Asparagus Soup

“You can’t eat this soup standing up, your knees buckle!” -Jerry Seinfeld

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We love asparagus in our family. There’s always a lot of excitement in the air when I pick up asparagus at the grocery store. There are so many fantastic ways to cook it. In honor of the glorious cold weather that is finally moving into Galveston I thought it would be the perfect time to share my Asparagus Soup recipe! The original recipe called for more butter, heavy cream, and a few other ingredients I didn’t care for. I wanted to make a soup that was delicious and warm, easy to make, and would not make us all feel heavy or gross after having a nice big bowl of it! As usual, this recipe is vegan/vegetarian friendly but you do not have to be either of those things to enjoy it!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs green asparagus
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp of vegan butter
  • 5 cups of no-chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of coconut creamer

Dice your entire onion and set it aside in a bowl.

The second step is VERY important-cut the woody stem ends from the asparagus stalks before dicing! (I did not do this the first time and wasting 2lbs of fresh green asparagus soup is very frustrating!) Cut the remaining asparagus into 1/2 inch slices.

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Cook your diced onion with your butter in a heavy pot over medium-low heat until softened. Add the asparagus and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add your broth, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes!

Once your asparagus is nice and tender begin pouring your soup into a blender in batches. Be very careful when blending the soup since it will be very hot. (My method was to pules each batch 6-8 times then blend straight for about 45 seconds!)

Pour blended soup into a large serving bowl and slowly stir in the coconut creamer. Salt and pepper your soup to your own liking and serve!!

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Thanks for stopping by!

-M

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Mash

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces– just good food from fresh ingredients.” -Julia Child

I stopped by the farmer’s market a few weeks ago and picked up a beautiful basket of locally grown sweet potatoes. I usually make sweet potato mashed potatoes or sweet potato crisps but this week I wanted pumpkin in just about everything that went into my mouth. So, I decided to invent for the first time ever Pumpkin Sweet Potato Mash. (Not really, there are thousands of recipes on line that combine these darling flavors.) This side is simple, delicious, and oh so fall. So, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3.5 lbs of sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1″ pieces.
  • 1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 1TBSP vegan butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

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  • Bring a pot 3/4 full of water to a rolling boil.
  • Peel and dice your sweet potatoes into 1″ pieces then add them to the boiling water for 25 minutes or until pieces are very soft and easily broken up with a fork.
  • When the potatoes are done, drain the water. Then add butter, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Mix the ingredients altogether using a hand mixer for about 2 minutes then add your almond milk and blend again until smooth.
  • When serving I like to top the potatoes with cranberries, pumpkin seeds, or pecans and a little bit of maple syrup and cinnamon!

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I served the Pumpkin Sweet Potato Mash with tofu steaks, sauteed onions and mushrooms, along with a spinach, cranberry, apple salad with fig balsamic!  You can substitute tofu for regular steak, chicken, or fish! This would also be a healthier alternative to the traditional candied yams with marshmallows for your upcoming Thanksgiving meal! Bon appetit!

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Thanks for reading,
-M

Recipe | Spiced Lentils and Rice

Our Creator knows just what we need. God, who made food for our provision and pleasure, made the table for our souls.” – Joanne Thompson, Table Life

There are three things I like most about preparing food.

1. I like the  food I prepare to bring people together. I love to fellowship over a nice big meal. If I want someone to come visit I also share what the menu will be. The experience of everyone passing bowls left to right and discussing a wide variety of different topics over the span of 45 minutes to an hour just warms me.

2. The second thing I like about preparing food is the appearance. Food is so beautiful. We have a wide array of different colors, shapes, and grooves in our food. It not only nourishes our body but it can also be so pleasing to the eye.

3. The last, and most important thing, I like about preparing food is the thrill of discovering a recipe that is both good for your body and enjoyable to eat. The challenge of preparing a meal for a family that is both delicious and nutritious is something I’ve really grown to love.

This meal incorporates ALL of my favorite parts of preparing a good meal.

The flavors are incredible, the texture is fantastic, and it has some wonderfully beneficial ingredients for your body! This is one meal that I love making for guests. The last time my in laws were in town I served up a big pot of this and we sat over it talking and enjoying all the colors, flavors, and smells it brought through to the kitchen. It was beautiful. I was so pleased to share what was in it knowing that the ingredients were jam packed with fiber and other fabulous nutrients.

