Archive for July, 2010

Cholesterol Update! (Plus Vegan chili!)

I know I’ve mentioned before how much I love where I work (I mean, I have a garden here!) but another thing I love is the free on-site health center! So I made an appointment to get my cholesterol checked, and they give you the results in 5 minutes! It’s great!

However, I was pretty disappointed… I know it’s only been 2 months since I went vegan, but I was really hoping for at least a SMALL change in my number! Weirdly enough, my overall cholesterol was EXACTLY What it was last time: 277.  (Anything >200 is bad.) I think the nurse knew I was disappointed, and she told me it would probably take more than a couple of months to see much of a change, but still! I was hoping for a little something!

The good news is, I raised my HDL and lowered my LDL! My HDL went from 39 to 52 and my LDL went from 225 to 216. I realize these aren’t hugely significant changes, but it made me feel a LITTLE better knowing that some things were moving in the right direction. They also referred me to a dietitian, and I’m looking forward to that. I realize that medications are here to help, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’d just be “taking the easy way out.” (Please don’t think that I’m saying that people who take medication are taking the easy way out. That is absolutely not what I mean!) I just feel like I’m willing and able to do all I can, and so I want to do what I can without medication!

Even if the vegan diet isn’t lowering my cholesterol as much as I’d like, I do feel better. My skin has cleared up (something I’d been struggling with for a long time.) and I feel like I have more energy. (Not to mention I’m more… regular 🙂 haha). So even if I don’t stick with the vegan thing forever, I think I’d still follow a mostly vegan diet. Anyways, I said I would give it six months, so I’m going to stick with it for another four, and see what happens!


On to food! So last night I had a potluck with some friends from work. I decided I’d make Vegan Chili so I knew there would be at least one thing at the potluck that I could eat! 😀 So here is my super simple Vegan Chili Recipe!

Vegan Chili Recipe

(makes about 10 cups)

  • 1 large can of tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can sweet corn
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • Minced Onions
  • Olive Oil

First, I stewed the tomatoes in some olive oil.

Then I added the corn, beans, and chickpeas

Then added spices to taste… I like mine super spicy!

Then I let it cook on the stove for about 45 minutes. It turned out pretty good! (It’s always a bit of a gamble, because I never measure out the spices. This one turned out quite well!!!) There were some leftovers, so that’s what I’m having for lunch today 🙂 This is probably the easiest vegan/vegetarian recipe ever, and it’s always a hit, even with meat eaters!

Does anyone have any variations on vegetarian chili?? Any favorite spices or flavors? I’m always looking for new ideas!


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I Crave What I Crave!

It’s been an interesting couple of days. But I’d rather not get personal on this blog so… let’s just move on to food reviews! Cool? Cool. I’m planning on getting my cholesterol checked tomorrow, so check back soon! Hopefully it’s a good update!

I recently attended the Richmond Vegetarian Festival, which was a lot of fun (Richmond has festivals for everything, seriously) and they had some great giveaways! Nature’s Path had some free samples, and I finally got around to trying their Pumpkin N Spice granola bar!

It was a very sticky texture, sort of like a warm rice krispee treat. It had a nutty crunch to it, thanks to the pumpkin seeds, but it was definitely a chewy bar, not  a crunchy one. It definitely had some pumpkin spice flavor to it, but it wasn’t overpowering. Overall, I liked the bar, but I wouldn’t say it was the best bar I’d never had. I’d give it a 7 out of 10. Decent nutritional stats (140 calories, 2g fiber, 3g protein)  but I wouldn’t mind if it had a little more protein.

I’ve been eating a lot of soup recently (I know, it doesn’t make sense, craving soup in 100+ degree weather) but hey, I crave what I crave! Yesterday I had some Dr. McDougall’s Lentil Soup.

