Breakfast, baby!

I’m stuck at home after a snowstorm, so I had to take advantage and post this because I’ve been talking about it forEVER. Breakfast is my favorite meal of all time, and I’ve been saving up tons of pictures for this post. Most of these I’ve made up, but if it is a recipe and I have online access to it, I will provide the link or at least tell you where it came from. Why should you eat breakfast? What should a healthy breakfast contain? Your burning questions answered and your taste buds tantalized!

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Vegan oatmeal-banana pancakes with figs and strawberries – recipe from Moosewood Collective Cookbook and is in an earlier blog post ūüôā

Now, the FAQs:

Does it really matter if you eat breakfast?

In a word, yes!!¬†Think about it — you’ve been sleeping for (hopefully at least eight) hours, and your body is ready to replenish. If you don’t eat breakfast, your metabolism still thinks you’re asleep and therefore conserves any energy it would release to your cells. Breakfast — BREAK the FAST — is meant to give you that kick start so you will start using energy, and therefore, burning calories. Studies have shown people who eat breakfast are leaner for this very reason. In addition, breakfast eaters have improved mood, increased¬†concentration, and get fewer headaches than those who skip it. If you’re stomach isn’t growling, you can focus on what you’re supposed to be doing at work/school/whatever it is you do all day ūüôā With¬†children, all of the above benefits are shown as well as better test performance. It’s a win-win, really!

What should I be eating?

Breakfast should contain 2-3 food groups, two of which should be carbohydrates and lean proteins or healthy fats. The third is usually fruit or a dairy/dairy equivalent. Carbohydrates provide that cell energy, protein/fat keeps you full, and fruit gets some vitamins and fiber into your system. Choose from the following foods to maximize the benefits. Avoid greasy meats, large quantities of cheese, pastries, donuts, biscuits, or anything else with a high fat or sugar content. This will just cause a blood sugar crash and subsequent sleepiness, which is definitely counterproductive!

I’m not hungry in the morning. Do I still need to eat?

Again, yes!¬†For some people, it takes a little training to get your stomach used to it. Start with something small, like a fruit & almond milk smoothie or a slice of toast with peanut butter. After about a week, you will start waking up hungry and ready to take on something bigger. Remember, you’re not trying to pack in a whole day’s worth of calories. 300-350 is plenty for more people, but if you exercise early in the day, go up to around 500 calories.

Build your Breakfast!

Carbs: Oatmeal, high-fiber cereal (5 g fiber or more), sprouted grain bread (like Ezekiel), whole-grain bagel or English muffin, stone-ground grits (NOT instant), whole-grain waffles or pancakes (such as Kashi), flatbread, wrap.

Proteins: Eggs (free range for better cholesterol content), egg whites, tofu, quinoa, organic cheese, low fat organic milk, soy milk, Greek yogurt, soy yogurt.

Healthy fats: Nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, avocado, almond milk, coconut milk, coconut shreds or oil

The combinations are almost endless. Get creative, and feel free to veer away from traditional breakfast foods. As long as it meets the above criteria, you can basically eat anything. I know people who don’t like breakfast food, and end up eating last night’s leftovers instead. Again, the rules are yours to make, but make sure to¬†get your 3 food groups!

All of the following meals¬†take less than 5 minutes to prepare, making them perfect for busy weekday mornings! All pictures are mine. I’m getting better at food photography, I think!

Gluten-free rolled oats with chunky almond butter, hempseeds, and pomegranate stewed apples

Gluten-free rolled oats with chunky almond butter, hempseeds, and pomegranate stewed apples

Avocado on Ezekiel bread with a clementine

Mashed avocado on Ezekiel bread with a clementine

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Blueberry soy yogurt with muesli, dried cherries, and pomegranate arils

Half a whole-grain bagel with peanut butter and sliced apple

Half a whole-grain bagel with peanut butter and sliced apple

A less traditional route: Mashed sweet potato with raisins, walnuts, and a little maple syrup.

A less traditional route: Mashed sweet potato with raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, and a little maple syrup.

Smoothie bowl: Beets, banana, strawberries, hemp, and chia seeds. Sprinkled with granola for some crunch.

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Kashi waffle sandwich with almond butter and banana

Peach-mango soy yogurt, chia/hemp seeds, dried persimmons and oat clusters

Peach-mango soy yogurt, chia/hemp seeds, dried persimmons and oat clusters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have a little more time or can prepare ahead, you can make some more fun stuff like pancakes and breakfast breads. I absolutely LOVE these two recipes from Ceara’s Kitchen:

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Flourless Pumpkin Pancakes with almond butter, pumpkin butter, and chocolate chips. On the side – a beet, berry, and chia smoothie. These pancakes are made in the blender and are SO easy and SO amazingly delicious. This picture actually made me a pseudo-celebrity on Instagram, and was reposted by Ceara herself!

