Lentil Bolognese!

Picture this…

A stormy Friday afternoon…you’re drenched in sweat from a hard run, and make your final dash to the liquor store to pick up a bottle o’ red for a fabulous night in…then you’re stuck in traffic due to a downpour and arrive home HANGRY as hell.

I’d say that calls for some pasta.

I must admit, I am not much of a pasta person and I don’t really enjoy Italian food all that much, aside from the random cravings like the aforementioned one.

I’m a rice girl through and through, and would take a giant bowl of rice and veggies over pasta and sauce any day. But, on an occasion where all you want to do is be cozy, drink wine, and have a huge piece of crusty bread involved in your meal, there’s no denying that the only cure is pasta.

Hence, this lentil bolognese.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 container of mushrooms, diced (any kind will do, but I used baby bellas)
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups veggie stock
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and zucchini, and cook until softened, around 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook 5 minutes more. Once the veggies are softened, add the lentils and toss to coat with vegetables. Next, add veggie stock and both cans of tomatoes, and bring to a boil.

Once the mixture is boiling, simmer over medium heat until lentils are mostly done, but have a little bit. Add the wine, rosemary, and seasonings, and simmer for about 15 minutes more.

Adjust seasonings to taste, add to pasta, and top with fresh basil. Best served with a giant slab of crusty bread with balsamic, tomatoes, and olive oil.

This is a perfect rainy day meal that has the body, texture, and flavor of a “meat and potatoes” type of meal. Plus, it’s pretty damn easy and tastes even better the next day!

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Self-Care Favorites/My Morning Routine

Whatta month it’s been so far. Fo’ real, it’s been a whirlwind of a spring and I’m not just saying that in a “let’s make small talk at the water cooler” sorta way, I mean it.

I’ve been training like crazy for my upcoming half-marathon, just celebrated my 23rd birthday with the perfect weekend back in my hometown, and it’s our busy season at work.

Needless to say, I’m falling asleep while my boyfriend plays computer basketball by 9 pm most nights, and barely have a minute to myself before I hit the pillow.

Even though I’ve been in a tizzy and stretched thin for the past few weeks, I’ve made a commitment to really take the time to take care of myself and it’s been paying off big time.

My skin looks better than it has in years, my skin is softer than when I was a baby (I bet), my teeth are finally whitening up, and I’m basically on an energy high throughout the entire day…that is until I wear myself out and collapse right when the sun goes down.

Here’s a look at what I’ve been doing and how diligently carving out time for a genuine morning routine has paid off.

MY MORNING ROUTINE:

  • Swish 1 tbsp. extra virgin, cold pressed, unrefined coconut oil for 20 minutes

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  • Dry Brush

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  • After a shower, I exfoliate then cleanse my face using my spin brush and Face Naturals cleanser. I then use Rose Water as a toner in the morning, and moisturize with Face Naturals moisturizer at night. Every few days I apply a dead sea mud mask I got as a sample gift from Face Naturals.

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  • Before breakfast, I drink 1 liter of lemon water

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  • Then I eat 1 tbsp. of Blackstrap Molasses and chug it down with my lemon water to help absorb the iron better

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  • Finally, after breakfast, I brush with my new electric toothbrush!

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I’m not a “big shot” blogger or anything, so none of these companies gave me free stuff, I’ve just finally found a self-care routine and products that have made a HUGE difference in my life and well being!

I cannot praise the Spin for Perfect Skin brush enough! I did use a coupon code from a youtuber I found, so it only cost me $30, but unfortunately it runs at around $90. I will say that after using it for around two months now, I feel it’s well worth it.

I never really gave exfoliation enough credit, but after dry brushing with my natural bristle brush and using my face brush, I can confidently say it’s the single most important part of skin care and I’m grateful I’ve learned to embrace it!

As for the cleanser, moisturizer, and rose water toner, I also HIGHLY recommend them. Face Naturals is where I purchased the cleanser and moisturizer, and the toner at Luminance Skin Care.

If any of you struggle with dental issues, yellowish teeth, or just bad breath, get on the oil pulling train…seriously. It maybe gross at first, but I’m so used to it now that it’s soothing to me! I just take a spoonful and jump in the shower, and by the time I’m out and lotioned up, it’s time to spit that shit out! Nothing has helped whiten my teeth before I committed to oil pulling. Just this one simple change in my routine has helped my immensely and I’m becoming more and more proud of my smile every day!

