Monday, August 26, 2013

Vegan BBQ Wings!

Let's face it, when someone first makes the decision to go vegan, they typically expect most of their meals to consist of salads, bean burgers, pastas, and soy based "meat dishes". However, this healthy vegan twist on a dish that's no where near vegan or healthy is a nice way for animal lovers and health advocates everywhere to change things up!

I found this recipe on a site called gluten free vegan girl, which is a healthy vegan blog ran by a wonderful and talented young lady. All of her stuff is awesome, vegan, and healthy... plus gluten free! I have a link to her blog listed under my blog roll, I highly recommend you go by and check out all of her recipes, because they are awesome!

Okay, so anyhow, on to this awesome recipe!

You will need:

1 Large head of cauliflower
1 Cup total of flour (I used half cornmeal half brown rice flour)
1 Cup any non-dairy milk
1 TBSP Garlic powder
1 TBSP Onion powder
About 2 cups Vegan BBQ Sauce (recipe to follow)

First, you are going to want to preheat your over to 450 degrees. Then you will want to wash and cut your cauliflower into smaller pieces. I typically cut most of the stem part off and only use the cauliflower heads because that's the part I like, but you can use whatever parts you want. In a large mixing bowl you will want to combine the flour, milk, garlic and onion powders until you get a well mixed batter.

Then, just pour in the cauliflower and carefully mix until every piece is evenly coated. Place coated cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. While the cauliflower is baking, you can start on making your BBQ sauce.

BBQ Sauce ingredients
1/2 Cup non-dairy milk
1/2 Cup dates
1/2 Cup yellow mustard
3 TBSP Braggs liquid Aminos
1/2 Cup canned tomato paste

Place dates, milk, and liquid aminos in a blender and blend until dates are completely blended (this might take a little time and work). Pour mixture into a small bowl, then stir in tomato paste and mustard until it becomes thick and evenly mixed. Once your wings are done baking (the batter will be crispy on the outside), remove them from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then just use a spatula to move them back into a large bowl, and coat them with the BBQ sauce.

Move the wings back to the baking pan, and bake another 20 minutes or until the outsides become slightly crispy. Let them cool on the pan for a little while (although it will be hard because they smell amazing!) Then transfer to your plate and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 2-3 servings, but I devoured the entire delicious batch within about an hour because they were so wonderful! I hope everyone else enjoys this recipe as much as I did!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

The truth about carbohydrates, and why you should eat more.

By now we have all probably heard someone we know talking about how they don't eat a lot of carbohydrates anymore because "Carbs make you fat!" As someone working towards a degree as a registered dietitian, this drives me crazy! Carbohydrates should be the bulk of our diet, accounting for over half of our daily total calories. Carbohydrates supply our bodies with fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, healthy proteins, antioxidants, and disease fighting phytochemicals. So why is it that everyone is hating on carbohydrates?

With the Atkins diet currently being one of the most popular diets in the country, it seems like almost everybody blames carbohydrates for unwanted weight gain. Many people have been turning to extremely low carbohydrate diets to lose weight, and while low carbohydrate diets are usually effective for weight loss if followed correctly, they certainly aren't healthy.

It is recommended that about 60 percent of our daily calories come from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are our bodies first choice and main source of energy. People who follow low carbohydrate diets are setting themselves up to constantly feel tired and fatigued. Along with a lack of energy, people who follow low carbohydrate diets are more than likely missing out on a lot of essential vitamins and nutrients that our bodies get from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber is also something that people who follow a low carbohydrate diet are probably not getting enough of, and all of these nutrients are important for overall digestive health and proper immune function.

Not only are low carbohydrate diets usually low in essential nutrients that come from most fruits, vegetables, and grains, but they are also way too high in fat and protein in order to compensate for the lack of calories coming from carbohydrates. Eating too much fat and protein and not enough carbs can cause serious health issues such as heart disease, and ketosis. Ketosis is a state that your body goes into when it doesn't have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy and starts converting fat that is stored in your body into glucose to be used for energy instead. While this does help people lose weight, it is not healthy for your body, and can cause a variety of serious health problems. Ketosis is basically your body going into shock from lack of energy from carbohydrates, and results in people feeling fuller with less food, and their metabolism slowing down in order to compensate for the deficit, which can result in long term effects on a persons metabolism and body.

