My Current “Meal Plan”

I haven’t done a post about my daily eats for awhile, I thought it would be fun to do a little recap of what my eating has looked like lately. This is a weekday of food, and I tend to try to eat more healthy during the week, so I have plenty of room for wine and frozen yogurt on the weekends. (That said, those two things seem to find their way into my evenings during weeknights, too…)

So here’s a little “What I Ate Wednesday” recap, to show you what my meals have been like lately.

Breakfast

Lately, I’ve been craving different breakfast foods. I used to have a smoothie every morning, but lately I’ve been having a bowl of yogurt with some fruit and granola when I first wake up, and then make a glass of fresh juice before I head out the door for work. I swear that juice is the best energy drink around!

breakfast granola and juice

Lunch

A new cafeteria at work opened up and I’m in love with the salad bar! They also have some great packaged snack options. I recently got this kale Caesar salad, which I was thrilled was vegetarian. (Typically Caesar dressing has anchovies in! Watch out!) To round out the lunch, I grabbed a bag of these soy crisps which pack in some extra protein. I try to avoid too much soy protein, but I thought it would be a nice snack with my salad.


kale salad
In the afternoon, I usually have a piece of fruit or a granola bar, to hold me over until dinner.

Dinner

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately, and I typically try to make something that incorporates some vegetables, as well as protein (usually a bean or cheese or combination of those two things) and sometimes that means tacos, sometimes it’s whole wheat pasta, or sometimes it’s a bean or lentil soup. I really didn’t cook that often, until last fall. I used to be such a calorie counter that it took a lot of the fun out of cooking. (Cooking with no oil, and just vegetables really isn’t that exciting, even for a vegetable lover like me.) I’m learning a lot about how flavors work together, and while I’m by no means a chef, I’m having fun learning in the kitchen.

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Depending on the night, sometimes Alex and I will go get frozen yogurt, or sometimes I’ll have some wine, but other times, I stay out of the kitchen. I no longer feel the need for a nighttime snack, as I’m eating enough throughout the day. I think I sleep better when my stomach isn’t totally full.

So clearly, I’m not really following any sort of meal plan, but I have a basic outline of how I try to eat. None of it is set in stone, and I don’t count calories anymore. It’s much more relaxed, and I have no trouble sticking to this sort of plan, because nothing is off limits! Just moderation and veggies where ever I can get them!

What’s your meal plan look like?

Vegan Chickpea Tortilla Soup

There was a local restaurant chain in Columbus that I frequented growing up, that was known for their chicken tortilla soup. I’d tried it before, back when I ate meat, and I liked how spicy it was but I wasn’t crazy about it. It lost a bit of it’s appeal when we found out that this “delicious” soup, came from a giant frozen bag that was shipped to the store. What a shame. I’d hate to see the ingredients list on there.

But ever since then, I’ve liked the idea of tortilla soup. Any soup that lets me sprinkle some tortilla chips on top is delicious in my book. So when I saw an almost empty bag of tortilla chips sitting on the counter top, I knew their destiny should be soup. I scanned Pinterest for some tortilla soup recipes, but sadly, most of them contained chicken. What’s a vegetarian to do? Experiment.

So Alex and I ran to the grocery store, and I picked out some staple ingredients (avocados, peppers, and tomatoes always seem to make their way into my basket) and after church, I did some testing in the kitchen. Here’s what it looked like:

Vegan Chickpea Tortilla Soup from I Heart Vegetables

Chickpea Tortilla Soup

Vegan/Gluten Free, serves 3-4

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded* (Optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 28oz can of tomatoes
  • 1 12oz can chickpeas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 ear of corn
  • handful of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 avocado
  • handful of tortilla chips, crushed
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Note: If you do use a jalapeno (or habanero pepper) wear gloves while you’re cutting it up! I didn’t think to do that, and my finger tips we burning for the rest of the night! You’ve been warned.

Dice the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and add in diced onion, bell pepper and garlic. Slice the jalapeno pepper, and remove the seeds. Dice and add into the skillet. (Depending on how hot you like it, you could add in the pepper seeds, but I’d leave them out if you’re not sure! We seeded the pepper but also added in a habanero pepper and it was super spicy!) Once the onion and peppers begin to get soft, add in the vegetable broth, tomatoes, chickpeas, salt, cilantro and cumin. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 20 minutes. While that’s cooking, “grill” the corn, which for me, was heating up a little oil in a skillet and letting the corn roll around for about 7 minutes over medium heat, or until parts of the ear were brown. Let cool, and then use a sharp knife to cut the corn off the cob. Set aside. Wash and roughly chop the cilantro. Grab the avocado half and slice into thin strips. When you’re ready to serve, top with fresh cilantro, corn, avocado and crushed tortilla chips.