One of my favorite foods in the entire world is rice. I love me some bleached to high heaven starchy goodness. I’ve never liked brown rice and I’ve never liked lentils. However, with bleached to high heaven goodness comes, well, not much! When you mill brown rice to remove the bran and most of the germ you get a food that taste good but is now stripped of fiber, many of the nutrients, and natural oils that were once present making this more than just a tasty food! The goal in our kitchen every day is to make and eat foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories. So, white rice just doesn’t make sense for us anymore. However, brown rice is a wonderful substitute. Lentils are mighty little legumes! Packing 62.4% percent of your daily fiber in 1 cup! This is important because soluble fiber helps to balance your blood sugar. Thanks to the magnesium in these bad boys they are good for your heart. Then there’s of course your seasonings, which may providing cholesterol control thanks to curry,  anti-inflamatory benefits thanks to garlic, and gastrointestinal relief (nausea, dizziness, seasickness, morning sickness) due to the ginger!

When I first found this recipe it called for quite a lot of olive oil and white rice so I’ve changed it up a bit. What you will need:

  • 2 cups of cooked green lentils
  • 2 cups of dry brown basmati rice
  • 3 cups of water or vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 TBSP of olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced (optional)
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, diced (optional)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 TBSP of fresh ginger, diced
  • 3 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 3 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 TBSP curry powder
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3-4 TBSP of lime juice

Heat about 1/2-1 TBSP of olive oil in a pot. Sauté your onions, mushrooms, garlic and ginger together until the onions are translucent. Next, add your cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and turmeric. Sauté this mixture for only 30 seconds then add your rice, water, remaining 2 TBSP of oil, and bring to a boil! Cover your pot with a tight fitted lid, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 40 minutes! While the rice is cooking chop your cilantro and juice your lime(s). When the rice is ready simply stir in your 2 cups of cooked green lentils, dump in your cilantro, sprinkle the curry over the entire top, mix all the ingredients well.  Lastly, pour in your lime juice, stir, and serve!

Thanks for reading!

-M

Buying locally & Galveston’s Own Farmer’s Market Pt. 1

“Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.” -Daniel Webster

I talked a few weeks ago about how great it is to buy locally. I’m excited to unpack that this week and talk about our awesome local resource: Galveston’s Own Farmer’s Market! If you haven’t ever been to the farmer’s market before, then I’m almost a little jealous of you. It’s like hearing that someone hasn’t heard an incredible band’s most recent single or the season finale of Sherlock Holmes season 2! Let’s be real, we wish we could re-live some of those first time experiences. The farmer’s market in Dallas was a sad one. Yes, they had some fun foods and neat attractions here and there but for the most part you were buying Dole strawberries out of an old truck. Not awesome. However, let me assure you, Galveston does it right! You will not only find great, locally grown, in-season vegetables but so much more. First let’s talk about buying local foods!

Why does buying local matter?

There are quite a few reasons I jumped on the buy-local-food band wagon.

Buying locally can mean less harmful pesticides. I think this topic goes right along with why it’s important to buy organic. Does it really matter? In my last entry I talked a bit about both of these subjects. Yes, it matters!  The non-organic produce that you buy (specifically: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, imported nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach strawberries, sweet bell peppers, kale/collard greens, and summer squash) can be very heavily sprayed with pesticides to prevent bugs and other pests from eating or destroying crops. Ok, so what? What’s a little chemical gonna do? Well, Dr. Sanjay Gupta put it well, “The evidence about the relationship between  pesticides and adverse affects on human health are not clear. There are some studies that suggest they may cause birth defects, for pregnant women, may cause nerve damage, even cancer. But simply by following these rules (the dirty dozen list + washing and/or peeling non organic produce) you can rid your body of about 80% of the pesticides you might be taking in on any given day.” Well, that sounds good to me 🙂 Local, smaller farms are going to be less likely to spray their crops with harmful pesticides. They do not have the demand that a big farm like Dole has, and so they can take the time to find and use alternative methods for protecting their crops from pests in a way that is better for us and better for the environment. Which leads me to my next point.

Buying locally has less of an environmental impact. “We are living in an era of the 1,500-mile-meal, where each ingredient typically travels that distance to get to your plate. Unripe and unready, our food is  picked to travel – eating oil and belching emissions…” – Kate Geagan author of Go Green, Get Lean and registered dietician. Eating locally eliminates the need for this outrageous gas guzzling process.

