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Hi.

I’m Leah.

I love food.

I really love Thai and Chinese food. For realsie.

So, a healthy (gasp!) and vegan (double gasp!) Asian inspired meal is right up my alley.

Love or hate the girl, Rachael Ray can write a mean recipe for the home cook. And this one comes from her.

Start by preheating your oven to 400.

Please don’t be scared because this recipe begins with soft tofu. I feel for tofu. It has a pretty bad reputation amongst those of us that enjoy eating meat. And I would like to acknowledge that it can taste awfully nasty. However, when prepared correctly and married with yummy ingredients, it is pretty darn good.

If you are new to tofu, you can generally find it in the health foods area (sometimes in the produce area) in the refrigerated section. For this recipe I chose soft tofu. It comes packed in water, so your first step is to drain off the water.

Put a nonstick pan over medium heat, and add a little olive oil. Pick up your brick of tofu and crumble it directly into the pan. It should look a bit like scrambled egg whites.

If you are adamantly opposed to tofu and meat is a necessity, you could use ground chicken or turkey or pork.

But be adventurous. I really think you might like the tofu.

You real only need to heat the tofu through.

Crank up your heat to stirfry mode AKA high heat. Then add in 2 choppity chopped up ribs of celery and a good amount of chopped shitake mushrooms. They sell the shitakes in 4 oz pre-chopped packages and my store, so I just picked up one of those.

Stir fry for one minute.

During that one minute, feverishly chop up 1/2 of a head of napa cabbage (napa cabbage is oblong instead of round- it is mostly white with some lighter green, and most grocery stores carry it).

Drop that into your pan.

Add a handful of bean sprouts- I like the fresh from the produce section. They are found near the alfalfa sprouts usually. If you prefer canned, go for it. They are in the international foods aisle.

Dump in a small can of drained chopped water chestnuts (also in international foods).

Add in 2 finely chopped garlic cloves.

And grate in 1 inch of fresh ginger root. If you don’t have the fresh ginger, you can use 1/2 t. of powdered ginger.

Cook for about 2 more minutes to make sure everything is heated through.

Then, stir in 2 T of Tamari. Tamari is a smoother, better tasting, slightly richer version of soy sauce. If you don’t have Tamari, feel free to use regular old soy sauce.

Stir that all together and turn off the heat. You have completed making the filling for your giant egg rolls.

Allow the filling to cool a bit before making your egg rolls. This way you don’t burn your precious fingers.

I’m always looking out for you.

Now, it is time to be an artiste.

Lay out one sheet of phyllo dough- found in the dessert section in the freezer aisles at your grocery store.

Side Note: If you haven’t used phyllo dough before, you’ll need to allow it to thaw out prior to trying to work with it. The package comes with several very thin sheets of phyllo. Have a clean, dry kitchen towel handy to cover the sheets you aren’t currently working with. If you don’t, the phyllo gets dry and crumbly and impossible, and you will hate it forever and ever, Amen.

Paint some olive oil on to the sheet, and then lay a second sheet on top.

You could also use butter or a butter substitute.

Dab with a little more of your oil and then fold the phyllo in half.

Spoon about a cup of your filling into your phyllo.

Tuck in the right and left sides of the phyllo, and then fold up the bottom and roll your dough into an egg roll shape.

Please don’t be put off by the bland looking color of this filling. I assure you, this is anything but bland.

Once you’ve got them all rolled up, plop them on a pan.

Give them another quick dab of oil.

May I suggest using some parchment paper? These buddies have the potential to get super sticky on the bottom.

And cleaning sticky pans is the worst.

Actually, having your kid poop in the bathtub is the worst.

Nope, I take that back- having your kid poop in the bathtub, and in your moment of panic using your hands to scoop up the poop- is the worst.

But I digress.

Bake at 400 on a center rack for 15 minutes.

They come out looking beautifully golden brown.

Serve them up with some delicious Asian Slaw.