As for the electric tooth brush, I just got it for my birthday, as recommended by my dentist, so I’m not sure how much more effective it is, but I’m trying to really take care of my pearly whites and I’m hoping this will help my along my quest to never having another cavity as long as I live!

I’ve already sung my praises about lemon water, blackstrap molasses, and dry brushing, so I’ll just leave you with this little bit of advice: GET YOUR ASS ON A MORNING ROUTINE AND STICK TO IT! It may take more time out of your morning, but you can always get up earlier and reap the benefits all day long, I swear! My morning routine always leaves me energized, fresh, and ready for the day, not to mention I feel more beautiful and confident than ever just by simply taking better care of ME.

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May I present to you….The World’s Best Buddah Bowl

I have an issue.

I want ALL the food when I have a meal.

I don’t just have broccoli, I have broccoli and eggplant and peppers and spinach and kale.

I don’t just have oatmeal with banana, I have oatmeal with banana and blueberries and strawberries and dates and every kind of crunchy topping imaginable.

With this kind of wild imagination and simultaneous desires, it’s no wonder why I’m a huge fan of buddah bowls. It’s basically an excuse to throw everything I love in one bowl and douse it all in a dressing of some kind. And don’t even get me started about the toppings…oh the toppings.

I’ve made asian style, mediterannean style, and mexican style, but this latest asian version is honestly the best concoction I have ever spontaneously thrown together.

I know the recipe may seem involved and there are many steps to creating the bowl, but it’s worth it, and most things can be substituted with whatever you may have on hand!

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INGREDIENTS:

For the Tempeh:

  • 1 package organic tempeh, sliced into strips
  • 1 tbps. hoison sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha

Combine all ingredients in large bowl, and add tempeh, making sure the strips are coated completely. Let the flavors make love for at last 15 minutes while you prep the other parts of the bowl.

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. sweet chili sauce, if you have it on hand
  • 1 thumb grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Whisk ingredients together and set aside to pour over top of entire bowl.

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1/2 package rice noodles, cooked according to instructions
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced into medallions
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into medallions
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked in microwave or oven beforehand.

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Bake eggplant, zucchini, and broccoli on a greased or lined cookie sheet for about 20 minutes, flipping every 7 minutes or so. While veggies bake, cook rice noodles and sweet potatoes.

Once the veggies have been baking for about 10 minutes, put tempeh in a baking dish and bake until hot and crispy, about 10 minutes.

Once everything is ready, assemble bowl! Put noodles on bottom, followed by tempeh, sweet potato, veggies, and dressing!

Top with whatever you like, but here is the (DELICIOUS) combo I used.

-Kimchi

-A sheet or two of nori seaweed

-Scallions

-Sesame Seeds

-Sriracha

-Fresh Parsley and Cilantro

This shit is gold, you guys. I promise if you give it a try, you will crave this exact bowl fo eva eva.

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Happy 1 Year Veganversary to me!

Now, I’m not 100% sure of the exact date of when I went to bed an omnivore and woke up a vegan, but I DO know it was a just a few days after my graduation and a few weeks before my birthday, so since graduation weekend was last weekend for this year and my birthday is right at the start of June, I have dubbed today, May 21st, 2015, my 1 year veganversary!

What began as reading a few articles here and there on my never ending quest to make my life as healthy as possible, has led to a full-blown wake up call, a paradigm shift, and has led me down the path towards a life of freedom, compassion, and abundance.

It all began after my boyfriend and I decided to finally sit down and come face to face with what we were contributing to by watching Earthlings.

That was it for me….I literally went vegan overnight.

Now, I know that way is not for everyone, but that is just the kind of person I am. I live my life with an “all or nothing” attitude, and while that sometimes gets me into trouble and can cause me pain, it also reaps benefits that completely outweigh “slow and steady” or “sleeping on it” thinking for me.

I went to bed with a stomach in knots from my daily yogurt bowl, a mind in peril from an all-consuming body image battle, and a heart feeling hopeless as to how I could live a life free from my shitty relationship with food and my body.

I woke up a new fucking woman. I made oatmeal, threw out my yogurt and frozen chicken, and have never looked back.

Although I’ve experienced isolation, disdain, and feelings of hopelessness from the knowledge of how dark the world truly is, becoming a vegan is hands down the single best decision I have ever made. Here are just a few reasons why.