Problems caused by low carbohydrate diets-

Kidney Failure- Due to the extremely high amount of protein being consumed, the kidneys are constantly forced to do too much work and become easily strained. Along with the kidneys, other organs can fail too as a result of an altered metabolic state and ketones constantly being released in the body.

High cholesterol- High protein diets (especially those high in red meats and dairy products) causes an unsafe rise in cholesterol levels.

Osteoporosis and kidney stones- High protein diets have been shown to cause people to excrete large amounts of calcium through their urine, increasing a persons chance for developing kidney stones or osteoporosis.

Cancer- The lack of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains causes an increased risk for cancer since these foods contain the best cancer fighting nutrients.

So, what percentages are recommended for overall healthy? Well, about 60 percent of your overall calories should come from carbohydrates, about 15 percent from protein, and about 25 percent from fat. This type of diet is recommended by the for overall health, wellness, and disease prevention.

For weight loss and overall wellness, the quality of carbohydrates, fat, and protein should also be just as important as the percentages you are getting. Part of the reason carbohydrates have been given such a bad rap is because the majority of the carbohydrates that the average American consumes are refined and indeed unhealthy. There is a huge difference between the carbohydrates from an apple and the carbohydrates from chocolate cake. Instead of cutting back on carbs, people just need to use good judgement to pick the right ones instead of treating them like they are all equally bad.

Whole Grains!

People who are dieting tend to avoid breads more than anything else, however, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats are great sources of carbohydrates. These grains will supply your body with healthy unrefined carbohydrates that will stabilize blood sugar levels, give your body the energy it needs to do daily tasks, and help keep you full without supplying too many calories or too much fat. In countries where whole grains are the main dietary staple, rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are a lot lower than in America. The key with grains and breads is to avoid heavily processed and refined grains, such as white breads and white rice. Contrary to popular belief, breads and grains are extremely healthy, and is is recommended that we get 6-11 servings of whole grains a day.

Fruits and veggies!

Everyone knows that vegetables are healthy, but many people avoid fruit because they are convinced that sugar is bad. While too much sugar is not a good thing for anyone, the natural sugar found in fruits is the healthiest sugar you can possibly eat. Fruits and vegetables supply the highest percentage of vitamins and minerals per calorie. Dark leafy greens are especially important in a healthy diet, and provide a lot of cancer fighting nutrients. A colorful diet that consists of a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is one of the healthiest diets you can follow. The average American should be getting at least 5 servings of vegetables a day, and at least 3 servings of fruit.

Low carbohydrate diets have been proven useful to help people lose weight, but overall are hard on our bodies, and can be very dangerous if followed long term. I would personally recommend a diet high is complex carbohydrates, and rich in fruits and vegetables to promote healthy weight loss instead of cutting carbohydrates down to an unhealthy percentage that will more than likely leave you feel tired and irritable. Consuming whole foods, and limiting your intake of fat to 25-20% along with regular exercise is the best way to reach a healthy lean weight.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gluten Free Runners Banana Bread

This banana bread is so awesome. It's made with the healthiest possible ingredients, and is perfect to eat before a long run. I and used brown rice flour to make it gluten free, but you could still use wheat flour. This banana bread is thick, rich, moist, and naturally sweetened just a bit. This bread doesn't last long at all in my house, and a warm batch fresh out of the oven is usually gone within about 30 minutes.

2 Flax eggs (2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds, and 6 Tablespoons water)
3 Large, very ripe bananas
1/2 Cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 Cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 Cup dates
1/4 Cup agave nectar
4 Cups brown rice flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cinnamon


Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Combine flax seeds and water in small bowl and set aside. Combine almond milk and dates in a food processor or blender (use the smallest container you can) and blend until dates are completely blended and the mixture is light brown and smooth. Pour your date paste mixture into a large mixing bowl, then add in bananas and applesauce and blend. I threw all of this into my kitchen aid mixer and let it do the work for me. You could also use a hand mixer to blend everything together. Once everything is blended, add in the flax eggs and blend completely.

