back. The biggest reason for that is that I really notice a difference in my thirst if I do or don't eat veggies. The more veggies I eat the more I get my water from my veggies and the less thirsty I am. Fascinating!

I'm really enjoying my new way of eating. Yes, it's been challenging but I'm just finding my way and learning some great recipes and eating some really tasty food. These are the vegan recipes that I have made in the past 4-5 weeks:

Superfood Cuisine and other Julie Morris Recipes:
No-Bake Brownies (online)
Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars (online)
Mini-Chocolate Cupcakes (online)
Black Bean Hemp Patties (Superfood Cuisine)
Roasted Pumpkin Soup (Superfood Cuisine)
Cauliflower Risotto (Superfood Cuisine)
Smoothies - Clean Start and Protein Packed (The Smoothment at
Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier:
Quinoa Falafels
Beet and Fennel with Belgian Endive salad
Hemp and Sunflower Seed Milk
Lentil Soup with Wilted Spinach
Blueberry Chia Pudding
Summer Squash Fettucini with Lemon Pepper Cream
Live Avocado Goddess Sauce
Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips
Thrive by Brendan Brazier:
Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Quinoa Pizza
Baked Apple Cinnamon Cereal

Hemp Milk
Chocolate Almond Smoothie (I think I've had this about 10 times actually)
Lemon-Lime Recovery Drink
Direct Fuel Bites
Garlic Oregano Yam Oven tasty!
Banana Ginger Pear Cereal
Ginger Pear Smoothie
Blueberry Rooibos Antioxidant Smoothie
Mango Coconut Energy Bars - boo! These sounded so great but turned out so NOT great!
Endurance Crackers from
Super Simple Kale Salad

Well, when I list them out like that I realize I've really been making a lot of things. No WONDER my kitchen is ALWAYS a mess! I think that about covers it for recipes but I have thrown a lot of things together. I basically keep kale and spinach on hand at all times. I can't wait for summer to come so I can make my Crunch  A Munch Salad. Oh's so delicious and so summery!

I have many more items on my list that I want to make including but not limited to:
Energy Bars - there are a few that I want to make like Walnut Cranberry and also Chocolate Blueberry
Smoothies - Green and this Pineapple Kale one I found the other day

I have bought a lot of hemp seeds, nuts and veggies in the past month or so. I've also bought a few books and many "different" superfood type of foods like maca, mesquite powder, cacao butter, lucuma powder, chia, and amaranth. I've also bought a lot of other things that I want to have on hand like shredded and flaked coconut, palm sugar, agave, and dates, dates and more dates!!

I've learned a lot, shopped a lot and cooked a lot. I'm enjoying the process and that's huge for me! Very important to love what you're doing and eat in a way that works for you. For me, this is the way that works for now. I feel better than I have in a long time and while I may not be seeing big changes I'm seeing changes and feeling better. I've definitely noticed that my allergies seem much less than usual and I don't wake up stuffed up like I do often when I was eating meat products and dairy. It may or may not be coincidence. Time will tell.

One thing I have learned for sure is that I don't like flax seed or flaxseed meal. I can handle it in small doses but usually if the recipe calls for flax seed I'll substitute chia. I found somewhere on line that you can do that but use 1/2 to 1/3 the amount called for in the recipe (i.e. 2 tablespoons flax seed = 1 tablespoon chia). That's been a good swap for me. And because chia has no flavor I can handle that a lot more than the flax. In fact I want to make the Mango Coconut Energy Bars again but make them with chia instead of flax. I am almost positive that I will like them that way. The flax is incredibly overwhelming in that recipe and it's all I could taste! Yuck! 

I will try to get on here more often to share more recipes with all of you. I think the thing I like most about this kind of cooking is that a lot of it seems to involve smashing things up in bowls with your hands and I LOVE that. Talk about getting dirty in the kitchen! It's GREAT!

I'll leave you with this beautiful photo from my day trip to Santa Barbara last weekend. It was so pretty and relaxing. I'm so fortunate to live close to the ocean. It's sooooo therapeutic for me! Have a great weekend!

Santa Barbara Coastline

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dental Health Update, Exciting News, and New House Rule!

So, since I work in a dental office I get to have my teeth cleaned every 3 months so it's fantastic. I got my teeth cleaned yesterday and guess what? My hygienist said that she's never seen my gums so healthy. Isn't that fantastic? She thinks it might be my changing to a plant-based diet but we're not certain. We'll see in another 3 months. I've basically been doing a plant-based diet for about 5 weeks. It will be interesting to see what another 3 months does to the health of my mouth.