  • INCREASED ENERGY ALL DAY LONG: Anyone who asks you where you get your motherfucking protein from can stfu as far as I’m concerned. Every single piece of food has protein and most Americans gorge themselves on too much! I know for a fact the protein myth is bullshit because my life is filled with nutrients, bursting with vibrancy, and chock full of carbs and ya know what? I have more energy than EVER! A vegan diet, when done right, gives you the plant-powered strength most of us are in desperate need of and can completely transform the sluggish, sedentary lifestyle that usually comes with the standard American diet.
  • I DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO AN INDUSTRY BASED ON MURDER, ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION, AND POOR HEALTH: Every single time I put my fork to my face, I am taking a political stance and condemning the powers that be. Simply by rejecting what has been brainwashed into us and forced into our lives through merciless advertising and cultural “traditions,” I truly am making a difference and separating myself from supporting pain, torture, and the destruction of our planet, which all stem directly from animal agriculture.
  • INCREASED PHYSICAL FITNESS: If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am an exercise junkie and a running-obsessed health nut. Of course one of my biggest fears when turning to veganism was that I wouldn’t be able to sustain my marathon training and daily dose of endorphins. On the contrary, eating a plant-based diet has made my athletic ability sky rocket! The difference between my previous runs while training for a half-marathon versus my training today are unbelievable. I am smashing times I never thought possible with enthusiasm and less effort than ever before!
  • I AM MORE AT PEACE WITH MY BODY THAN EVER BEFORE: My entire life has been plagued by feelings of inadequacy, hatred for the body I call my own, and a tumultuous relationship with the food on my plate. Even though it’s been four years since I officially began recovering from my eating disorder, and even though I have shed pounds, sculpted a physique I bust my ass for, and completely transformed the way I eat, I still have days where I am simply beside myself with utter despair, feeling as though I will never be good enough for my cruel expectations of what I should look like. When I began “eating clean” I did feel better, more in control, and my body thanked me for it. But, I was eating the portions of a child, obsessively counting calories, experiencing stomach pains nearly every day, and my skin was simply in shambles. Once I became a vegan, my skin drastically improved, my stomach stopped giving me trouble thanks to cutting out dairy, and I now eat in ABUNDANCE. I pile my plate at every meal, knowing that the foods I’m eating are low in caloric density, but high in vital nutrients that will heal and benefit my body.

And ya know what? I look and feel absolutely incredible. I have made huge strides with my body image and irrational fear of gaining weight, and have found a new purpose for my life: help other living beings, use my writing as a vehicle for it, and let others know just how incredible this lifestyle is for animals, humans, and Earth.

Thank you all for coming along with me on my journey and reading my ramblings!

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Spaghetti Squash Pesto Mac & Cheez!

I guess I must have forgotten that Fall and Winter are now behind us when I scooped up a giant spaghetti squash at the store last week in my grocery shopping frenzy.

I immediately regretted it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love squash in all its forms, from butternut and acorn to zucchini, and summer squash. But, I truly squashed myself out throughout the cold months, and even looking at the daunting spaghetti squash sitting quietly in the corner of my cupboard made me feel guilty/resentful of the stupid thing.

Usually when I look at my fridge or the ingredients around me, I feel inspired, my creativity sparks immediately, and I’m already cooking up a concoction in my mind.

I just couldn’t catch the creativity bug with this damn squash.

Since I’ve been short on cash lately, I’ve been avoiding larger shopping trips to try and use up all of what’s in my kitchen, and the time finally came for me to bake that motherf***er.

Since I had basil on hand, I thought I wanted to make pesto to go with it, but wanted something less oily and more comforting.

So, I threw together a pesto mac and cheez sauce from what I had on hand, roasted up some broccoli, and made a meal that made me grateful for that stupid squash and comforted by the fact that I could make something tasty even when my culinary juices weren’t exactly flowing as usual.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash, sliced down the middle, seeds removed
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 peppadews (I didn’t have bell peppers on hand so I used these…so good!)
  • 1/4 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Possible Toppings: Roasted broccoli or any other veggie, wilted spinach, pan fried tempeh.

For the Squash:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash halves skin side up on a greased cookie sheet. You can add oil and seasonings if you like. Bake for about 45 minutes or until halves are fork tender and filling is soft and string-able.

For the Sauce:

In a blender, combine chickpeas, nooch, garlic, basil, peppadews, tumeric, mustard, lemon juice, rice milk, and salt & pepper. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. It took me about 4 turns through my blender to get everything smooth and blended.

