Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Plant Strong!

I am on day 14 of eating plant strong (day 13 if you count out day 1 dinner when the hubby insisted we get rid of meat and consumed previously discussed, disgusting turkey burgers). I feel so excited about these changes! It hasn't been too much of a challenge because I have eaten all of my meals at home and packed lunches for James to bring to work with dinner leftovers or wraps. Here is what a typical day looks like:

Breakfast: Green Smoothie: 8 oz unsweetened almond milk, 3-4 handfuls organic baby spinach, 2 branches dino kale, 1 banana, 1-2 cups frozen mixed berries, 1 T ground flaxseed, 1 T Plant Fusion protein powder in vanilla bean flavor

Lunch: Whole wheat wrap with garbanzo beans, spinach, diced tomato, a sprinkle of turmeric, and a drizzle of Health Starts Here balsamic dressing from Whole Foods or dinner leftovers such as the Engine2 NY Times veggie burgers which are incredible!

Snack: Depends on how hungry I am but it can be anything from a bowl of whole wheat cereal (like the Engine 2 Rip's Big Bowl) with fresh fruit or 1/4 cups cashews and a piece of fruit

Dinner: Rip's Sweet Potato Lasagna from the Engine2 diet on complicated night or on simple nights brown rice with steamed broccoli, Brussels sprouts and carrots

Dessert: Frozen grapes or frozen bananas blended into "ice cream"

Sometimes I eat more, sometimes I eat less, that is the beauty of this way of eating. I don't starve myself, I don't count my calories, I just listen to my body and if my body wants a huge bowl of cereal to tide me over until dinner,  I give it one! Simple as that. I feel amazing and clean at the end of the day, not bogged down with meat, dairy and processed foods. I am amazingly not craving the sugary sweet treats I had become so accustomed to having after dinner. It seems like I am finally tasting the natural sugars in fruits and I am enjoying them as if they were some sinful dessert....seriously I found myself oohing and ahhing over how my pink lady apple tasted the other day!

I also keep finding more and more doctors who advocate this way of eating as a way to prevent and reverse disease, lose weight and feel happy and energetic. I have loved reading this information and doing my research. It is endlessly fascinating to me and I am brainstorming ways that I can incorporate this zeal for nutrition into my career and schooling...no answers yet but who know!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Watch Out World, We're Going Vegan

The hubby and I have had an addiction to food-related documentaries on Netflix for quite some time now and they have always managed to inspire one or two lifestyle changes for us. Well, I have been toying with the idea of giving up on this low-carb "crap" to control my hypoglycemia and instead trying to heal my body from the inside out by eating a plant-strong diet. So, hubby, being the financially savvy one in the relationship, has enlisted one rule: we have to eat what we currently have in the fridge. So we had one night of turkey burgers with cheese and honestly, I felt sick. After making the decision, and stock piling educational materials on why meat and dairy products are so horrible for the human body, it was a dinner (an old favorite none-the-less) that was hard to swallow. I have been having so much fun at Whole Foods attending their "Health Starts Here" classes and learning about new recipes and their HSH products are awesome. It makes it so easy to shop for healthy food choices. ALSO, the food is amazing. I never realized how wonderful fruits, veggies and grains were (and I REALLY MISSED the grains & fruits eating low carb). My favorite new discovery, although I realize I am way behind the times here, is adding kale and spinach to my morning smoothies and shakes. It is absolutely delicious and I feel so great getting all those leafy greens in first thing in the morning! If you add vanilla bean plant fusion protein powder it is like a shake and if you don't it's like a smoothie. Either way, delicious! 3-5 oz fresh baby spinach, 1 branch kale leaves, 1 c frozen strawberries (or fresh, just add in a few ice cubes in that case), 1 c frozen blueberries, 1 banana 8 oz almond milk, 1-2 T ground flaxseed. Yum, yum yum!!! I suddenly can't wait for breakfast, there are SO many amazing vegan breakfasts out there. Tomorrow night I am attempting not only my first vegan lasagna, but my first EVER lasagna, so, fingers crossed. I am so excited to start this journey!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spaghetti Squash "Pasta" with Veggie & Ground Turkey Sauce. YUM!

So pasta has roughly 200+ calories a cup and doesn't really offer a whole lotta bang nutritionally speaking. Spaghetti squash on the other hand has just 42 calories a cup, 0 grams of fat and a mere 10 grams of carbs! What is not to LOVE?? If you answered nothing, ding, ding ding, you are correct! There is another reason to love it though, you don't have to watch it like that finicky pasta on the stove. Once this squash is in the oven it takes care of itself and you can focus on the sauce and sides (or work on your 25-page research paper!)
Just get a large spaghetti squash, cut off the top and bottom, and then stand it up and cut it on down the middle lengthwise. Remove the seeds and stringy stuff with a sharp spoon (kind of like carving a pumpkin). I know of two methods for cooking the squash. The first method is to take a large glass baking dish and fill it with two inches of water. Place the squash cut side down and cook for 40 minutes at 400. Another method is to use a deep baking sheet and put the squash on it cut side up with 1/4 cup of water on the bottom of the baking sheet. You can sprinkle garlic salt and pepper (or herbamare) on the squash and cook it 45-50 minutes. I prefer the baking sheet method because it makes the "spaghetti" a little firmer and the first method is pretty mushy in comparison. When it's done you just take a fork and scrape out the squash and it will be stringy like spaghetti. Top with your favorite sauce or ours. We like it with lean ground turkey, a can of diced tomatoes, diced onion, minced garlic, mushrooms, and zucchini. Cook the meat with onion in an extra large skillet first and then add all of the other ingredients (veggies first so they cook), add in can of diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, basil, and garlic salt. Stir in a jar of pasta sauce as the last step (I like the new "smart" sauce, it has 40% less calories than regular sauce and you can get it at grocery stores such as Ralph's. Cover and let simmer until sauce thickens (it can cook for a long time and the flavor just gets better, just keep it on a low heat). I serve ours with garlic bread made with low-carb flaxseed bread from sprouts. It has 45 cals a slice and 8 grams of carbs (almost half of which are fiber!). Just spread a little light butter and sprinkle with garlic salt and garlic powder. You can throw these on a baking sheet and place them in the oven with the spaghetti squash when it has about 8-10 minutes left; just watch it closely so it doesn't burn. ENJOY without guilt!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sex in a Protein Shake!

