Vegan Mofo Day 27: Soup, Sandwich, and Salad Saturday: Salad tips

So far this Saturday theme has been all about soups and sandwiches, like my recipe for Jackfruit Chicken Noodle Soup, California Club Sandwich with Nori Bac’non, and Easy Creamy Tomato Soup with Basil Grilled Cheese. Today, I’m going to finally address some salads.

I have been trying to eat a salad almost daily for a meal for over a year now. At first, I figured I’d just put as many vegetables as I could possibly chop and cram into a large bowl with not much else, but there was so much chewing involved that I ended up eating it for over an hour. That wasn’t too fun.

Eventually I started getting the hang of it. To make a good meal salad, you typically need more than veggies. Although protein isn’t as big a deal as people make it out to be, we still need a minimum amount each day at least. That can be hard if you eat one meal a day without any substantial source of it.

For a long time I was obsessed with Boca Chick’n patties on my salads. I’d cook them in the oven, cut them up and toss them in. Nowadays, not so much. They’re a bit expensive and I’m not really a fan of them for other reasons as well. Sometimes I will get them as a treat, though or if they’re on sale.

Here’s a few salads I have made in the past:

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This is I believe the Thanksgiving salad I had blogged about awhile back.

IMG_1348Here is the Burrito Explosion salad, also made awhile back.

Anyways, I think I’ve developed a bit of a formula for the perfect meal salad. It requires a delicate balance of textures and ingredients.

I’ve composed a little menu of different types of ingredients and things you can choose from to create the perfect salad. Each heading has the explanation of how many you should include…

The Base (2-3 cups)-Greens of some type:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Mixed spring greens
  • Kale
  • Cabbage

(You get the idea, you can mix say, 1 cup of spinach with 2 cups of romaine, or any other combination you desire here)

The Protein- Usually soft (1-2 servings):

  • Some type of your favorite veggie burger, chopped up
  • Beans of any type
  • Edamame
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Seitan
  • Marinated and grilled tofu (or even plain tofu)
  • Tempeh
  • Tofurky slices
  • Gardein Products
  • Any other meat substitutes, like Beyond Meat

The crunchy element (1-3 things):

  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Carrot rounds
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Croutons
  • Crunchy Tortillas
  • Potato chips (yes, I’ve done this!)
  • Crispy fried vegetables like onions (or I like these crispy fried red pepper strips that I get in the salad supplies in the grocery store)
  • Wontons or crispy lo mein noodles
  • Water chestnuts
  • Pickles

Other optional additions:

  • Baby corn
  • Regular corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Dried Cranberries, raisins, or other dried fruit, like goji berries or whatever
  • Red onion
  • Olives
  • Beets
  • Fresh Salsa
  • Vegan Cottage Cheese (my recipe can be found here)
  • Basically anything you desire and think up!

The Smooth (dressing):

I try to base the dressing I select on the rest of the ingredients I have used. If it has a certain area of the world associated with the flavors, I will try to honor that. For example, maybe a salad with spinach and napa cabbage, tofu, sesame seeds, water chestnuts, wontons, and baby corn with have an Asian Ginger Sesame dressing. Or a salad with romaine, black beans, tortillas, carrots, red onion, and salsa will have a spicy South American style dressing, maybe by combining salsa with vegan sour cream and some hot sauce, even.

Avocados are also a great thing to add if you don’t want to add dressing, or if you want to make a dressing with them!

Here’s a good big list of no oil dressings you can make yourself that are easy and I’ve tried many of them. I really liked E2 Basics recipe for a long time…

I also wanted to share two of my favorite salads I have made through other vegan blogs that seem to fit my expectations:

Donut Salad from Bake And Destroy

Aloha Salad from Healthy Happy Life

There ya go! What are some of your favorite salad ingredients? Tell me in the comments.

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Bonus Blog Post for the day! Definition Magazine.

