How to Lose the Dead Weight

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Obviously I’ve been on this journey called life for a minute now.  I’ve said this before, I just want to be happy.  Now don’t get it twisted, saying that doesn’t mean I’m unhappy now.  I look for the positivity in every stage, even the struggles.  Sometimes being happy doesn’t mean adding something.  Sometimes it means losing something, cutting out, saying goodbye.

I’ve said ‘Bye Felicia’ to a lot of things over the last few years.

And I regret none.  Doesn’t mean I don’t miss anything or anyone; missing is fine.  But I say again, I regret NONE.  I’m good with missing as its far outweighed by the value of what’s gained.

So here’s 5 weights I’ve dropped off my back in the last few years.  Thought I’d separate them into physical weight and mental weight, but I won’t because they’re so tightly tangled into each other there’s no getting in-between them.  Holistic AF…

One:  Leaving food to chance.

Unless you fancy and got a chef on call to make you whatever whenever, not planning how you’re going to fuel your body is fucked.  You’ll end up making a bad choice or no choice at all, both of which are torture for your mind & body.  So, on Thursdays we meal plan.  On Friday’s we grocery shop.  And on Sundays we meal prep!

Two:  Consuming animals.

Vegan AF.  Not only has this given me more energy and helped me to lose the extra weight I put on (more on that here), but it’s also lightened my mind.  Living according to your values, especially those ones you subconsciously ignore is fire; matches & accelerant.

Three:  Inorganic Chemicals.

It’s taken some time to source beauty, hair and make-up products that work for me, are natural & cruelty-free and don’t break the bank but I’m almost there.  Again, it just feels better; inside and out.

Four:  Fucking Carbs & Sugar.

Woah brah, I’m not carb-less, but I have severely cut my carb & sweet intake and replaced it with healthy fats and periodic sweet treat cheat days, along with working real hard at keeping my protein intake on point (more details here).  And FYI for any mofo who wants to open the “vegan protein-deficiency debate”: try logging everything you put into your mouth for a week and then tell me you as a meat eater are getting enough protein – If you are, I’m certain you’re in the minority.

Five:  Unlike-Minded People.

Of course everyone doesn’t agree with everything you say and we go out in the world and work with all kinds.  I’m talking about those people who don’t support you, those people that always have some MF negative thing to say and poo poo on your goals.  And those negative people that feed into your insecurities because misery loves fucking company.  Nawwww man.  Fuck them.  Next!

Obviously it’s not easy to not care what people think.  Everyone cares.  Sometimes I say I don’t care, but I really do, just not enough to have someone else’s opinion dictate the value I see in myself and certainly not enough to stop me from doing something that’s right for me.

So drop those sand bags and live free baby!

 

How to eat healthfully even when you’re short on time

I am a born planner.  If a leap of faith is required or I’m forced to think on my feet I will manage, but I must admit that I much prefer being prepared before entering most situations.  I’m a true believer in setting a strong foundation and making sure that I have the right tools for the job.  Of course the best laid plans can crumble, however if there is something that you can do to better prepare yourself, why not give yourself the best chance to succeed?

I look at healthful eating the same way.  If I don’t have the right tools (don’t know what I’m going to make), ingredients (have to go to the grocery store at the last minute) or time and energy (because I came home late from work) then I will undoubtably make bad decisions.  I will pick up fast food or be so famished that I cannot even stand to wait one minute for food to cook (worse yet, if I don’t know what to cook), or I will eat chips or cookies or something that I can grab quickly that is high in fat or sugar (do yourself a favour and don’t even keep these in the house).  So again I ask, why not show yourself some love and give yourself the best chance to make good, healthful choices?

I’ve found that focusing my energy and attention on three main objectives help to maximize the return on my investment towards healthful eating.  Below are my three objectives and they direct how I fuel my body weekly:

  1. Planning
  2. Prepping
  3. Capitalizing on time & energy when it is plentiful and conserving time & energy when it is scarce

Planning

This starts on Thursday night for the following week.  On this night, the next week’s meals are scheduled and the grocery list is made from this menu.  As it’s cold out now, I get groceries before work on Friday morning and leave them in the car while I’m at work.  Since I have to be up for work anyway, why not maximize my time by waking up a little earlier and getting this weekly task out of the way before the weekend starts?  When it’s warmer out I will return to Saturday morning grocery shopping but for now, this helps me get a bit more time out of my weekend.

This week’s menu is as follows:

  • Lunches (Monday to Friday) = Chili tomate rice + spicy black beans + avocado +spicy mustard sauce
  • Dinner on Monday = Creamy scalloped potatoes + asparagus
  • Dinner on Tuesday = General tao chick peas + broccoli + red pepper + rice
  • Dinner on Wednesday = Buffalo broccoli + celery + carrot sticks
  • Dinner on Thursday = Vegan mac & ‘cheese’
  • Dinner on Friday = Butternut squash soup

Some extra notes on planning meals:

Since I’m getting groceries on Friday, meals that require the freshest veggies are scheduled earlier in the week.  This is why the asparagus and broccoli are on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday.  Meals for which the veggies do not need to be as fresh or that include veggies that will last longer are scheduled later in the week.