 

 

Vegan Banana Oat Breakfast Cake. I baked this last night and we ate half of it immediately! Great by itself or with a smear of vegan cream cheese or almond butter.

Vegan Banana Oat Breakfast Cake. I baked this last night and we ate half of it immediately! Great by itself or with a smear of vegan cream cheese or almond butter.

Links to recipes:

http://www.cearaskitchen.com/healthy-vegan-banana-oat-breakfast-cake/

http://www.cearaskitchen.com/pumpkin-oat-blender-pancakes-flour-free-gluten-free-vegan/

With awesome foods like this, fast food is COMPLETELY unnecessary and obsolete. If you don’t even have five minutes to make something, keep low-sugar, high-protein bars like Clif, Larabar, Kind, or your other preferred brand in the pantry. Also have plenty of fresh fruit, so you can grab a bar and a banana on your way out the door. This way, your belly is happy and you can confidently drive right past that drive-thru!

That’s all, folks. Happy breakfast-ing!!

Original Recipe: Vegetarian Chili-Cornbread Casserole

I know, I know, I promised you a breakfast post. It’s coming, I swear!!

I posted this on Instagram last week and said I would provide the recipe, so first thing’s first! This casserole was a dish I made for my department’s holiday party. Of the 20+ people in the department, I am definitely the only vegetarian. I had to come up with something that I could eat, but that the others would too. Enter this brilliantly easy and delicious recipe. It is perfect for gatherings of any kind — football party, potluck, etc.

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Vegetarian Chili-Cornbread Casserole

Serves 8 (or 4 as a main dish)

Filling:

2 cups cooked beans (I used black and garbanzo, but feel free to use whatever you have around)

1 cup sweet corn

1 can organic diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup Quorn crumbles (may use other brands, this is just my preference as it lacks processed soy)

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Topping:

Non-GMO cornbread mix of your choice (I used Pamela’s cornbread and muffin mix, which is gluten free. I have a coworker with celiac.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a deep saucepan. Add onions and saute 2-3 minutes, then add mushrooms and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add Quorn, tomatoes, beans, corn, and seasonings and stir to combine. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cornbread according to package directions. Pour bean mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish. Top with cornbread mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Serve hot. Serve as is or with desired toppings, such as chopped avocado. Watch it disappear! (Tip: your husband, kids, anyone else will not even know it’s vegetarian. Score!) This also makes great leftovers (if there are any) for your vegan lunchbox the next day!

 

 

Roasted Vegetables = Maximum Versatility!

Roasting is probably my favorite way to prepare vegetables. It brings out a whole new level of flavor that you can’t achieve from any other cooking method. There are some vegetables, in fact, that I will ONLY eat roasted (brussels sprouts, for example). Yeah, it makes that much of a difference.¬†In addition to the deliciousness factor, roasting carries two additional benefits: 1) You can roast just about any veggie, so it’s a great way to “clean out the fridge,” and 2) there is so much you can do with the veggies afterward! Plus, it’s pretty easy once you get everything sliced and diced; all you have to do is stir them ever so often.

Last week, I harvested¬†piles of squash, ichiban eggplant (you know, the beautifully deep purple slender ones), and onions. They were sitting there looking so lonely, so I decided to slice them all up and pop them into the oven. I preheated the oven to 350. Meanwhile, I placed all the veggies in a gallon-size Ziploc baggie. At this point I added several whole cloves of garlic, because roasted garlic is AMAZING and takes on this exquisite sweetness. I then added 2 Tbsp of olive oil (this time I used my tuscan herb-infused one) and some sea salt and pepper. I then sealed the baggie and moved it around with my fingers to get the olive oil all over the veggies. After spreading them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, into the oven they went! It’s best to stir them about every 15-20 minutes. Depending on the vegetables, they may take up to an hour to roast, so plan accordingly! Everything was sliced very thin, so cooking time was only about 40 minutes here.¬†

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The finished product

I let them cool since I wasn’t using them right away, and put them in a large container for storage.¬†

 

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The possibilities here are pretty much endless. You can use them to make wraps, like this one I made for lunch the next day:

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Flatout flax wrap with spinach and cashew cheese added. An easy and delicious Saturday lunch!