I LOVE this soup. I’d give it a 10 out of 1o! Not only is it tasty, but it’s filling, thanks to the 16g of fiber and 14g of protein per 230 calorie box! (It says a serving is 1/2 of this, but honestly, who eats half a can of soup?) Is anyone else craving soup despite the hot temperatures? Sometimes my food cravings don’t make sense, but who cares! 🙂 I also tried Dr. McDougall’s Ramen Noodle Soup but I wasn’t falling in love. It was too salty, and it wasn’t very filling. The nutritionals weren’t all that great, so I definitely wouldn’t pick this soup again. (Not where there are so many other great soup options!)

Any good soup recommendations out there, either recipes or prepackaged? I like my soup to be relatively low in calories, but still pack a punch of fiber an protein. Any suggestions?

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Veggies & Squash Fries

Hello bloggers!

So I started me vegan journey around the end of May, meaning it’s been about two months. I think I’m going to get my cholesterol checked soon, so see how my numbers are doing. I’m really hoping they’re down, but I know it’s only been 2 months, so I probably should expect to see too much of a change. I’m not sure how much longer I can convince my doctor to let me do this though, before he insists I get back on Zocor.

I’ve been eating some tasty things recently, but I’ve been terrible about taking pictures 😦 I had delicious veggie burger from local restaurant, Joe’s Inn yesterday. Bulger, lentils, celery, carrots and cashews. Delicious! (Even though it was just kind of an ugly gray color, it tasted delicious!) I never thought about putting cashews in a veggie burger! It was very filling, so I kept dinner light yesterday:

Veggies and hummus are such a wonderful combo on a hot day. I tried Atheno’s Organic Garlic Hummus. I normally get the Roasted Red Pepper kind, but I thought I’d try something new. I really like Sabre hummus too, but the nutritional info isn’t quite as good. (Since I like to eat quite a bit of hummus, I have to keep myself in check on that!) What’s your favorite type of hummus? Any favorite brands or recipes? I like making my own hummus, but I was feeling lazy yesterday 🙂

My garden has been producing quite a bit of vegetables! Some of these tomatoes look a little sketchy, but let me tell you, they taste delicious! I’ve been topping salads and sandwiches with fresh tomatoes, and it’s quite good!

I also walked to the farmers market down the street yesterday and got some delicious butternut squash. I made Butternut Squash Fries, one of the easiest, all time favorite recipes:

B-Nut Squash Fries: (photo courtesy of

-1 Small butternut squash
-Olive oil spray
-Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice the butternut squash. Spray a cooling rack with olive oil and spread the slices out on the rack. (Cooking them on a cooling rack allows the squash to cook both sides at once, yielding crispier results). Top with sea salt and bake for 30-40 minutes. So simple, so delicious!  Trust me, you won’t be able to stop eating these! I usually eat them with some organic ketchup 🙂



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Silver Linings

It’s been a rough couple of days. Lots of random things going on (car being towed twice, credit card # being stolen, etc.) but there was a positive thing that happened… I won the NuNatural’s Giveaway from Fab and Delicious Food!!!! I was pretty excited. I can’t wait to try using it in recipes!

My eats haven’t been all that exciting lately. Lots of fresh veggies and such. But this morning’s breakfast was special than normal, because it’s my entry in the Magic Bullet Contest from Chocolate Covered Katie‘s blog!

This was 1 frozen banana, 1/2 scoop of chocolate protein powder, 2 tbsp of Silk Almond Milk, & a sprinkle of Galaxy Granola!! I don’t really like oatmeal, so Katie, this was my version of a breakfast sundae!! Yum!

So I’ve talked a lot about food, but not so much about working out. I really need to get into a regular routine. I’ m a little sporadic… I’ve been trying to run more, but I’m still at a bit of a loss when it comes to weight lifting. I just signed up to get a personal trainer at work, so I’m looking forward to those sessions! And today, I did some P90x but I tend to get bored after 20 minutes. I like group fitness classes, so maybe I’ll take more of those at work… hmm

Still, nothing gets me motivated for a workout like a good playlist! Does anyone have good workout playlist suggestions?

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Mocha Muffins & Banana Cookies!