I used a sweet chili sauce as a dipping sauce for the eggroll. If you like spicy, you could use those little spicy mustard packs that you get if you ever order Chinese takeout.

These buddies are so good, and super filling- and baked NOT fried. Yum.

I’ll leave you with this kid. He also approves of these eggrolls. He certainly scarfed his down.

And then he pooped in the tub.

Good thing he’s cute.

XO,

Leah

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I think I have posted this recipe before, but I’m too lazy to look for it.

I’m sure you won’t mind if I share it again, will you?

Well, if you do mind… then just stop reading now, and go about your merry way.

Lentils.

They are mysterious. They are filling. They are sexy. They are delicious. 3 out of those 4 statements are true.

Lentils have high levels of folate and magnesium- heart healthy stuff! Lentils also have lots and lots of fiber that help keep that blood sugar regular while lowering cholesterol. They are full of iron and B vitamins, and finally protein makes up 26% of the calories in lentils (3rd highest level of protein of any food!). So, in a nutshell (or a legume shell, in this case), lentils are good for you.

Know what else? Lentils are CHEAPY, CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP!

You’ll find lentils in the rice aisle at the grocery store- they come in all sorts of colors including brown, green, red, tan, etc. These poor buddies are usually on the lowly bottom shelf in a plastic bag. They are so pathetic looking- won’t you give them some love?

Finally, if I haven’t sold you yet lentils are super easy to make and they are similar to chicken in that they take on the flavors that you give them.

Get out a pot and pour in some lentils (1/4 c. is a serving size, and I usually make about 1 1/2 c. at a time). Cover those lentils with water, and boil them until they are al dente.

They will eventually turn to mush, just like pasta, so don’t overdo it on the cooking.

Oh, did I mention that the measly 1/4 c. dry serving gives you 10 g of protein.

Go ahead with your bad self, lentil.

Once they are cooked to the texture of your liking, drain the lentils (again, I like a little more chew to it than cooked pasta would have).

Add in 1-2 T. of barbecue sauce.

Um. Your done.

I told you it was easy.

I either add these to a salad or I eat them in a wrap.

In this wrap, I also include a little more BBQ sauce, some pickled jalapeños and some sliced grape tomatoes.

Lets take a moment now to acknowledge how awesome I am at taking pictures of red things.

Pretty awesome.

Further proof that I am a total amateur with a camera.

This boy loves him some lentils.

And even though he isn’t eating them in this picture, please believe me that he endorses this lovely legume!

I hope you are enjoying your veggie consumption.
If you aren’t enjoying it, then I hope at a bare minimum it is at least making you regular.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Have a good one!
XO,
Leah

Oatmeal.

Blah. Boring. Bland. Bleck.

Or is it?

Cue mysterious music.

The truth is that I would much rather have a giant bowl of Lucky Charms over oatmeal any day, but that just isn’t a smart move. I think I would be a diabetic by the time my next birthday rolled around if I did that, but those fake little hard marshmallows are delicious.

My friend Liz corrected my oatmeal course not too long ago… she told me about all of the different ways she would doctor up her oatmeal, and it became a fun little experiment to come up with new delicious concoctions.

I eat the heart healthy serving of oatmeal- 3/4 c. of dry oats. That is 1.5 servings of whole grain (so if you are counting, we’re up to 2.5 servings of whole grains for the day after the green smoothie). 3/4 c. of dry oats also gives you 9- count ’em- NINE g of protein. I usually include 1/4 c. of raw unsalted almonds in my oatmeal, and those are 5 g. of protein.

That means, with no animal product we are up to 29.5 grams of protein after breakfast(s) alone. That is about half of my daily required protein intake.

Let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that oatmeal doesn’t taste nearly as delicious as a heaping pile of bacon. Or waffles. Or tater tot casserole, and I want to be clear that I believe there is a time and a place for that level of breakfast deliciousness.

However, if we are talking healthy choices that provide nutritional benefit, oatmeal is a solid choice.

Up first- and appropriate for the start of the fall-ish season, is pumpkin pie oatmeal.