In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix together. Once mixed, slowly spoon dry ingredients into wet ingredients bowl and mix completely until everything is in one bowl and the dough is ready. I used two standard sized bread pans to bake all of my bread. You can fill them up fairly high because the bread doesn't rise very much, but I would still suggest leaving a little room at the top of the pan.

Note: For a sweeter bread you can also add a Tablespoon of Stevia.

Bake bread for 35-45 minutes, let cool, and enjoy!

Pumpkin Crock Pot Chili

This recipe if perfect in the fall, although I will make whenever I feel like throwing a bunch of stuff into a crock pot for an easy warm meal later that evening. I also like this recipe because it's a nice change of pace from typical chili recipes, and the sweet and saltiness go together so well to balance each other out. Plus with the brown rice, beans, and different vegetables, you are getting a complete protein meal along with vitamin A from the pumpkin, carrots, or sweet potatoes, and lycopene from the fresh tomatoes!


4 large tomatoes chopped finely
2 cups chopped carrots or sweet potatoes
1 large finely diced onion
1 cup of brown rice
2 cans of cooked pinto beans
1 can of cooked black beans
1 can of 100% pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 Tablespoon cumin powder
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 Tablespoons cinnamon powder
salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast to taste

Throw everything into a slow cooker and set heat to high for 8-10 hours, then enjoy at the end of a long day! You can really change this recipe up however you want. I almost never make the exact same thing twice. I usually just combine things from my kitchen until I end up with something I like.

Crispy Tempeh Salad

I love tempeh! It has a nice solid texture, so it wont fall apart on you like tofu or sietan will. Plus, tempeh is loaded with protein, and has a less fat when compared to tofu. You can do practically anything with tempeh, from making temeph bacon, to tempeh sandwiches, to just straight up seasoning and grilling it. Like tofu it's practically flavorless, so you can really make it taste like whatever you want. One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy tempeh, is by pan frying it, and enjoying it over fresh greens!

All you need is:

A package of tempeh
1 Tablespoon Tahini (a sesame seed butter)
2 Tablespoons water
Fresh lettuce
Your favorite salad dressing (I usually use Annie's Organic salad dressings)

Once you manage to get the tempeh out of the package(and believe me, this can be pretty tricky. They seal it in air tight!)Cut it up into small cubes, and toss it in a frying pan set to medium heat. in a small container, mix tahini and water, then pour mixture over tempeh. (The tahini is what will give your tempeh it's flavor and crispiness.) Mix and fry tahini until it is lightly browned. Then serve over a bed of fresh lettuce, and top with your favorite dressing (I also chose to add hemp seeds to my salad) and wala, a protein packed salad!

Easy Tomato Penne Pasta

All you need is:

-Half a box of whole wheat penne pasta boiled
-One package of firm fortified tofu
-3 large crowns of fresh broccoli
-A small can of tomato paste and seasonings OR vegan pasta sauce

Start off by boiling penne pasta in a large pan. Then drain and cut tofu into small cubes and fry in a pan over medium. While pasta and tofu are cooking, chop up and wash fresh broccoli crowns. Throw broccoli in on top of cooked boiling noodles, and cover with the lid for about 5 minutes to steam the broccoli. When tofu is lightly browned and slightly crispy on the outside, remove from heat and set aside. If you are making your pasta sauce, just mix the can of tomato paste with water, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and any other desired spices until you reach the consistency and flavor desired. Now just drain the broccoli and pasta, and separate if desired. Otherwise, mix all ingredients together in one large bowl or pan and enjoy.

You could also top this penne off with some shredded vegan mozzarella cheese, or sprinkle on some nutritional yeast flakes for a little extra cheesy flavor.

Chocolate Banana Coconut Muffins

I tried to come up with a recipe that was simple, quick, and nutritious. Coconut oil is full of healthy fats that increase good cholesterol, can help restore normal thyroid function, and help our bodies build resistance to bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Coconut oil also helps the liver break down healthy fats to use for energy, which is why coconut oil is perfect for runners to consume before a race because it helps their body burn fat for energy instead of mainly depleting their glycogen stores in their muscles. Natural unprocessed cocoa powder is full of natural antioxidants, and, well... bananas have always been amazing.