Do you ever have those days where nothing but loads and loads of chocolates will satisfy? I bring to you SEX IN A PROTEIN SHAKE. I make variations of this almost everyday but today I knew that my regular old shake wouldn't suffice. I needed sweeter, richer deliciousness but I didn't want to have to pay for it. What might I ask is the point of having cake if you can't eat it?!? This shake made me feel like I was being bad in a good way.
  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate almond milk (45 cals)
  • 1 scoop chocolate flavored Plant Fusion Protein Powder (low carb, low sugar, vegan, gluten free, no dairy, no soy, 21 g protein, 120 cals, and amazingly delicious!)
  • 1 T coconut flour (for extra nutrition, fiber and milkshake-like thickness, 31 cals)
  • 1 HEAPING spoonful of Walden Farms chocolate dip (no calories, no carbs, no fat, no anything!) *if you don't have this it is the same consistency as pudding so if you have sugar-free, fat-free chocolate pudding you can substitute without adding too many calories
  • 5 ice-cubes 
Add all ingredients and blend well for a PMS-curing, sweet-tooth-tackling and nutritious protein shake all for a mere 196 calories!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Allow Yourself To Be Where You Are

My hubby and I just got home from a church, shopping and a late dinner and took a long walk around our neighborhood. We had been talking throughout dinner, just about life in general, and the conversation turned to what I have learned in therapy role-plays and some of the concepts from my courses. We talked about the concept behind CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and how the basic principle is that we are in control of how much we let things affect us. Events in our lives can only affect us as much as we give them permission to. I told him how much I need to apply this concept to my own life; I give external things so much power over me. As we were walking, James (hubby) asked me what kind of changes I would like to see in my life and I told him that I want to be more present,  a "live in the moment kind of thing." He told me that he would like to be more loving towards other people and I asked him what that might look like to get him thinking about more tangible ways that he could apply this. Well, he used the same technique back on me and asked me what it would look like for me to be more present.

Here goes:
  • When I complain and rumble about my homework and papers and say I "have" to write this, I need to remember that I do not have to, but I have chosen to. I was so excited to start this program and I am so passionate about the subject matter. Why do I act as if someone is holding a gun to my head telling me to write this paper? Sure, there are consequences if I don't, but do I have to? No. I choose to. From now on when I am working on an assignment I want to be fully invested in it, to choose to do it and be content that I have made this choice, excited even.
  • Same thing goes for working out. Have you ever found yourself dreading a workout and counting down the minutes until it was over? WHY?? We aren't forced to work out, we choose to! We like how it makes us feel and look so let's allow ourselves to be there and to enjoy it, not to think about any of our other responsibilities or what we should be doing instead.
  • Free time. If I am going to spend the entire time I am out with a loved one thinking of the work that I am sacrificing by being there, then I should not go. If I am going to do something I need to DO it and not mourn the loss of what I am not doing instead. 
  • This can also be applied to healthy eating. Why do I want to eat this way, what is it doing for me? Nobody is forcing me to eat anything, there are major benefits to choosing a healthier lifestyle. 
All this to say, allow yourself to be where you are. Try to be present at all moments, to live life for today instead of for a tomorrow that will never come. How much could we increase our happiness and life satisfaction if we gave ourselves fully to our choices. This of course means that we should choose wisely, and if we are choosing wisely than there is no harm in being invested in those choices. This is my advice to myself and I will probably need to be reminded of it quite frequently.

I love walking and talking with my husband. What a nice night!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Who is Ash and what does she know about life?

My husband and I, first anniversary 10/2/11
Hello! I am a 25 years old and currently enrolled in a graduate counseling program with the goal of becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and overeating). I want to combine my passion for nutrition and fitness with my passion for helping people and I am so excited to see where this takes me. I have been through the journey of recovering from an eating disorder and I am now on a new journey of discovering how to eat my way into a healthier body, mind and soul. I love trying out recipes from some of my favorite bloggers (anything vegan, low carb or low cal). I am not a vegan, I eat chicken and dairy products, but I love to make my meals as healthy as I can. I recently found out that I have low blood glucose levels which can cause diabetes later in life, this means I have a new interest in a low carb diet that will help me regulate my blood sugar levels. Although I love me some bread, I am learning new ways of eating and it's fun figuring out how to navigate this new territory. The one thing that truly breaks my heart is having to cut down so much on fruit...especially the ever-so-delicious banana. *sigh* I love to exercise and try to switch it up as much as possible, this means in a given week I will do a variation of running, zumba, cardio kickboxing, barre, yoga etc. If I can't make it to a class or to the gym, I stay in my living room and kick it with Tony Horton for a bit (P90X). My husband and I started doing the videos a little less than a year ago and it has been so much fun. We recently acquired the Insanity videos as well...it's a love-hate. We have been married for a year this October (2011) and it has been such a wonderful, growing experience. He is truly an amazing man and I am so, so blessed to have him. So this is my life as I know it. I am trying to make it through graduate school, which is so amazing but very challenging, without sacrificing my other passions. It is quite the balancing act, but so worth it!