I saw this delicious Mocha Muffin recipe on Get Healthy With Heather‘s blog and they looked amazing, so I knew I’d have to make them asap! I just happened to have all of the ingredients, except for cornstarch, so I substituted that with some extra flour. I wasn’t sure if it would work, so I just made a half batch, and turned them into mini muffins! Here they are just out of the oven 🙂

It was SO hard to let them cool!!! Once I tried one, I had to refrain myself from diving into the whole pan. These things are AMAZING!!!!! When I first tasted the batter, I wasn’t convinced, but once these babies came out of the oven, they were incredible. Seriously, get up right now and go make these!!! (Now I wish I’d made the whole recipe instead of just half!!!)

I also recently made some banana peanut butter oatmeal cookies. (The title alone is a mouthful!) They had such good nutritional stats that I thought they might make a good breakfast cookie, or a snack on the run!

They came out alright. They weren’t very sweet (I have quite a sweet tooth) and they were a little bland for my tastes. They would make a good healthy snack, but I wouldn’t reach for them as dessert. They were a simple vegan recipe though! If you like bananas and oatmeal, it would probably be a good recipe for you to try! I couldn’t really taste the peanut butter (I added some chocolate chips in the top row, as you can see). If anyone has suggestions for how to spice this recipe up a bit, I think it could definitely be worked into a stellar cookie!

For dinner, I felt like I wanted some veggies, so I had a lovely assortment of steamed veggies. (Yellow squash, asparagus, onions, carrots, peppers, and zucchini). I added some black pepper, crushed red pepper, and salt. That was it! It was quite delicious.

I also recently discovered a cereal I’m in love with! It’s called Hi-Lo Cereal. check out these stats!

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup (30 g)
  • Servings per Container: About 11
  • Calories 90
  • Calories from Fat 10
  • Total Fat 1g
  • Saturated Fat 0g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 95mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 13g
  • Dietary Fiber 6g
  • Sugars 3g
  • Protein 12g

Amazing!! And the stuff tastes great! I’ve been eating it with almond milk & a packet of stevia. It’s a good way to start my day off with some protein. Yum! I haven’t tried any of the other flavors, but the strawberry one is pretty good! I’m always on the hunt for some good cereals 🙂

Does anyone have a cereal with better stats than the one above?? If so,  let me know!

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Food for Thought

Thank you to Simply Life for recommending the documentary “Killer at Large“. It was quite an interesting movie. I think its good to look at obesity, and what an impact it has on our society. Sometimes I get so caught up in food, that I forget the effect it has on so many people. Sometimes it feels like I live in a whole different world than most of society. I’ve never had a Big Mac, I don’t remember the last time I had a Coke, and I love exercising! I tend to think of food struggles as trying to restrain myself from eating a whole jar of almond butter 😉 Anyways, I would recommend watching that movie! I rented it on itunes for only $2.99! 🙂

So I’m a little slow to post these pictures, but my best friend ever, Alexa Marie, took a trip from Ohio to come visit me in Richmond! We went to Carytown Burger and Fries for lunch, with my brother and his wife. (I checked before we went to make sure they had vegan options! And they had a delicious black bean burger!)

Alexa is an amazing photographer, so I asked her to snap some pics for my blog 🙂

My delicious veggie burger!

My brother, eating his chili cheese fries… we are so different 🙂

We also decided to make some banana soft serve (I had been telling her how amazing it was) and then we made some Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (vegan of course!)

Mixing up the oatmeal!

Smashing it into the pan

Adding a touch of maple syrup to our banana soft serve 🙂

We had our banana soft serve on top of some crushed graham crackers with a dollop of Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter. This combination was divine!!! You must try it 🙂

Does anyone have any other deliciously simple dessert recipes? This banana soft serve has become one of my favorites!

Thank you to all of the book and movie suggestions! I have a lot more watching/reading left to do!! 🙂


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Saturday’s Ramblings

I was going to come up with a clever title for this post, but none of it really goes together, so I thought, forget it! I’ll just say what’s on my mind!