Buying local foods means fresher, tastier produce! Yes, it’s true. You can think back to an experience where you were on a plane waiting for 45 minutes or an hour just to get off, running on peanuts and gum. Or maybe a time you went on a choir tour with your church group and the air conditioner on the bus stopped working…yeah. Not your freshest moment, right? I’m not exactly a fan of the flavor an apple has when it’s been through the same experience I just described. The first time I ever went to the farmer’s market here in Galveston I purchased some celery and the farmer (yes, I bought straight from the actually farmer. Thug life.) handed me celery with all the roots and dirt still attached and said, “here you go, picked this just before I came.” And how did that celery taste? Dang good, and I don’t even really like celery. It’s not hard to imagine what a tole our food takes when it has to travel such a long way to get to our hands.

Buying locally supports the local food economy and creates community. Maybe it’s because you’re a tad rebellious and you want to do something different, maybe you read an article about Dole’s banana debacle, or about how some other gigantic corporation did something awful for no other reason than saving themselves a little money, money, money. Whatever your reason is, take your dollars and put them in the hands of farmers who care about how harmful they can be and decide to do what’s right. Vote with your money. If you want more locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables then ‘vote’ for those things. Get to know who your local food growers are, find out what they stand for, and support a good cause. I don’t have the luxury of donating money right now. (The thought of affording that makes me laugh, out loud.) But food I must buy; we purchase hundreds of dollars of it each month. I can support what I believe by going to my local farmers market and saying, “I trust your food and your process, thank you, keep up the good work!” I don’t know about you but I am a BIG fan of community. Growing up in Fort Worth I didn’t have much of a sense of community, partly because of the environment I lived in, and partly because I was a self-absorbed teenager. BUT now that I am a wo-man, I love the idea of community and I crave it. I want my son to grow up in a thriving community. I want to see the same faces when I go out. I want to know the couple that grows my son’s lunch and I want to shake hands with the woman who made the goat cheese I’m eating at breakfast. This is where we’ve found our community here, aside from our awesome church, and I love it!

If you live in the G I’ve got some awesome news for you. We have an incredible, growing market here that offers all the goodies I talked about above! Here are some of my favorite parts of Galveston’s Own Farmer’s Market!

First, before we get into all the exciting things they offer, let me give you a little background. The farmer’s market started February of 2011 and was started by 6 people who currently make up the board. A few of these individuals you will see at the market every Sunday! Sid Holliday who makes local honey can be found there selling his product, Pure Beeing. Vince Bruno not only has an awesome name but he also makes the delicious Kombucha. He can be found behind a booth on Sundays selling not only his incredible fermented tea but also offers a nice cool Snobucha, which combines the glory of a snow cone with the incredible flavor of his tea infused with different fruit flavors. So, who’s in charge here? I’m so glad you asked.

Meet Cate Black.

Look how happy she is with her local produce. You could be this happy too!

Look how happy she is with her local produce. You could be this happy too!

See Cate cook.

Cate manages our farmer’s market. She is a part of a board that began back in 2012. They not only ensure that the vendors of our local market are actually local (within 100 mile radius), add value to our market, and boost the food economy, they are also working to make our market a non-profit! Cate, herself, loves food. She loves farmer’s markets and she believes in eating locally. All 6 active members of Galveston’s Own Farmer’s Market have different backgrounds and motives for starting this market, but they all agree on the mission behind this venture, “Galveston’s Own Farmer’s Market brings locally grown produce, prepared foods, and edible farm products to residents of Galveston and the surrounding areas every Sunday morning. We strive to foster a greater sense of community; all while supporting farmers + producers, and connecting individuals with their local food economy.” As my good friend Philip Penley would say, I can get behind that! So what are these products? Here are some of my favs!

My first highlight would be Mood Dog Farms, our market’s most consistent produce provider. We buy from them weekly and enjoy them immensely. This awesome couple, Alex and Casey, started their farm less than a year ago and not only provide for local residents of Galveston each Sunday, but provide also for a small restaurant. Listening to them describe the heat and exhaustion they experience day in and day out in their first Texas summer on their farm was amazing to me. I kept thinking, “I thought being a mom was hard, this is really hard!” Don’t get me wrong, being a mom is hard but I can choose to stay out of the heat and away from the mosquitoes while raising my child to be a productive member of society. So, hats off to these folks!

Farmers hard at work!

Farmers hard at work!

Old McPhail!

Old McPhail!

He's not just any dog. He's Moon Dog Farm's inspiration!

He’s not just any dog. He’s Moon Dog Farm’s inspiration!

Not only are they local but they're good looking too!

Not only are they local but they’re good looking too!