Hey! I’m back. I sort of miss being able to post things without them needing to fit into my vegan mofo theme, so I thought I’d make an extra post.

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I have recently started editing at an awesome vegan fitness magazine for women. It’s called Definition and currently it is available through various online sites for free or by donation (but the donations go directly to trying to get it published for newsstands!). You can find more information on it here!

It includes some great vegan Rosh Hashanah recipes, (which was actually the topic of my first ever blog post here a year ago) by the lovely Emily Segal! And it includes lots of other amazing nutrition information, recipes, workout tips, and plant-powered fitness stories!

How running as a vegan might save my life somehow.

Okay, I have to try to write this out fast because I need to be on time to a job interview (!!!)

Good thing I already have it mostly formed in my head.

This isn’t a food post as usual. But, it has a lot to do with my life story, my interests, my path to a better life, health, and wellbeing which all fits into why I started and continue with this blog. Plus, most of my followers are people who I care about deeply, and it will hopefully make them happy to see me write about this!

It also relates to my most popular post ever, which was also not about food (go figure?!) that you can read here.

Anyways, I have been feeling horrible mentally lately. My mind is often telling me I am unable to make important decisions, motivate myself to get out of bed, do anything important, and that I am basically crap, even though I know deep down I am not and am much more capable than I feel, which is the most frustrating part. It may be my old friend depression returning, but it may be something else as well, because recently my doctor told me my thyroid test came back abnormal, and I have to get it rechecked soon. That would be nice if I actually had a hormonal reason for this misery, although I remain quite doubtful.

However, despite all the negativity creeping into my life these days, I am still plugging along at many things I hold dear to me now and somehow managing to convince myself I have to do them to feel better, or just do them regardless even if I do not feel better.

One of these things I have been keeping up with is running.

I may have mentioned somewhere that you have read that I could never really run, even as a child. I had completely given up on the idea long, long ago that I would ever be able to run at all, even if I was almost late to somewhere I had to walk more than 5 minutes to get to and being late would get me in trouble. It was especially evident in school when I had to run whatever they make you do for the physical fitness testing, I often felt I tasted blood in my throat after running for about 5 minutes.

This was seriously something I thought was impossible. But a year ago, apparently I set out to do just that. While I still can’t run 30 minutes straight which is my goal eventually, I am well on my way. I am registered for a 5k in mid August, and it is going to happen by then, I know this.

How do I know? I started the couch to 5k program on my phone a few days before I graduated from my community college on May 16. Today I just finished week 5, day 2 of the program. At first, it was easy, even with my long-held beliefs and self doubt about being able to do this. Week 5, day 2 of the program I am using is as follows:

5 minute warm-up

5 minute run

3 minute walk

8(!!!!!!) minute run

4 minute walk

5 minute run

5 minute cool-down

Before I started this run my mood was hopeless, and as I began to walk the warm-up, I was telling myself I was not going to be able to do it, especially the eight minute run.  But as soon as the buzzer went off to start the 8 minutes, something somehow changed! I was telling myself “here we go, you can get through this!” Then, before I knew it, it told me I had five minutes left. And since I had just finished running for 5 minutes successfully about six minutes ago, it triggered even more positive self talk! For a short second a negative thought crept in, reminding myself I still had to run another five minutes after I got to walk for four minutes after this (would I even finish these eight minutes?) but it quickly returned to all this self praise as my legs kept moving regardless. I told myself “I am really going to do this!) and as the buzzer went off telling me to start walking for four minutes, I was crying tears of joy.

Then I ran for another five minutes and cooled down and finished the work out, like a pro (gotta tell myself that! haha).

This run was exactly what I needed. Running is saving my life, I believe, because when I am most down on myself and feel like giving up, I am able to run. And in my mind, it was something I had previously deemed impossible. Yet, when I am feeling
my worst, I prove to myself I can do the impossible.