First of all, I have to confess, I LOVE tortilla chips. Love. I hardly ever buy them, because I can’t trust myself with a huge bag just sitting in the kitchen. I know it’s only a matter of days before the bag is empty, and I wonder how I ate them so fast… This got me wondering, how come tortilla chips don’t come in single serving bags? (And no, Doritos don’t count.) You can get pretty much everything else in single servings bags. Cookies, potato chips, pretzels, etc. But today, as I was strolling down the snack aisle at Whole Foods, I came across Garden of Eatin’ Popped Tortilla Chips! If you haven’t tried Popchips, I must say, they’re pretty good! In general, I’m not a huge potato chip fan, but these are pretty good, and they’re not too bad nutritionally. (They’re “popped” not fried!) So I was intrigued at this new tortilla chip. And better yet, a whole bag is only 3 servings! Perfect!

These guys are delicious! They’re crunchy but light, and they don’t have that greasy fried taste.  They’re great dipped in salsa, (I picked up some Trader Joe’s Chipotle Salsa) or on their own. They are a tad salty (ok, more than a tad, but I tend to like salty chips. These are just, very very salty) but it’s not overpowering. I’d recommend these chips for sure! (And even if you ate half the bag at once, it would still be less than 200 calories! And they’ve got some fiber in them as well!)


Has anyone watched Food Inc? I watched it a few months ago and thought it was incredibly interesting. Now I’m watching “The Future of Food” (which is available to watch on Hulu for free!) This one is focused more on the agriculture industry, but it’s still kind of interesting. I also just finished reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, and now I’m reading a book called Food Politics. In Defense of Food was a much easier read… Food Politics is much longer, and much more… technical, but I’m trying to finish it, because I think the message is interesting. It’s focused a lot of food marketing, and how the government plays a role in everything. I’m not sure I’d recommend it, but I would definitely recommend In Defense of Food. Do you guys have any other nutrition/food related books or documentaries you like? I’m always up for suggestions!

One last thing, I recently updated my Blogroll page, so be sure to check it out. There are some really great bloggers on there!

Hope you’re all enjoying the weekend!


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Tempeh Triumph!!

Last night I was in the mood for some protein, and I’d been wanting to try tempeh (all of the recipes you guys suggested sounded so good!) and I found this one online, from Savvy Vegetarian which sounded simple enough. So I went to the store and picked up a package of Three Grain Tempeh:

I halved the recipe, since it served 4, and I just wanted some for dinner, and some to take for lunch the next day. This was actually super easy to make, and it only took about 20 minutes start to finish. While the tempeh was baking, I made some BBQ sauce (I’d always wanted to make some from scratch!) and I just so happened to have every ingredient the recipe called for, which is so rare! After making the sauce, I covered the tempeh in it, and baked it a few more minutes, then threw it on a FlatOut Flatbread with some lettuce and onions (I should have added a tomato for color!) and voila!

This meal was delicious! I know it doesn’t LOOK all that pretty (blocks of tempeh aren’t exactly cute…) but trust me, this thing was tasty! Also, it was only about 400 calories, 17g of fiber, and 29g of protein! It was a filling dinner for sure! (And today I’m going to have the leftovers at lunch 🙂 )

My garden is looking better! It’s hard to tell from this picture, but it’s growing quite nicely! I’ve gotten to pick and eat a few tomatoes 🙂

Here is a little red pepper, just starting to grow!

I love peppers, so I can’t wait for these guys to grow!

Does anyone have good recipes using tomatoes? I know Simply Life just posted a delicious looking marinara recipe! I have a feeling I’m going to have an abundance of tomatoes pretty soon, and I’m going to need some recipe ideas!

On a completely random non-food-related note, here was a picture I took in my parking lot yesterday, which just made me laugh!

Mr. Parking-Lot-Number-Painter… you might want to re-do this one…

Happy Friday, everyone!


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Trying for a Green Thumb!