3/4 c. quick cooking oats (again, I go for organic here)

Add in 1 1/2 t. of pumpkin pie spice- or if you are like me and don’t have that stuff because you have never made a pumpkin pie in your life, add in 1 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. ground cloves, 1/4 t. nutmeg (or whatever you have on hand).

Cover that with water, and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

;
Then get out your pumpkin. I use pumpkin in from a can- NOT pumpkin pie filling. Canned pumpkin is one of the best values in the grocery store, in my humble opinion. Think of all the work you would have to do to procure just 1/4 cup of puréed pumpkin.

Canned pumpkin is usually found in the baking aisle at the store, not in the canned fruit/vegetable area. Riddle me that. I also add in a little (1/2 t) of vanilla and a squirt of agave nectar.

Mix it up and sprinkle on 1/4 c of raw, sliced almonds.

So good! I promise that you’ll love it- I think!!

If pumpkin isn’t your jam, how about a little Apple Raisin Cinnamon deliciousness?

In this version, I start with 3/4 c of oats. Add in 1/2 of a peeled apple chopped. Throw in 1/4 c of raisins or craisins or dried cherries, and top it off with a generous dash of cinnamon and 1/4 c of your almonds.

Cover that with water and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

I was feeling naughty so I topped this one off with a sprinkle of brown sugar.

At the beginning of the week, I put all of the dried ingredients for these oatmeal treats in Ziploc baggies so they are easy to grab as I run out the door or work.

On the mornings that I start my day with a green smoothie at about 7:30, I’m ready for my oatmeal around 10 or 10:30.

Hope you are all having a better start to your Saturday than I am. I’m in the waiting room at a doctor’s office. I just wrote this entire blog post on my phone (please or give any misspellings) while waiting my turn.

Fun!

Enjoy your oats.

Have a great weekend!

XO,
Leah

One, and only one thing could possibly bring me back to my dearly beloved and oh-so-neglected blog.

What would that one thing be?

Well, the election of course. Specifically, fuel prices and each of our candidates positions on what they are going to do to fix this situation.

Of course, I’m lying.

The fuel I’m here to talk about is the fuel that powers our bodies… food.

Ever since having Henry (14 months ago-eek!), I have felt like my full amount of energy is no where to be found. In the early months, it was easy to blame that sluggishness on lack of sleep, nursing, a little baby extra baby weight and reduced exercise.

However, for the past 9-10 months those explanations didn’t really work anymore. The boy was sleeping, I was at my pre-baby weight, and I was back into my normal workout routine. I lived with this general caffeine fueled tiredness until I just got fed up.

I hated yawning throughout the day.

I hated a PM run to Starbucks so that I could stay focused in my office.

I hated coming home from work and feeling like I didn’t want to make dinner or workout or do any number of the things I knew deep down I liked doing.

Right about this time, I happened upon the documentary Forks Over Knives. Like any documentary, this film has an agenda. And while I don’t agree 100% with every claim that they make, I wholeheartedly agree with the crux of the film.

Food is the fuel for our bodies, and how we choose to fuel our one and only body will affect everything- our current physical state, our current mental state, our future health and ultimately our future generations.

The film encourages people to take up a whole foods (the foods not the store) plant based diet.

No, I’m not becoming a vegan- nor am I suggesting that you should… unless you are into that sort of thing, then by all means go for it.

For me, I wanted to take the challenge for a week- eat a whole foods, plant based diet- – no meat, no fish, no dairy, no eggs, no animal products whatsoever. Pigs everywhere sang a hallelujah chorus. So did cows. And maybe a chicken or two.

I guess I just wanted to see.

Day 1 was the hardest worst day. I felt very serious, very physical cravings about 5 hours into the day for some cheese or a piece of bacon. I don’t eat that kind of food everyday, but man… knowing that I couldn’t have it, made me want it. Bad.