Now on to exciting news...are you ready? Today I finally had my interview for massage school! Yes, I'm going to massage school and it starts in the middle of March! I can't wait. It's going to be so much fun. The school, teachers, and students are rather "granola" and "flower child" like but in some ways so am I. It's a smaller massage school and I like that. And I LOVE that half of my class time will be me getting massaged! Win win if you ask me!

And finally some new house rules! I decided that I've become way too sedentary and I need to put a stop to that. So I made a new "house rule" to get myself going. The rule is that if I'm doing something sedentary (watching TV / computer time / reading) I need to get up every 15-20 minutes and do something...anything, just move. Tonight I did just that. I was watching some TV and so I got up at the commercials and did some bodyweight squats, a little dancing, some marching in place, and some planks. I like this new house rule. It's been great. I actually went to the gym the other night to watch my trash TV and walk on the treadmill. It was perfect. I walked at a moderate pace for 45 minutes. I'm not trying to get a "cardio" workout per se, just moving instead of sitting still. I'm trying to extend this new habit at work as well since I sit for a good 8 hours a day.

So that's my brief summary of changes and such happening in my life. Any of you starting something new? Any new challenges you're facing?

Tropical Sunshine Smoothie

Yummy! I made this yesterday and had it again this morning. Delish! I want to go to an ISLAND! And I want cabana boy to bring me this smoothie! Ha!

1 cup coconut water
1 t matcha green tea powder

1 frozen banana
1-2 T hemp protein powder
2-3 frozen peach slices
1/2 - 3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
1/2 - 3/4 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 - 1 cup water
Ice (optional) - use if your fruit isn't frozen

It wasn't very pretty to look at, kind of a puce green color but hey, it was tasty! If you don't have coconut water ad green tea powder, you could always substitute green tea or really any liquid you want. The choice is yours! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Today was a PHENOMENAL DAY!!!

What can I say about today? Well, first of all the weather was gorgeous again! I just feel so fortunate to be living here where the weather rocks almost all the time! So any day that I don't get out when it's gorgeous I feel guilty because I know there are plenty of people that don't have weather like this in February. Today I didn't let that happen.

I had the day off so I slept in...aaahhhh...I love to sleep in. Then I made myself a shake with the idea that I would be working out soon and I would need to have some fuel for that. As it turned out I really didn't have time to workout and still make it to my massage appointment on time. So the workout went by the wayside and I roasted my beets and fennel instead. Nice compromise. That way later in the day I could make my salad I've been dying to try for a long time. So I roasted and then went to get a massage. And guess what? My massage therapist had woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Perfect! Why perfect, you ask? Because then she gives a good deep tissue massage and really works those knots out. It was a really great massage!

Then it was off to the farmers market and to Whole Paycheck Foods.  I bought some Kuri Squash, Honey Dates, Medjool Dates and dinosaur kale at the farmers market. Then at Whole Foods I bought a bunch of stuff including lots of walnuts and cashews, garbanzo bean flour, sesame seeds, and hemp protein.

On the way home I was thinking that it was such an AMAZING day that it was a shame that I didn't have my new skates yet because it would be a perfect day for some skating. They were scheduled to be delivered today but to the office and it was closed today. So then I tracked my package and it said that it was "out for delivery" which meant they hadn't delivered it to the office yet. Then maybe 10 minutes after I had been home there was a knock on my door and guess what was there? MY SKATES!!!!!! I was soooooooooooooooooooooo excited! Yep! THAT excited! I could barely get dressed fast enough to go skating. I had my music and my new skates and beautiful sunshine...all lined up for a great skate! It was FANTASTIC!!!!

Then I came home and had some food and finished making my salad. Here it is.
Roasted Beet and Fennel Salad with Belgian Endive
with Garlic-Green Peppercorn Dressing
The recipe is again from Brendan Brazier's book Thrive Foods. It was mighty tasty and that dressing was mighty tasty. It's made with cashew cream made from soaking cashews overnight and then blending them with water. So cool!

I also made a cereal from his other book I have. But unfortunately I burned it. Oh well. I will make it again and not burn it. Live and learn...or should I say cook and burn? Haha! That was funny! I just thought of that right now when I typed it! I crack myself up sometimes!

I am feeling really good. My energy has been so much better each and every day. It's pretty cool to see how your body changes with different nutrition. I do wonder how much is psychosomatic but whether it is or it isn't I feel amazing and that's something I haven't felt for a long time! Wahoo! The one thing that seems to be the biggest difference to me is never having that bloated and weighed down feeling like I used to when I was eating animal protein. That for me is a huge win! Even my BF said that the other night after the pizza. He said he was full and completely satiated but didn't feel bloated and lethargic. That's pretty cool, I think.