Here is a picture of me shortly after. It was hard to force myself to smile because I was fighting back some proud tears, which actually I have had lately more than I realize…

 

post run

 

 

 

Foodie (Photo) Friday! Aloha salad, holiday pie, green smoothies, galore!

Hello!

I was sick this week with a pretty exhausting cold. I’m feeling much better now, though. Since my exhaustion and my lung congestion made it difficult for me to work out, I decided I was going to try and eat much better than usual and eat more fruits and veggies than normally (even though on average I get at least 10 servings a day or so) and so I finally gave in and tried some green smoothies. I think I’m going to be better about eating more fruits and veggies (Including green smoothies) from now on even though I’m not sick, because… duh. I also ate a lot of Amy’s No Chicken Noodle soup, which was awesome.

The first one was a banana-less kale based “Green monster” one here

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I had to add a lot of extra water because it came out way too thick. Also, I gagged several times still, and it sort of tasted like a salad dressing or something to me, oops. But I thought it was decent at first, since I had never had one before, that is, until I tried the Caramel Apple Green Smoothie from the recipes here. That one is by far much tastier. I used almond butter instead of sunbutter though. I don’t have a picture of that one, though.

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Next was the Holiday Pie from The Vegan Stoner Cookbook. It’s basically tofu and non dairy milk blended together, mushrooms and garlic cooked in soy sauce, prepared stuffing, and I decided to use the optional tofu hot dogs on top. I also dipped it in cranberry sauce. It was quite delicious.

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I rate this recipe 4 good bananas, one bad! (It just didn’t have the total wow! factor of 5 good ones, but I like it)

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Then there is this salad I made tonight!

Aloha Salad with Tiki Tempeh.

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So good, and made me think of fond memories from the Summer. I didn’t think bananas would be so tasty and add such a great texture contrast to this but it was definitely the best part for sure! Everything tastes so good, though! I also majorly splurged on a small amount of macadamia nuts which are so yummy, and added reduced fat dried coconut. The dressing is creamy and super tasty, the tempeh has great flavor, and all the fruits along with the spinach and cole slaw mix are wonderful together.

This has to be rated 5 good bananas!Image

I’m hoping this upcoming week I’ll have time to write some more fun entries besides just on Friday, but we’ll see what my life has in store from me. Until then take care and eat yummy foods!

Becoming a Healthy Vegan

I’m on a quest to become a healthy vegan. Becoming a healthy vegan may not always mean the person trying to become healthier needs to lose weight, but for me it has. I started out obese, and a doctor’s visit before I went back to veganism showed that my cholesterol was high, and so was my blood pressure (for my age especially, which scared me, which is why I started this quest right away after realizing it all). So far I have lost a bit over 50 lbs, and am really happy so far with my progress. I want to share some ideas I have about how people can become a healthy/healthier vegan, based on what’s worked for me and also what I’ve read about and the information I’ve absorbed.

As I like to say, often when talking to non-vegans about veganism, it is entirely possible to be an unhealthy vegan. People seem to think vegan = healthy or vegan=skinny but that’s just not true all the time.  Just taking a look at all the mainstream brands listed here that carry “accidentally vegan” products will give you an idea of how that’s possible (note: I’m skeptical that some of these are completely vegan, as some may have bone char sugar used sometimes, etc so eat these at your own risk).  Plus, vegan companies (and companies that aren’t exclusively vegan but market vegan products occasionally) are often devoted to veganizing non-vegan junk food staples.

My philosophy about becoming a healthy vegan though is to not give up too much more than what I have to. I’m already refraining from dairy, meat, and other animal derived products (for many reasons- both ethical and health-wise), so having junk food in moderation, or a good helping of pasta (like the cashew mac and cheese I made the other day) once in awhile isn’t going to totally hurt me. Especially if you look at the types of foods I’d typically eat when not vegan.  I mean, if you want to totally cut out all overly oily, starchy, sugary, types of snacks and meals all the time, and stick to just the healthy necessities,  then I commend you! But personally I feel like I will be too grumpy without indulging sometimes. It’s okay to have treats as long as I don’t go overboard or neglect other healthier and important food groups.