Moon Dog Farms deliver a weekly array of beautiful, safe, delicious produce! We love to buy fresh basil, green onions, okra, and peppers from them!

So much fresh pesto has been made from the goodness in this woman's arms!

So much fresh pesto has been made from the goodness in this woman’s arms!

My next highlight is something I found so unique! I had never heard of Kombucha, before let alone tasted it. As I’ve mentioned before you can find locally made, delicious, and sweet Kombucha made by Vince Bruno every Sunday here at our local market. Not only do they sell different sizes and versions of this tangy tea, but they also offer Snobucha (Kombucha snow cones) for a reasonable price along with free samples if you want to give this tea a taste!

Blueberry Kombucha

Blueberry Kombucha

Hibiscus Ginger/ Blueberry Snobucha.

Hibiscus Ginger/ Blueberry Snobucha.

Everybody's doing it!

Everybody’s doing it!

This next highlight is a favorite in our house. Sinful Bakery brings some of the most delicious, 100% vegan treats I’ve ever had. My husband just drools over their cinnamon rolls while I prefer the apple pie! We’ve tried their strawberry tart, pumpkin cream cheese bread, and their banana bread. All good; ridiculously good.  Check them out!

Vegan cookies. Need I say more?

Vegan cookies. Need I say more?

Delicious vegan banana bread. Who needs animal fat to have a good time? Not this girl!

Delicious vegan banana bread. Who needs animal fat to have a good time? Not this girl!

Toddler approved food!

Toddler approved food!

Finally, I want to highlight Market Street Foods. This incredible woman provides salsas, dips, and treats that are,” So good, you’ll fight for them!” Awesome slogan and so, so true! With the ingredients typed out right on the label you know exactly what you’re getting from her! All natural, vegan friendly, gluten free goodies. Our favorites are her Vegan Queso and her Macaroons (both the plain and the macaroons dipped in chocolate). She is amazing and so are her foods.

Healthy snacks!

Healthy snacks!

There are so many wonderful things at the Farmers Market. Starter plants, eggs, organic meats, goat cheese, crepes, infused olive oils and balsamic vinegar’s. Many delicious food and happy faces! You can check out this awesome local resource every Sunday morning from 9:00am to 12:00pm, 9:00am to 1:00pm starting in October, at 2508 Postoffice here in Galveston. They are located just behind the Antique Warehouse. Eat real food and support your local food economy just a food blocks from home!

Pure Beeing local honey.

Pure Beeing local honey.

Kenz Henz Hatchery and Feeds

Kenz Henz Hatchery and Feeds

Oasis Juice Bar's fresh watermelon juice! So refreshing!

Oasis Juice Bar’s fresh watermelon juice! So refreshing!

Starter plants

Starter plants

Tavola pasta!

Tavola pasta!

Thanks for reading,
-M

How I adopted a plant based kitchen

“If we wish for true health protection, we need to remove the cause. We must stop abusing ourselves with disease causing foods.” -Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

Fresh picked basil from Galveston's Own Farmer's Market

Fresh picked basil from Galveston’s Own Farmer’s Market

I’m so excited to hear how many people have decided to pursue a plant based or vegan diet! By now, you have probably sworn off McDonalds, you’ve thrown away your ice cream, sour cream, and floppy cheese. If you’re anything like me this transition may have not gone as smooth as you hoped so far. It may have even gone something like this:

Cleaning out your refrigerator and pantry is wise. However, what do you do next? You cannot live off of juice alone. You can’t only eat carrots or kale for the rest of your life. What do you eat now that you’ve decided to change the way you eat? I used to leave the grocery store with about half a cow, lots of bleached, packaged, starchy things, a bell pepper, and 8lbs of dairy. Yeah. Needless to say I have made a few changes since we’ve decided to change our diet. If I were to take away all the animal products and processed food from my old shopping list I’d be left with a bell pepper. That’s not going to be very filling or satisfying for my taste buds. It probably won’t be that for you either. You, too, might find yourself in a dirty motel room eating pasta that you cooked in your car with a lighter. I learned a simple formula from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book, Eat to Live, that I think can really help your perspective on food as you learn to shop and eat plant based. That formula is H=N/C. Write it down, put it on a note card, stick on the front of your fridge! Health = Nutrients/Calories! What we are going for in order to feel good and achieve true health, not just weight loss, is to follow a high nutrient diet.

We wanted to expand our palates! So I started with new cook books

My secret weapons!

My secret weapons!