Head a large pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle a little olive oil in the pan and use a fork to shred squash into the pan. Top with the sauce and mix until everything is coated. Stir until squash and sauce are hot. Top with whatever you like!

This dish is surprisingly easy and quick, especially if you cook the squash the night before! It’s comforting, healthy, and filling, and an excellent way to get rid of any cold season squash lingering in the depths of your cupboards.

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5 Great Pieces of my Week

HAPPY FRIDAY BETCHES!

This week was hella busy, whether it was from the hustle and bustle at work to unexpectedly awesome social scenarios or from, of course, cooking and running my ass off.

For the first time since I can’t even remember, the sun was shining every. single. day. of the week!! Take it from me, in Rochester, that is something that doesn’t happen very often.

The sunshine on my face, the daffodils and tulips lining the sidewalks, and the walks to work with a light jacket, and back home with my jacket shoved in my bag, made for a truly uplifting week filled with all the good springtime feels 🙂

If I had to narrow it down, the five best pieces of my week were (so far)…

  1. The Red Wings Game! Collin and I ended up going to see the Red Wings (Rochester’s minor league baseball team) play on Monday night spontaneously. His friend Zach and Zach’s girlfriend Mary had extra tickets that they got for free and the four of us ended up watching some ball. Of course it was on the only day that the cold was still lingering and rain was coming down, but the apocalyptic lack of attendees gave us the freedom to sit cozily under one of the stadium’s roofs and enjoy the game out of the rain. Despite the cold, it was so nice to get our chat and crack up on with some awesome people.download (2)
  2. SMORGASBORD MEALS! My lack of creativity in the kitchen and money in the bank left me a little down in the dumps earlier in the week when I wanted to whip up something fancy and elaborate for dinner one night, but didn’t have the ideas or the funds to satisfy my onboxiously high standards when it comes to cooking dinner. Instead of being a little bitch about it, which I tend to do often when I can’t decide what to make, I did a total inventory check of my kitchen and just stuck to simple. Ironically, cooking with the simplest ingredients I had on hand reinvigorated my creativity, and I was able to turn out a tasty spread that totally shut my grumbly, temperamental tummy UP. I made some rice seasoned with fresh dill, dried oregano, and sea salt mixed with sauteed spinach and garlic in lemon juice. To go with that, I roasted some zucchini and eggplant in balsamic and made salt and vinegar crispy potatoes! IMG_5553 (1)
  3. LUNCH BREAKS @ HOME! I’ve felt a little bit antisocial at work for the past few weeks and instead of sitting with my “group” of friends, I’ve been gravitating more towards solo lunches spent watching netflix while eating and then taking walks outside and reading. Since the weather has been so nice and I just cannot stand how much I have to sit at work, I’ve been trekking back home to have lunch outside on my balcony with my plants. Although the walk is about 15 minutes each way, cutting my actual hour lunch in half, it’s worth it to A. get in a significant walk, and B. break up my day with some quality comfort and laid back alone time. To me, when I separate myself from work as much as possible during the one hour per day I am allowed free time to do as I please, I am more productive, energized, and at peace for the remaining four hours of the day.

    Me, Myself, and I...and my food, on my balcony. I really was happy, I swear...

    Me, Myself, and I…and my food, on my balcony. I really was happy, I swear…

  4. POST-WORK RUNS! Since I am in the midst of training for my next half-marathon coming up on June 21st, my runs have been increasing in length as the weeks go on. Instead of rolling out of bed to pound out a half hour on the treadmill at the gym at 5 AM before work, I now must gear up and hit the pavement post-work to clock my miles. While I am a morning person, 5 AM is still difficult for me when it comes to runs before breakfast, but it is really nice to know I got my workout on before most people are even awake and before I spend the day at work. Despite feeling a bit worn down after work, I’ve been able to fuel up with a clif bar and have some impressive post-work runs! The sunshine certainly helps, but I’m also finding myself more meditative than I previously had been on evening runs. Rather than dreading running after a full day of activity, I now look forward to finally moving my body after a long day of sitting and reflecting/leaving the day behind me. My times have been killer, and post-run dinners are the best kind of dinners.female-runner
  5. THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA! I’ve been dying to read this book for months now and finally got my hands on a copy (thanks Col). Michael Pollan is a wise, intelligent, and genius journalist who documented his experience tracing the pathway of the modern meal. The whole first section goes into detail about how we are essentially ruled by corn. He visits a modern day mono-crop farm where the owner plants solely corn that gets shipped to cows on CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations…AKA factory farms AKA concentration camps). He then follows the food chain of this nature further, ending the chain at McDonalds where he consumes a burger from the cows from the farm who ate the GMO corn. He follows this process from a highly sustainable farm where he consumes the chickens he helped slaughter, and then finally hunts a wild boar and gathers mushrooms to make a meal he hunted/gathered himself. Although I don’t necessarily agree with everything he has to say when it comes to eating animals, he truly dissects the modern way in which we receive, think about, and eat our food and really emphasizes the heart of the matter: that CAFOs and mono-crops of corn are NOT SUSTAINABLE for our future as mankind and the future of our planet. The book is truly a modern masterpiece and I urge everyone to give it a read!OmnivoresDilemma_full