I love my job, partly because the place I work is so great! They have a community garden, so I signed up for a plot. I’ve never had a garden before, and I really don’t know what I’m doing, but a couple of my friends have plots, so they’ve been helping me. Things started off well! I planted tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash and green peppers. Here was the garden about a month ago:

What I didn’t realize is, these plants go crazy when they aren’t tamed! My goodness! Apparently caging tomato plants is rather important…Mine have grown outward instead of upward… *sigh* My evening will begin with some gardening, and hopefully getting this garden back on track!

Anyways, on to food. Thank you to Lauren @ Clean Eats in the Dirty South for telling me that O’Soy Yogurt is NOT vegan!!! (Thank you Lauren!!) I’m so disappointed! If I wanted milk in my yogurt, I’d just buy regular yogurt!!! Man, this vegan thing is harder than I thought! So now I’m on the hunt for some good vegan yogurt. Any suggestions? That was the sad part of my day, for sure.

The other sad part of the day was when kindly informed me that I’d spent over $400 on groceries in the last month… oops. Anyways, these things happen.

Food review time! I just tried the Newleaf Java BBQ Tempeh frozen dinner.

The picture looked good, but there is nothing more disappointing than a frozen meal that doesn’t look anything like the picture in the box. So here is how things really looked!

Not bad!! I’d never had tempeh before (um, how do you pronounce it??) The flavor this was interesting, in a good way. It excited my taste buds for sure! The beans were tender, and not soggy, and it made me want to try cooking my own tempeh. Anyone have some good (easy-beginner) tempeh recipes? I’m all ears!

Another thing that made my day brighter:

Peanut Butter Puffins!! These little babies cheered up my morning! (You know, since I couldn’t have my non-vegan soy yogurt! Argh!) These will take care of late night pb cravings for sure! 🙂

I’m a cereal junkie, so I try not to buy it too often (seriously, I can make a box of cereal disappear in a matter of days. Not good!) What are some of your favorite cereals?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, recipes & ideas!


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Falafel Fail… Great Granola!

So last night, I had a little extra time on my hands, and I thought I’d try out a new recipe. I learned a few lessons along the way, but we’ll get there in a minute. A friend at work gave me the Skinny Bitch in the Kitch cookbook. I have mixed feelings about this cookbook… I mean, I like that it’s vegan, but I don’ t know how I feel about the stance of the book. Anyways, this isn’t a cookbook review…

I wanted to try something new and it just so happened that I had all the ingredients to make falafel! So I thought, why not? (Plus, I’d been dying to find a reason to use my Bob Mill’s Garbanzo Bean Flour, because yes, I buy things with no purpose in mind.) So I tried to follow the recipe pretty closely. Here are the main ingredients sitting in the food processor…

I blended it up, shaped it into balls, and baked it up! Here was the finished product:

They turned out… ok. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t anything I would crave. I think it might have helped if I had actually HAD falafel before. So Lesson #1: Figure out your expectations. I had no idea what I thought this would taste like, so I didn’t know if it was a success or a flop. Since I wasn’t thrilled, I’m saying it was a flop. Lesson #2: Don’t cut corners. There was a lemon tahini sauce that went with this but I got kind of tired half way through the recipe and thought, well, I’ll see how the falafel tastes, and if it’s good, I’ll make the sauce… Needless to say, I didn’t make the sauce.

*sigh* On a positive note…

I kicked off my Monday morning with some O’Soy Vanilla Yogurt, frozen blueberries, & some Vanilla Almond Galaxy Granola!! Thank you to Healthy Helper & Clean Teen Kelsey for the great recommendation! It’s delicious, and the nutritionals aren’t bad at all! I loved that it had whole almonds in it. It was crunchy and just the right amount of sweetness! Yum!

I started my morning off with this bowl, some coffee (with Truvia and Silk Almond Milk) &  a handful of Peanut Butter Puffins. After seeing the Review on Petit Foodie I wanted to try them, and let me tell you, I was NOT disappointed! These babies are packed with peanut butter-y flavor! They were almost TOO sweet for breakfast. (Almost… but not quite. 🙂 )  Go grab a box of these! I’m thinking these would be great crushed over some chocolate coconut milk ice cream… hmm…

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