As I’m now more comfortable with vegan recipes and balancing my meals so that I’m satiated, I’ve added a new task to the mix: using the same veggies in multiple recipes throughout the week.  Broccoli is in two recipes and butternut squash is in three.  Not only does this ensure you are using up your veggies before they go bad, it also saves you from buying more items.

Prepping

I try to prepare as much as I can before actually getting to the cooking process.  This can be pre-chopping veggies before cooking; immediately before cooking or even days before.  Where possible I will even chop the veggies as soon as I get home from the grocery store and before putting them into the fridge.  This week, I did just that and chopped the carrot and celery sticks for Wednesday.  It also provides snack-ready veggies.  I like to do this with fruit as well (mangos for instance, providing they are ripe).  This preparation means that in those times where I find myself heading to the fridge, I have options that are just as convenient as chips or candy (assuming you had those in the house).

The other thing I like to do just prior to cooking is measure out all the ingredients.  This is especially helpful for baking which in most cases consists of a set of wet ingredients (which I put into the mixer) and a set of dry ingredients (which I whisk together in a separate bowl).  Now in the case of cooking this would mean pre-measuring all of the spices and putting them in a small bowl – great for when your recipe calls for multiple ingredients that use the same measuring spoon.  I also pre-measure any liquids so they are ready to be added to the recipe – which again makes the actual cooking process go by faster and avoids having to wash the same measuring cup more than once during the actual cooking process.

Capitalizing on time & energy when it is plentiful and conserving time & energy when it is scarce

I used to prepare just my lunches for the week on Sundays, but lately I’ve been extending that to dinners and sometimes even breakfasts.  There are many people that swear by preparing everything ‘fresh’ the day of and eating it immediately after cooking to obtain the most benefit and flavour from food.  Well here’s the thing, after a long day of work I am not motivated to spend time in the kitchen prepping and cooking a meal, but I do want to eat something healthful and provide my body with the best fuel possible.  It’s great if you are willing to prep and cook everything when you get home from work; but I know that I would not be motivated to do that and would instead make some quick unhealthy meal for dinner.  However, I can motivate myself to follow through with my goal by making that healthful meal as easily attainable as possible.  I’m far less tired on Sunday afternoon than I am on Monday night and in most cases I have more free time on Sunday afternoon than I do on Monday night.  The best return on my time and energy on Sunday is to give myself a fighting chance for Monday to Friday.IMG_0967

On Sunday afternoon for approximately 2 hours, the below was prepared for the week.

  • Lunches (Monday to Friday)
    • cooked chili tomate rice
    • cooked spicy black beans
    • mixed spicy mustard sauce
  • Dinner on Monday
    • chopped sweet potatoes & butternut squash for sauce
  • Dinner on Wednesday
    • chopped celery + carrots (this was actually already done on Saturday)
  • Dinner on Thursday
    • cooked ‘cheese’ sauce
      • 2 containers were filled – one placed in the fridge for this week, one frozen for a later date
  • Dinner on Friday
    • cooked butternut squash soup
      • 1 large container was filled and placed in the fridge for this week, 3 small containers were frozen for a later date

That 2 hour investment means the meals for the week can be ready in less than 20 mins*

*minus the scalloped potatoes as they have to bake for longer

  • Lunches are completely prepared for the week and need only to be packed the night before or morning of (Side note: I used to pre-package in 5 containers for the week but I found it took up too much space in the fridge, plus I like to use my bento box)
  • For dinner on Monday the veggies need to be boiled/steamed, potatoes chopped then baked
  • For dinner on Tuesday the veggies need to be boiled/steamed, rice and chick peas cooked (Side note:  I pre chopped broccoli before but I lost and it got all crumbly so I don’t pre-chop this guy anymore)
  • For dinner on Wednesday the buffalo broccoli needs to be seasoned and baked
  • For dinner on Thursday the pasta needs to be cooked and the sauce warmed
  • For dinner on Friday the soup needs to be warmed

 That 2 hour investment also creates some BONUS meals for a later date:

  • 3 individually sized butternut squash soups are now in the freezer to be eaten when someone is snackish or to be used as another weekday meal
  • an extra container of ‘cheese’ sauce is ready and only pasta needs to be cooked for a quick meal
  • Tuesday’s dinner of General Tao chick peas is also likely to yield some leftovers.  These will also be individually packaged and frozen like homemade “tv dinners” for a later date

After 2 weeks of prepping, by week three there are enough ready-made meals in the freezer to not have to cook anything new for one week.  This results in considerable time and money savings as week three’s grocery trip usually requires only a few add ons.  Plus, these extra meals in the freezer mean that any other time you feel hungry but too tired to cook something from scratch, you always have a healthy option at your fingertips that requires little effort, yet maximizes nutritional benefits.