So from one energetic gal to all of you, I hope your day was SUPERB! And if today wasn't then my wish for all of you is that tomorrow will be! Good night!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Welcome to my new blog!!

Isn't it funny? One of my goals for 2012 was to rename and/or start a new blog, do something fresh for my virtual life! I had no idea at the time what it was going to be. But here I am about three and a half weeks after watching Food Inc. and my nutritional life has been transformed. So crazy. I would NEVER have thought that this would happen. I was one that TRULY believed I could NOT live without meat products in my life pretty much daily. And here I am having not eaten any meat at all in about 2 1/2 weeks. Is that crazy or what? So my blog direction became clear.

As I stated, this journey began a few weeks ago when I became a vegetarian overnight...literally! Since then I've been swimming in a sea of confusion and reading a lot. I've been experimenting in the kitchen. Some things have been tasty and others, not so much. But here I am transforming my life and, I believe, my health. And who doesn't want that? I've been feeling lethargic and maybe a little low on energy and motivation for a while now. It's just been hard to be normal after training to compete in a figure competition. I never tested myself but I'm pretty sure that I damaged my metabolism by doing that extreme diet and training. I'm happy that I've found out about plant-based nutrition. There is an outstanding amount of research about the benefits of a plant-based diet versus an animal based diet. One causes a lot of inflammation and the other decreases inflammation. You really can't deny science. I'm not preaching or anything here. I'm just stating where I'm coming from and what I believe in for now. I may go back to animal protein at some point in time but for me right now I can't do it. So I've started a new journey...the journey to a plant-based diet. I'm sure the road will be steep and winding but I will eventually make it to the top.

Last week on Friday I think things really started to click and my body has started to respond well to my new way of eating. I left work Friday night heading to the gym but not feeling it at all. Really I didn't want to go. But I went...forced myself really! And then something short of a miracle happened! I had the best workout I have had in I don't even know how long! It was fantastic! Truly! I felt strong and I got a great workout in. And for the first time since I've changed my nutrition I actually felt strong and energetic for my entire workout! YES! It felt great.

I can tell my energy in general is picking up and actually I can physically see a change which I am happy about. So I think this way of eating is resonating well with me. Yes, it's challenging at times, mostly because it's so new to me. But as I observe it all I'm not stressed out about eating and that, for me, is HUGE! It's been fun finding new foods and browsing online and in Whole Foods for new and exciting foods and recipes.

Last week I made more Raw Brownies. Those things are just crazy yummy. I just eat one or two after lunch each day because I like them and they make me happy. And I get about 8 per batch so that's a great treat for me. I don't need to eat them every day, just most days! ;-) Then this weekend I made this delicious, super quick and super healthy salad! Are ya ready for the recipe?

Super Simple Kale Salad

1 bunch kale
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt to taste

Wash kale and spin dry or just shake off as much water as you can. Remove from hard stems and cut or just tear by hand into bite-size pieces and place in large bowl. Scoop avocado out of skin. Add lemon juice and sea salt. Mix by hand smashing avocado up until all is incorporated. 

That's it! Yes, it really is THAT simple! You can add more veggies if you would like. But it doesn't need it. This is best eaten the same day. You will probably need to add more lemon juice and salt if you refrigerate and eat again.

Pizza and Super Simple Kale Salad
I also made this delicious "pizza" out of Brendan Brazier's book. Sorry the picture isn't great. I clicked this after eating one piece and almost all of my salad but you get the idea. I wasn't sure about eating a vegan pizza but it was truly quite tasty. I actually would like to take the pizza crust recipe and just make it into crackers. The crust turned out kind of soggy except for the parts that didn't have sauce on them. I think next time I may have to cook the crust first and then add the toppings and cook some more, just to ensure the crunchiness. Even my BF liked it and thought it was quite tasty. I ate the leftovers last night and then again today for lunch. Yummy!

My skates should arrive on Thursday! I'm going to HAVE to take them out for a spin this weekend. It's supposed to be sunny. Not particularly warm but sunny and that's good enough for me! Speaking of sunny would you check out this picture I took while walking up the stairs in Santa Monica? It was on Sunday and it was an AMAZING day!

Gorgeous, no?
Take a deep breath and breathe in the beauty of the beach. I love the ocean. It's so therapeutic! I love it!

That about wraps it up for me. Welcome to my new blog. I hope you'll follow me along on my journey. It's bound to be interesting or at the least slightly amusing. WELCOME!