But I persevered. And by day 3, I had not only lost 3 lbs (yes, 3 lbs in 3 days and I wasn’t even trying!) but I had started to feel pretty darn good.

And by day 4, I was waking up before my alarm. 4 freaking days.

And my pre-baby energy was back- maybe even more so.

That is a pretty compelling argument for fueling your body with foods that are really really good for you.

So, I have a challenge. And no, it isn’t to totally cut out all animal product like I did. My challenge is for ONE DAY eat the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables AND eat the recommended servings of whole grains/legumes. If that seems way too easy, then I challenge you to go ONE WEEK with the same goal of getting all of those fruits and veggies and whole grain that your body wants badly.

Shoot for at least 4 servings of vegetable, 3 servings of fruit, and 6 servings of Whole Grains/Beans/Legumes, etc. I’m in the camp that, specifically with vegetables, there is no such thing as too many.

If you are feeling brave, ditch meat. If you are feeling really brave, ditch all animal product.

For a week- just to see.

About Protein: I think this is the number one concern with getting rid of meat. How will you get protein? Well, this was actually pretty easy. First, most Americans eat 50% more protein every day than their body needs. To figure out how many grams of protein you need, take your weight and divide it by 2.2. I was worried about protein intake and I was paying attention to it, and I had nearly hit my daily amount by lunchtime every day.  Beans, Legumes, Whole Grains all have a ton of protein. Surprisingly, even things like pineapple and spinach have small amounts of protein.

So, over the next few days, I’ll share with you some of the snacks and meals I’ve been chowing down on.

In full transparency, there are a lot of NASTY tasting vegan or veggie based meals. And my vow is to only share tried and true yummy treats.

So, without further ado… I give you my brand new obsession. The Green Smoothie.

Please don’t let the green color scare you. It is so so good. When I make one, Henry is stuck to me like glue begging for a taste. It seriously tastes like a milkshake. You must try it!

Simply blend up 1/2 c. of Soy Milk, Vanilla Soy Milk, Or Skim Milk with

1/2 c. of fruit- I love pineapple the most, but strawberries or bananas are good to

2 c. of raw spinach

2 T. of peanut butter or almond butter

2 T. of ground flax seed (you can get this at the regular grocery store in the natural foods section usually near the baking goods)- it looks like this in the package:

If you want a little sweetness, add in a squirt of Agave nectar. This should be located close to the ground Flax in the grocery store. It looks like this:

Flaxseed is a wonder food providing you with Omega 3s, fiber and lignans (antioxidants) amongst other things.

Agave nectar is a low glycemic sweetener- meaning it will make your food sweet without causing that pesky spike in your blood sugar.

So good- and the smoothie gives you 15.5 g of protein with next to no fat. I drink this before I leave for work around 7:30 am. It keeps me full until about 9:30/10 when I eat breakfast #2 (I’ll be sharing my normal second breakfast/mid-morning snack with you soon).

Also, with this one smoothie, you have downed 1 serving of fruit, 2 servings of vegetable, and 1 serving of whole grain (flax seed). Pretty good right?

Another easy snack or starter for the day is toast. Exciting, right?!? Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the recipe for toast.

But can I suggest these as toppings?

One slice with honey and peanut butter. Oh yum.

And even better, a second slice of toast with Coconut oil (it is supposed to be a solid, not a liquid so don’t be alarmed if it looks funny to you) and some mango butter. It tastes like vacation on bread. I bought both the coconut oil and mango butter at Trader Joes.

And for an easy vegan on-the-go snack is my favorite, Larabar:

Key Lime Pie is sinful, and so are the rest of the flavors. The Coconut Cream Pie is also incredible! Most of the bars are under 200 calories and they have 3-5 grams of protein, and they give you another serving of fruit. These guys are also available at most regular grocery stores. Kroger keeps them in their natural foods section, and they cost $1/bar.

I hope you’ll consider taking my whole foods challenge- not for me, but for you.

Your one and only precious body deserves it, right?

This guy thinks so:

Talk to you soon.

XO,

Leah

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