I know, I know! One of them has a dirty word. However, it is an incredible cook book. Now, what I loved about these cook books is they are not full of recipes that try to imitate what you ate before. They are new and fresh and created by people who pack their diets full of nutrient-rich foods that taste great without all the empty calories and animal products. Let me break down a bit why I love each one!

  • While Eat to Live does have some wonderful plant based recipes, it is primarily educational. Education on the American diet as it is, and education on what our diets should be. Fuhrman bases this on what our bodies really need, and how they are affected by all the other substances we put in them. Personally, I would start there. Phenomenal book.
  • Forks Over Knives cookbook features all different types of recipes that are designed with a healthier body in mind. “The Forks over Knives cookbook is not about what you can’t eat, but about what you can.” (If you haven’t checked out the documentary of the same title yet, it’s “watch instantly” on Netflix. It’s also available on Hulu Plus or for purchase on the website.)
  • Clueless may not have been the best movie of all time, but Alicia Silverstone knows that now, and she’s sorry. She’s so sorry, that she wrote an incredible book called The Kind Diet. She shares, not only information about the importance of dramatically reducing the amount of (or cutting out all together) animal products we consume for health reasons, but she also gives a good picture of the damage our consumption does to our world.
  • William-Sonoma: New Flavors for Vegetables did a great job of splitting the recipes into seasons. I love this because it helps us eat the fruits and veggies we love when they are grown and picked at their best! The best color and the best flavor with no need for harmful chemicals to make them ready to eat!
  • Skinny B****, Ultimate Everyday Cookbook may seem like a rough and scary cook book to open, but I will assure you of two things: 1. it was written by a fourty-something year-old white woman who lives in SoCal and 2. it’s full of very non gang-related incredible vegan recipes! Disclaimer: It’s a bit rough around the edges.
  • The next book is called The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Enough said. My in-laws bought me this awesome cookbook, and I must say, I was very happy to know I can eat well and still use my crock pot in the winter time. Warning! Some of these recipes need a little help to be as healthy as they can be, but there are many great ideas to go off of inside!
  • Last, but not least, is Fruits & Veggies A to Z. Now, this is not a plant-based cookbook, it’s a Weight Watchers cookbook actually. However, I did find that it is full of great, workable recipes, and a ton of information about how to choose the best of the best in the produce section. It also highlights how to store your delicious food properly once you get it all home! This has been an incredibly valuable book to us, seeing as how we stored EVERYTHING in the complete wrong way before.
Vegetarian enchiladas made with homemade tomatillo sauce and served on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes.

Vegetarian enchiladas made with homemade tomatillo sauce and served on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes.

Once you’ve scoped out some new recipes and decided what new flavors you’d like to try, it will be time to fill your kitchen back up.

Here are a few tips for buying produce:

  1. Buy local as much as possible! Buying local is your best option for seasonal fruits and vegetables. Buying in season means you’ll be getting the fruits and vegetables at a time when they grow and taste the best. I’ll talk more about buying local in the coming posts!
  2. Buy seasonal. Eating season-appropriate fruits and vegetables is not only important because you are getting truly fresh foods, but it’s more fun! Waiting till fall to get the richest pears. Saving a new recipe for asparagus until it peaks in the spring. It’s exciting to have new flavors and colors coming in and out of your kitchen all year!
  3. Buy Organic. I am aware of how expensive organic food is. I know how difficult it can be to buy bell peppers that cost almost a dollar more than the other pretty shiny ones a few feet away. Two things about this! I read somewhere that, “The true cost of unhealthy food isn’t just the price tag — in fact, the real costs are hidden.” If you do not want to pay more money for your groceries, you will be paying more for medical bills, prescription medications, and lots of Pepto-Bismol! The next resources that I believe will help you when shopping for produce are the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. These are two lists that are made to help you know which fruits and vegetables are highly sprayed with pesticides (and, therefore, should be purchased organic), and which aren’t sprayed as much or have a thicker more protective outer skin (and are OK to purchase non-organic)! You can visit www.ewg.org for information and updates for these lists along with a lot of other great resources for healthy living!

