Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Two Year Plant-Based Anniversary

Two years ago today, Michael and I officially started eating a plant-based diet after watching the movie "Forks Over Knives" (available on Netflix). It's our Plantiversary! :)

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Before and After

We made the decision to try a plant-based diet for health reasons and were both fully committed from the beginning. Since then, we have enjoyed absorbing knowledge from experts in this field and affectionately refer to ourselves as "the crazy leaf-eating hippies." Hey, it isn't easy choosing this lifestyle in the great state of Texas.

But for us, that's what it is: a choice. It's a choice we make everyday that our former way of eating was simply not worth it. People may think we're too extreme, and that's okay. For us, it's more extreme to suffer with health ailments that can be completely relieved or prevented. We choose to never "cheat" because in our minds, there is just no point. Plus, we thoroughly love all the food we "get to eat" so there's absolutely no feeling of deprivation.

We realize this choice tends to place us on the outside of many social activities and groups. We do our best to try to participate in other ways, but it's a choice we are comfortable making and one we know that not everyone will feel comfortable with. Again, for us, the benefits we've experienced far exceed the discomfort of feeling excluded from normal food-focused social activities. It's been a huge blessing to us to find fellow plant-based eaters through Facebook and other groups. We even enjoyed going on a McDougall Adventure vacation to Costa Rica this summer, where we met lots of fellow "McDougallers."

After two years of seeing such improvements in our health, that's all the motivation we need to continue choosing this lifestyle:

  • Weight-loss
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Increased energy
  • Increased fitness ability
  • Improved immune system (we haven't been sick, not even with a common cold in almost 2 years)
  • Balanced hormone levels
  • Eliminated menstrual cramps...obviously this one only applies to me :)
  • Healthier, clearer skin and decreased acne
  • Eliminated recurring infections
  • Cured me of my lifelong history of IBS
  • Not taking any medication, vitamin, or supplement

I plan to do a post next on "How to Get Started" in case anyone has no idea where to begin. It will contain my tips and lessons learned from our two years of experience.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our Food Lately

Pictures of more yummy plant-based foods we have enjoyed eating, added to our "So What CAN You Eat?" gallery.

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Salad from Salata...topped with nearly every fresh vegetable, bean, and fruit they offered!

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Fresh-grown broccoli sprouts make a delicious addition to a salad

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Michael is the expert at fitting as many toppings as possible in the Genghis Grill bowl!

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Roasted delicata squash...it has a slight cheesy flavor in our opinion

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Veggie fajitas with sides of Spanish rice and black beans

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Pesto pasta...one of our favorite sauces and it also tastes great on a pizza

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Roasted red pepper and tomato sauce with zucchini and pasta

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Brownie batter dessert dough with fresh apple slices

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Decadent chocolate chip cookies topped with homemade chocolate banana "ice cream" and "banana boats" (bananas topped with peanut butter, chocolate, and honey that you broil in the oven)

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Plant-Based Baby Shower

This past weekend, I had the honor of co-hosting one of my closest friends' baby shower. She enjoys eating a plant-based diet as well and so it was perfectly natural that I volunteered to prepare all of the food for the shower, while my lovely co-host took care of the decorations (which turned out WAY better than my non-crafty self could do!)

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The shower took place in the afternoon, so light snacks were the way to go. I prepared quinoa salad, baked potato bites (stuffed with red onions, carrots, avocado, and salsa), a veggie tray with oil-free roasted red pepper hummus, a fruit tray, and fudgy beet cupcakes with chocolate mousse as the frosting (and we set the extra mousse out as a dipping sauce).

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I loved the look on people's faces when they heard me say that the cupcakes had beets in them. Several jaws dropped. And most of the people did not know until well into the shower that all of the food was vegan, oil-free, and gluten-free. I was so glad that people enjoyed the food because it's important to me to show people that plant-based foods are delicious in their own right, and that we do not eat raw broccoli and tofu all day. :)

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I also made peach punch that turned out pretty tasty.

It was so fun celebrating our friends' little blessing from heaven!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Plants Equal Variety

When we first switched to a plant-based diet, we feared missing out on all the varieties of dishes we were used to eating. But to our great surprise, we discovered that with plants, there is even MORE variety! We've been on a fig kick lately. Well did you know that there are hundreds of fig varieties? Oh the joys of eating plants! Here are more photos of all the wonderful plant-based foods we have the pleasure of eating.