With that in mind, I try to eat at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but really, I aim for at least 10! The most I’ve ever done in a day since trying to increase my consumption of fruits and veggies is 15 (but I counted 5 of them from my shake, so maybe that’s technically cheating?) I try to have well balanced meals with every main food group involved but that can be difficult especially because I personally can’t eat 3 large meals only a day…I need to have 3 medium sized meals a day at normal mealtimes and about 3 other small meals (basically snacks…but not always junk food snacks) in between or I get too hungry and irritable feeling.

So, you may have seen it on pinterest or my facebook page (which by the way you should like it here if you haven’t already!) but a little while ago I illustrated a vegan food pyramid to put in a post like this.  I’m really excited about it because it looks SO AWESOME. I definitely put a lot of love and time into it. It’s not a perfect nutrition guide, but hopefully it can give you an idea of what a vegan food pyramid would be like, and all the different examples of awesome food we vegans eat. It’s not a comprehensive list of all the foods in each group, because, uh, the possibilities are so abundant and always expanding and I wouldn’t have room for that on a 8.5×11″ paper… (my hands would’ve hurt 1,000x more too after it was “complete” hehe). Anyways, without further ado (Please click on it to see a larger, more readable size):

food pyramid

I can’t say I follow this perfectly every day, but I do make sure that I eat at least 7+ servings of veggies most days, and that basically everything else is met throughout the day. I just don’t necessarily make sure every meal is the way the food pyramid says to do it (I based/adapted my image off of a vegetarian food pyramid I saw on the back of a can of chickpeas). I have given up all carbonated beverages after reading in several places how horrible carbonation is for your body (never mind the artificial sugars or fructose syrup they’re often ladled with), only cook occasionally with alcohol (but never drink alcohol or do drugs!) and only have about 1 cup of coffee a day. These things are definitely good to keep in moderation if you  don’t want to completely abstain from them.  I probably should have had something about smoking and drug use illustrated too, because I don’t recommend that in order to get healthy either, but yeah! And I drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water a day (I’d rather get my calories from food, not drinks that neglect to make me feel fulfilled.) Also, exercise is so good for you! It helps me a lot with mood problems and has lots of other benefits for your body, such as ability to decrease blood pressure, lose weight, stay active and sharp-minded, have fun, reduce stress, combat depression, etc (the list goes on and on!)

In addition, there are some really great tools I have found. For me, it’s made sticking to my goals much easier if I track my food and exercise every day and am completely honest with myself about it. The best place to do it I’ve found, is a website sparkpeople.com. I love this site because not only does it have a calorie tracker, but it also takes some of the guess work out of figuring out a calorie range you need if you want to lose weight healthfully, has an exercise tracker and lots of exercise demos (both strength training and cardio), lots of ways to get support from people on the web (especially people like me trying to get healthy or trying to lose weight), message boards, health articles, recipes, etc! It can be a great way to get a fairly good idea whether you need to ramp up your B vitamins and other vitamins and nutrients because it keeps track of how much you’ve consumed through food each day. It’s the best. I recommend it to everyone who asks about what I’m doing or who talks to me asking for advice based on my success so far. The best part is it’s a completely free website except for the sparkcoach, which I don’t need or want…haha.

I also like some exercise apps on my iPhone, such as Runkeeper and Gympact. Sparkpeople has an app that is really useful, although that does cost a small amount to purchase from the app store. It has all the same stuff as the website has though, I just like it because I can track things on the go without having to go to the computer all the time.

Also, if you’re reading this as a non-vegan and want to know more about simply becoming a new vegan, here are two great resources I recently found:

Going Vegan Isn’t Crazy (Reader’s Digest)

Go Veg Guide (Vegnews Magazine)-for people ready (or who may need some convincing!) to take the Vegan plunge (in .pdf form)