As for your pantry:

Keep it well stocked! The majority of what you eat should be fruits and vegetables and there are a lot of other great foods we can accompany them with. Here are a few tips that helped me stock my pantry well:

  1. As Kim Barnouin would say, “Smart b*tches read labels.” I must say, I don’t usually describe myself with such vulgar language, however in this case, I’ll take it. It is silly to rely on the people who are trying to get your money any way they can to tell you what you should buy and feed your children! Sugar free equals artificial sweeteners, and fat free means there are a lot of added chemicals. If you see an unfamiliar word on the back of that canned soup or package of muffins you’re considering eating for breakfast, look it up! Educate yourself on what you are being given as “food”, then reconsider if the underlying costs are worth it!
  2. Consider what you buy packaged that could possibly be made fresh! We are so used to grabbing canned chicken broth, canned beans, or pasta sauce that somehow doesn’t expire for 40 years! Gross. Some of these things are not only simple to make at home but are far more delicious!
  3. Keep it simple. You don’t have to buy salad dressing (which can contain cheese, milk, and sugar) to make a flavorful salad. Not only does nature offer us a wide variety of natural seasonings, but I’m discovering how incredible combinations of vegetables, seeds, and fruits can add to an otherwise boring dish’s flavor! So, skip the yucky condiments and use simple, real ingredients to flavor your foods!

With all that being said, here are a few of my favorite pantry items!

Dried black beans, black eyed peas, and split peas.

Dried black beans, black eyed peas, and split peas.

Legumes are a good source of fiber, excellent source of protein, naturally low in fat, and rich in antioxidants, among other things. Peas I love, because they have a little bit of a starchy flavor to them. They, too, have a strong fiber and protein content.

  • Black beans can be made into burger patties, we love to add them to soup, or stuff them into a pepper to bake with tomatoes, onions and delicious seasonings. Black beans are also great to stir into quinoa or throw into a salad.
  • Black eyed peas (which are actually legumes) can also be made into a veggie burger patty or cooked into a delicious stew to serve alongside your salad!
  • There are many good recipes for split peas including one everyone has probably tried at least once, split pea soup. My favorite split pea recipe, however, would have to be Curried Split Pea soup. Split peas, curry, veggie broth, onion, and garlic, all cooked up together. Oh my goodness, let’s not even go there right now. Delicious and nutritious.

From top to bottom: Brown basmati rice, green lentils, and quinoa.

  • First, brown basmati! It’s not as super as quinoa; however, if you have a recipe that just needs a little rice, this is a delicious option. Brown basmati has a little bit of a different texture than brown rice and it’s full of natural flavor and beautiful color. You will find many indian (dot, not feather) dishes that include BB, but we use for many other dishes as well! Our brand: Lundberg Organic California Brown Basmati Rice
  • Next up we have lentils. Can I just say, I really enjoy cooking with lentils. I find them to be very simple to cook and very subtle in flavor. I used to hate lentils. I thought they were so plain and gross. I suppose, when you’re used to high fat, salty meals, lentils aren’t going to seem awesome. However, these little guys could easily be described as nutritionally mighty! Because lentils are so rich in fiber, they are great for your digestive system and your heart! You will find that lentils can help with balancing your blood sugar levels which in turn can help with insulin resistance. If you have, or are at risk for diabetes, or maybe you have PCOS like myself, you can understand why this is so important.
  • Then we have Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), which is, by far, one of my favorite discoveries from this past year. How I never knew this existed is beyond me. Quinoa is a complete protein, it has a near-perfect ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and it’s easy to cook! I cannot wait to begin sharing some of the fantastic quinoa recipes we have discovered with you! Our brand: (nothing fancy here) Organic Kroger brand!
Almonds. Also referred to as food diamonds.

Almonds. Also referred to as food diamonds.

Now, as much as I love all three of those things I listed above for you, I also make sure I have some good nuts and seeds in my cupboard at all times.  I really enjoy my salads with a little crunch! So chopping up walnuts or almonds and sprinkling them on top is something I do frequently. However, there are a few other friends I’d like you to get familiar with that also party well with vegetables: Pine Nuts, Sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Clockwise from the top: Pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Here’s what I love about these three. They are delicious raw, they are great for homemade salad dressings, and they can all be baked and seasoned to make scrumptious little treats. Pumpkin seeds are fabulous roasted with garlic, cayane and salt. Sunflower seeds are wonderful coated in shoyu and roasted. Don’t even get me started about pine nuts in vegan pesto or sauteed with spinach. Dang. I love me some seeds and nuts. Keep these guys in your pantry and you can learn how to use these natural flavors and textures to liven up your yummy plant-based meals.