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Black bean burgers on GF whole grain bread with sweet potato "fries"

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Banana pancakes shown topped with fruit preserves or banana butter

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Homemade Rolls (gluten-, oil-, dairy-, and egg-free)

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Our homemade version of Jason's Deli's Zucchini Grillini

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Homemade Bread (gluten-, oil-, dairy-, and egg-free)...so handy to make:

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French toast

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Eggless salad sandwiches

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Chocolate pudding over homemade Nilla cookies and topped with bananas...OMG! :)

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Spinach and sweet potato lasagna

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For Michael's birthday, I made him a cookie cake...and then...

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Served with vanilla Nada Moo ice cream, homemade fudge sauce and chopped peanuts

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Mashed potatoes and a rich brown gravy

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Whole grain cereal with banana milk (blend 1 banana to 1.5 to 2 cups ice cold water)

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Ate at Vegeria in San Antonio for our wedding anniversary.

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Food was delicious, but definitely not oil-free. Rare splurge for us.

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Ate lunch at Whole Foods and got this yummy quinoa salad.

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Mango sorbet topped with dewberry preserves

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Potato "fries" and creamy dipping sauce

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We usually try to limit how many high-fat plant foods we eat (nuts, avocados, and nut butters), but we do occasionally like to just eat some spoonfuls of peanut butter. :)

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Our garden yielded a ton of patty pan squash, so we stuffed them with basmati rice, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms and seasonings

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While in D/FW, we enjoyed a meal at the Spiral Diner. Again, all vegan restaurant, but not oil-free, so it's a rare treat.

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We shared two kinds of burritos that were delicious!

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For dessert, we ordered the Chocolate Mudslide (brownie, chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, and nuts -- all vegan of course)

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Peach oatmeal cereal

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Chocolate chip cookies topped with chocolate Nada Moo, fudge sauce, and chopped pecans

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We have been loving some fresh figs lately! Plan to make some preserves soon.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Homemade Dewberry Cobbler Recipe

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There's just something comforting about harvesting food from the land and using it to nourish your body...or in our case, to satisfy a sweet tooth craving.

It's dewberry pickin' time here in Texas, and so we went on a mission to gather a bunch of them. We first searched around our neighborhood and found a few small bushes, but that yielded only about a cup of berries. But then some friends from church invited us to their co-worker's private property to go dewberry picking.

When I say that this property was covered in dewberry bushes, I'm not even exaggerating. Everywhere you turned, there was a bush ripe with dewberries. We filled a 16-cup container with fresh dewberries.

For those that don't know, dewberry bushes have thorns. Not the fat thorns like a rose bush, but the tiny needle-like kind that burrow in your skin and you feel scratchy for hours later.

But once we tasted the homemade cobbler, it was all worth it! So for those who are fortunate enough to find about 5 cups worth of dewberries, here is a recipe for turning it into a delicious cobbler. This recipe has a lot of crust because I'm the type of girl who likes a high crust to berry ratio, so if you want less crust, reduce accordingly. Enjoy!

Homemade Dewberry Cobbler

Bottom Crust Ingredients:
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 Tbsp maple syrup
2/3 cup oat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, combine the milk, vanilla, and syrup. Stir in the flour and baking powder. The batter will be runny. Pour into an 8x8 or similar sized dish (I used a ceramic oval shaped dish) and bake for 10 to 15 minutes - just enough so the crust hardens a bit and will support the weight of the berries in the next step.

Filling Ingredients:
5 cups dewberries (or other berries of choice)
2 Tbsp maple syrup or lemon juice (I used syrup)
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt

Directions: In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until berries are moistened and well coated. Pour on top of the bottom crust. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper first, then aluminum foil (so the aluminum doesn't directly touch your food) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Top Crust Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp applesauce
2 Tbsp almond butter
Cinnamon sugar mixture for topping, optional

Directions: In a measuring cup, whisk the almond milk and vinegar together, then set aside for a few minutes. Then add the vanilla. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a small bowl, combine the applesauce and almond butter. Cut the applesauce mixture into the flour mixture with a fork or pastry cutter until crumbly. Then add the milk mixture and stir just until moistened (do not over-mix). Drop spoonfuls on top of the berries until evenly covered. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar mixture if desired, and I even sprinkled additional cinnamon on top of that, because I LOVE cinnamon. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.