 

Or, you can make a really easy quinoa bowl:

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Veggies were reheated in a pan with some chickpeas and nutritional yeast while the quinoa cooked.

Other ideas:

  • Serve with your favorite pasta
  • Make PIZZA!¬†
  • Add cubed tofu and cashews and serve over brown rice
  • Tasty curry
  • Omelets, if you eat eggs
  • Fajitas

There is probably lots more that I’m not thinking of. Now go get in the kitchen, roast up those suckers, and get creative!¬†

Original Recipe: Carrot-Squash Curry Soup

I know it’s not fall yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start making butternut squash EVERYTHING. This past week I’ve pulled up a ton of carrots and while I love eating them raw, I wanted to get a little more creative. Soooo I made this soup! Since I have a terrible tendency to throw things together without measuring, I’ve done my very best to estimate the quantities for you. You may want to adjust the spices and heat to your liking, as well. Enjoy!

The final product!

The final product!

Carrot-Squash Curry Soup
Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small apple, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can organic butternut squash puree (or 1 whole squash, cubed)
1 cup plain almond milk
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Saute onion 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, steam carrots and apples until soft. Add carrots/apples to onions along with the curry powder, coriander, ginger, and cayenne pepper. Stir well to coat. Add in butternut squash and almond milk. (Note: if you like your soup thinner, you can also add a cup of veggie broth or water at this point. Personally, I’m a thicker soup kind of gal.) Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender, break up carrot/apple chunks. (If you don’t have one, just pour the soup into a blender and puree until smooth, then return to the pot.) Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the peanut butter and add salt & pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro.¬†

New Vegan Lunch Box!

Good morning, world! Got a new lunch box for ya — enjoy!

I’ve been playing around with a new photo collage app I got, so be patient. Trying to make things a little prettier (like I do with all other things in life!)

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Clockwise, from top left:

Morning snack — Smoothie (made in my new Ninja!!): Beets, apples, and nectarines

Lunch — Black bean and vegetable soup, with extra hot sauce on the side….I like it spicy! Large spinach salad with grape tomatoes, carrots, onions, tortilla strips, and sliced avocado. (This entire thing came from the cafeteria at work!!) Today I used a lime dressing from Newman’s Own…it goes so well with the avocado.

Afternoon snack — chili & lime-flavored roasted chickpeas. I am prooooobably addicted to these. (Note: You can definitely make your own, but I find they don’t store well. You have to eat them all at once. If anyone knows something I don’t about this process, please share your knowledge, oh wise one!)

Morning snack, part 2 — Sea salt pistachios

That’s all, folks! As always, have a healthy and happy day!

Vegan Oatmeal Banana Pancakes: Semi-original

This really is my M.O, isn’t it? Stealing recipes and making them vegan….but you know what? All for a good cause, right?

This one is adapted from the “Moosewood Restaurant New Classics” cookbook. (it’s a great one, by the way — written by the owners of the Moosewood Restaurant in New York — definitely worth checking out!) The pancakes are already vegetarian, but I made some modifications to make them vegan. Enjoy!

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Dry Ingredients:
1 cup wheat flour (use other for gluten-free option)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup rolled oats, ground fine (or can use instant oats)

Mix together all dry ingredients; set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the following:

1 Tbsp ground flax (soaked in 3 Tbsp hot water for 2-3 minutes)
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 Tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup sliced banana

Add these to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Cook on a lightly oiled skillet, 1-2 minutes each side.

There are myriad ways to serve this, but I had a ton of figs that I picked from my best friend’s tree yesterday so I thought they would be lovely with it. They were, along with some fresh strawberries and a dollop of organic peanut butter (aka the food of the Gods, am I right??)

Per pancake: 100 calories, 3 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate.

Vegan Lunch Box – new feature!!

Hey-yo! I’m starting a new blog feature — Vegan Lunch Box! I’m going to show you what I’m packing in my lunches, to show examples of what a well-balanced, energy-sustaining, vegan lunch looks like!

We are so busy in life. Between work, kids, workouts, grocery shopping, cleaning (need I go on?), the last thing we want to worry about is what to eat for lunch. Problem is, when we stop worrying about it, we start eating convenience foods and other “quick fix” items that might be wallet-friendly, but definitely not waistline-friendly. The solution is to pack your own lunch. That way, no matter where you are, you always have a healthy meal on hand. You’re welcome, busy people of the world!

To kick it off, here’s what I packed today:

Counterclockwise, from top right:

Morning snack – organic gala apple and a Raw Rev bar

Lunch – homemade vegan chickpea salad (Oh She Glows recipe, of course!), rice crackers, half an avocado. The salad came from the salad bar at work….take advantage of this! If you don’t have one, pack a salad or some other veggies too.