I hope everyone has had a stellar week of sunshine, good food, good runs (or whatever you like to do to move your body), good reads, and good people.

CHEERZ TO DA FREAKIN’ WEEKEND~

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What I Eat in a Day!

Ever since I became a vegan, I have been constantly bombarded with questions about what I eat during a typical day, if I “miss” meat and animal products, and how can I “possibly be satisfied?!”

So, I decided to give a little glimpse into a typical day of eating for me to clear up the misconception that veganism is A. Super expensive, B. Just salad and C. Doesn’t leave you satisfied.

Now, I don’t count calories unless I want to ensure I’m eating ENOUGH food, and even then I just log my calories maybe once a week to see if I’m getting all my nutrients and getting in enough calories to support my daily runs. I eat loads of carbs, meaning vegetables, fruits, grains, starches, and oats, and eat until I’m full and guess what? I am ALWAYS satisfied at the end of the day, and maintain my fitness and physique without starving myself.

I do not crave meat, dairy, eggs, whatever. I crave the nutrients I honor myself with every day and I have never felt more vibrant, light in my body and heart, and energetic, and as an added bonus, since the last time I was training for a half-marathon, my mile times have improved more than they ever have before without the exhaustion that used to always plague me.

Bottom line: veganism RULES and I truly love the food I eat every single day.

P.S. Sorry these pictures are shit, I either was in a rush to eat my food, forgot about taking a picture until I was half way done, or the lighting was bad. But, you get the idea 🙂

BREAKFAST:

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1/3 cup uncooked old fashioned oats, cooked in 2/3 cup rice milk and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. I topped the oats with 1 sliced banana, 1/2 cup defrosted strawberries and peaches, 1 tsp. chia seeds, 1 tbsp. shredded coconut, and 1 tbsp. maple syrup. On the side I had some steamed kale and a cup of green tea.

AM SNACK:

Clif bar before my lunch break 4 mile run

                                               Clif bar before my lunch break 4 mile run

LUNCH:

Big bowl of leftover vegetable noodle soup and a 1/2 sandwich with frozen grilled veggies, avocado, grainy mustard, and spinach on a huge piece of french peasant bread.

Big bowl of leftover vegetable noodle soup and a 1/2 sandwich with frozen grilled veggies, avocado, grainy mustard, and spinach on a huge piece of french peasant bread.

PM SNACK:

1 pear (I like my fruit super ripe hehe) and 20 almonds or so (I ate some before I took this pic).

1 pear (I like my fruit super ripe hehe) and 20 almonds or so (I ate some before I took this pic).

DINNER:

Again, I started to eat my dinner before taking this I was so hungry after work! It's a huge bowl of 1 cup brown rice, 1 small sweet potato, 2 cups roasted broccoli, 1/2 cup roasted chick peas topped with tahini, 4 peppadews, balsamic drizzle, and nurtitional yeast.

Again, I started to eat my dinner before taking this I was so hungry after work! It’s a huge bowl of 1 cup brown rice, 1 small sweet potato, 2 cups roasted broccoli, 1/2 cup roasted chick peas topped with tahini, 4 peppadews, balsamic drizzle, and nurtitional yeast.

DESSERT (KINDA):

I had a square of the best chocolate in the whole world, dark chocolate with coconut shreds alongside a mug of mint tea before bed.

I had a square of the best chocolate in the whole world, dark chocolate with coconut shreds alongside a mug of mint tea before bed.

I hope this gives you guys some ideas about vegan meals or reminds you that this lifestyle is super accessible, is super affordable (I mean, broccoli, rice, beans, oats? Come on, cheapest food staples ever) and most importantly, DELICIOUS!

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