Now, sometimes you just want to have pasta with your meal. Or, like us, you love having stir fry with noodles of some kind. I don’t always have time to boil vegetables together with seasoning to get a delicious natural broth. So here are a few more items that I keep around:

  • Whole grain brown rice noodles. Our brand: Annie Chung’s All Natural Asian Cuisine, Maifun.
  • Whole wheat pasta, any brand will do! Just read that label and make sure you’re getting 100% whole wheat and not some half and half mixture with a tan!
  • Vegetable broth bouillon cubes. Our brand: Edward & Sons Natural Not Chick’n

I hope that this blog post can be a help and resource to those of you who are just beginning to avoid animal products and need some help finding your way around the plant based/vegan world. Stay tuned for my next post! Recipes begin next week!!!

Thanks for reading,

-M

Getting healthy: From the beginning

I have to say, I am so amazed by the response I have received from my friends and family over my recent decision to reboot (juice fast) and adopt a more plant based diet. Since my Reboot began I have received so many calls, texts, and emails about what I’m doing to lose weight. A few people have even suggested I start a blog about eating healthy. I don’t think I know nearly enough to begin an entire blog about rebooting and plant based dieting, but I thought sharing my story and my walk with other people could be encouraging to some. My story, like many others, is a long one.

There are many reasons I am overweight as there are many reasons I have decided to juice fast and adopt a plant-based diet. Understand, that when I say “diet” I mean a consistent way that we eat. Not a get-thin-quick plan. We’ve adopted a new lifestyle, a new way of eating, and the reboot is helping me begin again. I will be blogging primary about recipes but I will be following up this post with a few more post about the awesome health options we have here in Galveston and all I am doing to get well; but first I’d like to share why I decided to make this huge change!

I have been trying to lose weight for many, many years. I have been successful a few times: 20 pounds before I got married, 5 or 10 more before I had Daniel, and about 28 after I had him. Clearly, I’ve never been able to keep it off. When my husband and I decided to try for another baby, months and months began to pass with no luck. I decided it would be best to focus on my health to get my mind off of the time it was taking to conceive. After watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead I decided to do a reboot. After watching Forks Over Knives I decided I needed to reevaluate my diet all together. When I saw Food Inc. I realized I could not raise my son on a diet of primarily animal products and processed food. As much as I believed in what I was doing and after losing 11 lbs. complete exhaustion, depression, and stress got the better of me. I not only gained it all back but I got up to 270lbs. The heaviest I have ever been.

I’ve learned that in weight loss there are many different layers that need to be dealt with. There is much more to weight loss for someone like me then just simply making better decisions. There’s a reason I made bad decisions in the first place, and that all came out in October of 2012. A very close family friend of ours went through a very difficult experience. When I heard the news , I struggled very much to hold on tight, and ride the difficult season out with grace. In fact, I fought through the weeks after trying very hard to motivate myself to be healthy and strong, for myself and my family. But I met all my limitations through this stressful and difficult situation. I did not ask for help. I did not address my issues of eating while stressed or while discouraged. I didn’t talk to other women about how I was struggling because of pride. I fell flat on my face, hard.

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The beginning before I put on an additional 10-15lbs. 

The next few months got worse and worse. I became more depressed than I have ever been in my life. I wouldn’t eat all day then I would binge late at night. I knew this wasn’t healthy, but I didn’t feel I had any other way of coping. I cried most of the day if I wasn’t sleeping. I was constantly exhausted no matter how much rest I got. All the while, my husband and I continued to try for another child, convinced that this was the source of my depression. Finally by April things had gotten so bad Philip was spending his days watching Daniel and trying hard to keep up with school while I slept all day and hid in my bed. I confessed to him that I was scared and I felt extremely hopeless and that I felt I had lost control of everything in my life and I needed his help.

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I made a doctor’s appointment the very next day. I cried on the phone trying to explain to the woman that I was having trouble getting pregnant. I felt like failing each month to get pregnant was taking huge chunks of who I was as a woman and a mother away each time I saw the negative test. We cried to friends, confessed our struggles to our small group, but the darkest of all this was happening at home. It was tearing us apart. When I got into the doctor’s office, I was quite ashamed to say the words, “I’m depressed.” I felt so dramatic. I kept thinking that no one would believe me and I would be told essentially to suck it up. In a way, I think I needed someone else to say, “Yes, Martha, something isn’t right here and it’s not your fault.” I was so tired of feeling heavy with guilt: Guilt about not being able to conceive, guilt over my weight, guilt that I wasn’t performing my duties as a wife or a mom, guilt that I wasn’t’ spending time with my friends or talking to anyone, including my family. There were other health issues going on at the time that I gave very little attention to because I was consumed with guilt over my issues conceiving. I began to explain what was going on with me and the resident I saw asked a series of questions and gave usan idea of what she thought was wrong. But I was overwhelmed and scared, so I clung to the hope that they would test my samples and tell me I was pregnant and it was all over. That isn’t what happened.