Pre-Zumba snack – Chocolate banana shake made with almond milk.

*The chickpea salad took 10 minutes to prepare. Everything else was ready to eat.*

Key to success: A well-stocked kitchen!

Keep in the pantry: beans, brown rice, quinoa, pasta, low-sodium diced tomatoes, pita bread, nuts and seeds, whole grain crackers, dried fruits.

Keep in the fridge: cut-up fruits and veggies, fresh herbs, sprouted bread (like Ezekiel), hummus, almond/soy milk, soy yogurt, nutritional yeast.

Keep in the freezer: vegetables, edamame, fruit, dinner leftovers

Keep at work: Various healthy snacks such as nuts, fresh/dried fruit, roasted chickpeas, whole grain crackers,

There are infinite possibilities and combinations using the above foods. Get creative and get packing! Stay tuned for more Vegan Lunch Box, coming soon!

Semi-original recipe: Peach & Plum Cobbler

Why semi-original, you ask? Because I modified an existing recipe to make it vegan. I also used plums instead of the original blueberries, since I had some plums off of our tree out front! (This was exciting, as the tree hadn’t borne in years!) The peaches came from the local farmers’ market. Feel free to experiment with other fruits, depending on what’s in season and what you have available. I think this would be tasty with just about anything! ¬†I made this for breakfast, but it would easily make a great dessert, too!¬†

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Peach & Plum Cobbler

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp coconut oil

3 Tbsp canola oil

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup almond or soy milk

1/2 cup organic sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced

1 cup plums, pitted and chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Place both oils in your baking dish (an iron skillet works great here, otherwise you can use a 9×11) and heat in the oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add milk, sugar, and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the melted oils to the batter and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the hot baking dish. Evenly spread the fruit over the top of the batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until batter is completely set. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

I don’t think I need to tell you that this won’t last long in your house. ¬†Nutritionally, it’s quite decent….beats the heck out of an artery-clogging fruit pastry or doughnut!¬†

Per serving: 180 calories, 8 g fat (3 g saturated), 26 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 3 g fiber. 

Original Recipe: Quinoa Enchilada Bowl

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Hooray, another Jean’s Kitchen original!! I made this up yesterday morning while scrambling to make something to take to work for lunch. I have a terrible tendency to just throw things together without measuring, so I’ve done my best to get the quantities right for you. This was delicious and super filling. Took it for lunch to share with the girls (aka the other dietitians) and it was a hit with them, too!

Makes 2 hearty servings.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa                                                 1/2 cup enchilada sauce

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth                                   2 tsp garlic powder

1 cup cannellini beans                                                        1 tsp chili powder                                              

1/2 onion, chopped                                                           1/2 tsp cumin

1 bell pepper, chopped                                                     1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1 roma tomato, chopped                                                    1/2 cup cilantro, chopped                       

Cook quinoa (using broth instead of water) according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp olive oil in a pan. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add peppers and all seasonings except cilantro and mix well. Saute an additional 2 minutes, then add the beans, tomato, and enchilada sauce. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. 

Place quinoa into the bottom of a bowl. Pour bean mixture on top. Top with additional cilantro and chopped avocado, if desired. 

 

Strawberry season: so short, but so sweet!!

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A delightful concoction of strawberries, agave nectar, lime juice, and silver tequila. Que bueno!

 

Strawberry season in Virginia lasts all of about six weeks. In the past, I would always get my fix by¬†going to pick a few batches at a local berry¬†farm. This year was different, since the backyard crop I planted last spring¬†has just EXPLODED over these past few weeks. I have been¬†picking big bowls of berries on a daily basis. This is great, of course, but then the question arises: what to do with all of this? Fresh strawberries don’t last long, so I knew I had to get creative.

So far, I have dehydrated them, frozen them, and given some away. I’ve made strawberry cupcakes, jam, and smoothies. I’ve put them on salads and made margaritas (the best I’ve ever had, incidentally!). My husband made a fantastic strawberry shortcake the other night. We even fed some to our chickens to see how they liked them (quite well, actually).

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I even pureed some strawberries into the icing!

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Spinach, strawberry, and toasted pecan salad with vidalia onion dressing. 100% vegan and 100% awesome!

Never before have I had to find so many ways to prepare one single type of food! I’m glad I did, though, because it’s taught me how to enjoy my favorite fruit in so many different ways. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick more strawberries.