-1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
-1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
-2 Tablespoons 100% Cocoa Powder
-1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
-2 Mashed Bananas
-1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
-1/2 Tablespoon Stevia/or two packets (optional)
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-Pinch of salt

(Makes 6 muffins)

Mix together dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Then in a small bowl mash bananas until pureed. add milk, oil, and the rest of the ingredients into bowl and blend. Then add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until completely blended. Spray muffin pan, divide batter, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

I made this recipe very basic so that you can add/change whatever you would like. You could always add nuts, vegan chocolate chips, shreds of coconut... whatever. I really enjoyed these muffins, they have a nice dense texture like banana bread, and a subtle hint of coconut and chocolate.

Side Note: Make sure to refrigerate muffins in a sealed container after they cool, otherwise they wont keep because of the bananas.

Tofu Spinach Pizza

This recipe takes a little more time, but is TOTALLY worth it. I made this after a long run, and ate more than half of the whole pizza... it was so good! I know that a lot of stores now sell vegan cheese and vegan pepperoni, but I"m not really a fan of fake animal products that have artificial flavorings and dyes. Trying to make something that's not an animal product look and taste like it is just doesn't make sense to me. I would much rather just be creative and do something new... and thus, this recipe was born.

Pizza crust- I made my own pizza crust because I couldn't find any pre-made crusts that were whole wheat. (I am very picky about all of my bread being whole grain, none of that processed bleached refined junk!)

Pizza Crust Recipe-
-2 1/2 Cups 100% whole wheat flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 Tablespoon oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
-3/4 to 1 cup water (add water as needed)

-1/2 small can of 100% hunts tomato paste and equal parts water
-1 Tablespoon onion powder
-1 Tablespoon garlic powder
-1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
dash of salt and pepper

-1 block of firm tofu, scrambled and lightly browned in a skillet (I use fortified tofu because it has essential b vitamins, especially b12)
-2 cups chopped spinach
-2 Tablespoon diced garlic (I mixed this in with the tofu when I scrambled it)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning to taste

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, and then enjoy some delicious pizza!

Black Bean Burritos

I love these! They are so easy to make, and perfect to eat for dinner the night before a run. Just mix a can of rinsed black beans, a half of cup of corn, a diced tomato, and a diced onion in a skillet and cook on low until the beans are done and the corn is thawed(I used frozen corn). Sprinkle with Mexican/taco seasoning and any other spices you want to use. Put mixture on a whole wheat tortilla and add lettuce, avocado, salsa, etc. and there you go, delicious vegan burritos!

Easy Vegan Pancakes

What better way to start a Saturday morning than with some delicious pancakes... and what goes better with pancakes that fresh blueberries? These pancakes were really easy to make, and they came out super fluffy and delicious! All you need is a few ingredients and about 10 minutes! Plus, you can really change this recipe to make any kind of pancakes you want!

1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt to taste
1 tsp of stevia
1/2 Cup vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk (or any non-dairy milk)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together, then add in milk and your batter is done! For the topping, all I did was take about a cup of blueberries and mash them up with a fork until they made a nice fruit compote topping for the pancakes, and that's it! (I also added chi seeds on top of my blueberry topping for a little extra Omega 3)

Cheesy Vegan Quinoa and Potato Dinner

Quinoa is a super grain! It is packed with protein, gluten free, and is a good source of complex carbohydrates. I like to fill up on quinoa the night before a long run, and this recipe is perfect for easy delicious carbo-loading. Plus, the nutritional yeast provides a delicious cheesy flavor along with essential vitamins and minerals.

1 Cup Organic Quinoa
2 Cups Water
4 Cups of Diced Summer Squash
1 Large White Onion Diced
1-2 Medium Sized White Potatoes Diced
1 TBSP Garlic Powder
1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Combine water and quinoa in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then turn sown heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Throw diced squash, potatoes, and onion all into a skillet and cook until onions are caramelized and squash is slightly browned. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and any other seasonings you would like to add to the potatoes and squash. Remove lid from boiler pan and add the grilled vegetables to the quinoa. Add nutritional yeast and mix completely... then enjoy!