Incorporating these three objectives into my meal planning helps to save time (during the week) and money, but more importantly it provides the right tools to make the most healthful choices when fueling my body.  Premium fuel means more energy, more efficient use of that energy and most important; self love and happiness.

5 and 1/3 days of vegan meals

 

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what I’ve been eating since deciding to live a vegan lifestyle, which lead me to this food journal…

And just to clarify:

  1. No, I’m not finding it difficult to find things to eat.
  2. Yes, I’m still able to enjoy my favourite dishes.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and certainly does not include all of the snacks, coffees and teas that I consumed.  My hope is that it will satiate your curiousity and maybe even give you some cruelty free meal ideas.  Sunday may seem like an odd place to start, but it’s once of my favourite meals and I couldn’t help sharing it.

DISCLAIMER:  I’ve already started eating some of the food in the photos or the photo is of the leftovers after I’ve finished clearing my plate because, well honestly, I am horrible when it comes to taking photos of my food before I eat it.  Sometimes I just want it to GET. IN. MY. BELLY!

Sunday

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Dinner = Fries Supreme; yukon gold potato fries. lettuce. tomatoes. salsa. jalapeños. Tofutti sour cream. fresh cilantro. nutritional yeast flakes

Monday

Breakfast = coffee+almond creamer. smoothie; beet stalk and leaf. orange juice. 1 banana. chia seeds. Vega coconut almond protein powder
Lunch = Deconstructed Sushi Bowl; white rice. carrots. cucumber. avocado. tamari sauce. black sesame seeds. sea weed.
Snacks = 1/2 cortland apple. banana+chia seeds. sesame seed bagel+ maple peanut butter
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Dinner = chick’n nachos; Gardein chick’n strips. bbq sauce. Tostitos scoops. tomatoes. salsa. green onions. lettuce. Tofutti sour cream. jalapeños. fresh cilantro. nutritional yeast flakes.

Tuesday

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Breakfast = oats. quinoa flakes. currents. coconut flakes. pumpkin granola. peanuts. soy milk. Vega coconut almond protein powder. coffee+almond creamer

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Lunch + Snacks = same as Monday (above photo is of the sushi bowl, mixed and ready for face stuffing)
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Dinner = jambalaya; vegan chipotle sausage. chili style diced tomatoes. vegetable broth. peaches & cream corn. carrots. pobleno pepper. brown rice.

Wednesday

Breakfast = oats. quinoa flakes. currents. coconut flakes. pumpkin granola. peanuts. soy milk. Vega coconut almond protein powder. coffee+almond creamer

Lunch + Snacks = same as Monday

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Dinner = white rice. Granny’s callaloo. falafel (sounds weird I know… West Indian + Mediterranean in one dish, however it was quite delicious)

Thursday

Breakfast = carrots. cucumber. 1/2 cortland apple. vegan friendly cookies. coffee+almond creamer

Lunch = same as Monday

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Dinner = shepherd’s pie; yukon gold potatoes (mashed). lentils. canned peas+carrots. Gardein beefless ground

Friday

Breakfast = oats. quinoa flakes. currents. coconut flakes. pumpkin granola. peanuts. soy milk. Vega coconut almond protein powder. coffee+almond creamer

Lunch + Snacks = same as Monday

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Dinner = Coconut rice. purple yams. broccoli. plantain. cumin-lime black beans.

 

fini!

Quick Meal Prep Tip

Pre-pack breakfast in ready-to-go containers.

 

IMG_0879I’m not a fan of overnight oats as I have ‘a thing’ when it comes to the texture of my food.  Weird, I know because I do like oatmeal but the overnight oats are just a little too soggy for my liking.  I just had this idea while I was packing up my lunch for tomorrow; why don’t I also prepare all the ingredients for my morning oatmeal in a bowl so I would need only to add the soy milk and pop it into the microwave in the morning?

My next thought was, since I am now using my bento boxes for lunch, and have an excess of small containers I used to use for my snacks, why not repurpose these to prepare oatmeal for the rest of the week?  It’s like the Quaker Instant Oatmeal packets you loved as a child (and well into adulthood).  Bonus, you can cater the toppings to your heart’s desire.  Granola, dried fruit, protein powder, chocolate chips, chia seeds, peanuts, almonds; the possibilities are endless.  Plus, if you’re like me you also enjoy snacking on breakfast food in the evening.  So why not have a couple of these guys ready for when you’re feeling snackish?  I’m not saying it’s the healthiest but it’s certainly a better alternative to cookies or ice cream and almost as convenient.