When I called the nurse to find out what my results were, she informed me that a long with my depression I had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism. This news did something very interesting to me. PCOS and hypothyroidism are both linked to obesity and infertility. The reason I had been desperately wanting for why I was so overweight and why I couldn’t conceive was given to me. So, I could either sit back and feel justified in my bitterness towards our circumstances or I could get healthy, get in shape, and change what little I was in control of. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I was still depressed, I still wanted to have another child more than I even wanted to be thin or healthy. The information just sort of sat there for a while.

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I was 270 here and you can see how bad the acne (caused by the PCOS) had gotten.

My doctor prescribed me three different medications. When I began taking them I imagined I would feel better in days. However, it took weeks for the Zoloft to kick in, and once it did, I wasn’t as depressed as I had been, but I didn’t feel myself. I also didn’t feel any more energized than I had before. I was incredibly anxious. At one point I begged Philip to take me to the store because I didn’t want to drive and once in the produce section I just began to cry. I felt like I couldn’t’ handle being out in the open and I felt vulnerable from head to toe. I talked with my mom, who has struggled over the years with depression, and she advised me to go for walks and push myself a little to get out even if it’s hard. I think had anyone else told me this I would have been angry at them for not understanding just how helpless I felt walking out the door, but I knew my mother understood so I trusted her.

That first walk was painful but it changed everything. I put my head phones on and played some praise music. I walked for over an hour. My son was so happy and seemed to have light back in his eyes after all those months of watching his momma change. It brought tears to my eyes to see him smile at ME again. When I got home and didn’t feel any better I thought to myself, “Well at least I didn’t sit inside all day and Daniel loved getting out.” A few days later I realized something. If it hurts to lay on the couch, and it hurts to lay in bed, and it hurts to go for a walk, why don’t I choose to make that my daily goal? I feel no better staying at home than I do getting myself and my son out in the fresh air, so why not just get out and have that small victory for the day? Small victories have become a very big part of my life. For someone as black and white as I can be at times (no pun intended), I struggled to do things half way. In this situation though, I knew that, for me, that little 30 minute walk was huge. It was all I could do. So in my mind, I really was giving it my all. My all just wasn’t much; but that was ok.

Mother’s day rolled around and Philip expressed to my father in law, a D.O., that I was struggling and Papa informed him that it would take a few months for my other medications to kick in. At first this totally crushed my spirit. How in the world was I going to make it another week? The days were so long and so difficult. I realized that the only thing I could do was try and lose weight. I knew already that losing 5-10% of my total body weight (a whopping 270lbs as of April 17) would increase my chances of getting pregnant. So, with a wonderful friend by my side I decide to attempt my second reboot. I kept it a secret at the time from most everyone to avoid negative and discouraging comments, but I had made a commitment to myself and my family to reboot for 60 days! I ended up completing about ¾ of the 60 day reboot. This was ok because it kicked started my weight loss and helped me change my eating habits.

After losing a little bit of weight I had a conversation with a woman who I consider to be my spiritual momma. I just love her to death. She had two adopted children who she loved like you wouldn’t believe. I had grown up with her daughter so I was aware of the fact that she had struggled through infertility but I never really knew any of the details other than the fact that she had ended up adopting her kids. One day she called me on the phone to hear all about these changes I was making. She was encouraging me and asking me all sorts of questions. When it got to the point where I told her why we were having trouble getting pregnant and why it was so essential to lose weight she got very quiet and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

It then dawned on me that I never knew why she struggled with infertility and sure enough she explained that she too had been diagnosed with PCOS and hypothyroidism. Once again I felt overwhelmingly conflicted. Do I give up and say that I have no chance? Do I allow myself to grow angry and bitter over the fact that I was “doomed” to ever have more natural children? Then she said, “God is in control of what happens in your life and he has a plan for you. You need to get healthy for you and for the family that you do have.” I think that was the moment that I decided that what God had already allowed me was enough and I needed to take better care of all of it. Regardless of what may or may not come to us in the future. I have one beautiful, brilliant little boy and an incredible husband. I want to get healthy for myself and for them.

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20lbs down and the acne (caused by the PCOS) has cleared up a bit!

So, this is why I’ve decided to make such a big changes. I’m excited about sharing what I’ve learned and what I’m learning along the way but I’m mostly excited to share all the delicious, healthy recipes we’ve fallen in love with since we’ve changed out diet! Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading,

-M