I did add in an extra habanero pepper to ours, and it was super spicy! If you’re not a huge fan of spice, leave it out. I think we were both sweating by the end of this dinner. Still, it was good, and a fairly easy dinner to make. (One dish meals also mean less to clean up!) This was also a great recipe, because we had just discussed chickpeas and avocados in one my health coaching courses! In a nutshell, eat them up! They’re both packed with good-for-you nutrients like fiber!

P.S. The winner of the Blue Apron giveaway was Jess! Jess, I’ll shoot you an e-mail today with details!

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What’s your favorite kind of soup?

3 Easy Ways to Save Time & Stay Healthy

Do you have too much time on your hands? I didn’t think so. Life is busy! Sometimes it makes my head spin when I look at my to-do list. But worrying about it won’t make it better, you just have to jump in and tackle it! When things get crazy, these are my tricks for staying on top of things! You can save time and still be healthy!

1. Multitask!

Ok, let’s clarify. Multitasking does NOT equal: texting and driving or talking on the phone on the treadmill.  (Why do people do that?!) But there are times when multitasking is awesome. Knock out some reading on the treadmill, or listen to a podcast while you’re on a run. It’s like doing double duty.

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I’ve had a lot of things to do for the health coaching program I enrolled in, so I’ve been getting some reading done while on the elliptical. This also works well on the stairclimber. Not so much on the treadmill. Running and reading are a recipe for a headache.

2. Pick an easy recipe for dinner!

I know, takeout sounds so easy… but most of the dinners delivered to your door are not the healthiest options. I know that some recipes are way too complicated for those days when you got home from work late, and are rushing off to the next activity. (It’s ok if that activity is Netflix. I’m not judging.) But don’t pick up the phone! Check out this whole list of 5 ingredient recipes! No frustrating recipe instructions required.

creamy feta pizza

That Feta pizza can be made in less than 5 minutes. It’s faster than take out! And still delicious.

3. Mini workouts

Quick circuit workouts are the answer for those days where you just don’t have time to re-do your hair. (I know you’ve had those moments where you don’t want to workout, because you’re having a good hair day. I get it.) That’s ok! Squeeze in a few toning workouts that will engage your muscles, but won’t make you quite as sweaty as an intense cardio session.

10 minute circuit workout

Pin that! You can do this almost anywhere. And you know you have 10 minutes in your day for a little workout. A quick 10 minute workout is the perfect way to clear your head if you’re drowning in your e-mail inbox. A little movement will help you focus!

What are your time saving tips for staying healthy?

Cannellini Bean & Escarole Salad with Crispy Potatoes

Sunday night, Alex and I whipped up another Blue Apron recipe. I was excited about this one, because I’d never purchased escarole and wasn’t sure what to expect. Honestly, it kind of just tasted like Romaine lettuce, but I liked it. It was crunchy and fresh. I also hadn’t bought Cannellini beans before, and I was surprised at how soft and creamy they were. I really liked them!

This dinner came together pretty easily, and I liked the contrast of the warm, crispy potatoes, against the refreshing salad. It was a nice balance for a summer meal. Plus, the potatoes made me feel like I was eating something “guilty” when it really wasn’t bad for me. These meals clocked in at 600 calories each, but we had leftovers, so I’m guessing it was more like 500 each. Not bad for a dinner that kept me full until breakfast!

Here’s the recipe, reprinted with permission from Blue Apron.

Cannellini bean salad with escarole

Cannellini Bean & Escarole Salad with Crispy Potatoes

  • 1 15oz can of Cannellini beans
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1/2  head of escarole
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise (you could use Greek yogurt)
  • 1 lemon

For the potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 500, and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Peel and slice the potatoes into 1 inch slices. When the water is boiling, add in the potatoes and boil for 10 minutes, then drain. Line a large baking sheet with foil, and rub with olive oil. Spread out the potato slices onto the baking sheet and spray the top with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes, turning halfway through.

For the salad:
Dice the parsley, red onion, and Escarole. Add the diced veggies into a large bowl. Rinse and drain the beans, and toss with the vegetables.

For the dressing:
Mince the garlic and roughly chop the capers. In a small dish, whisk together the mayonnaise and juice from 1/2 the lemon, and then add in the garlic and capers.

Combine the salad and dressing, and top with potatoes! For the full recipe card, complete with visuals, click here!

This was really the first time I’d tried the hot/cold salad. It was a nice way to enjoy a big salad, but still feel like I was having a substantial and satisfying dinner.

It’s not too late to enter for a FREE box from Blue Apron! Click here to enter :)

I have to be honest, it was really awesome cooking these recipe the last few nights, knowing I wouldn’t be missing an ingredient or something. It also took the thought out of coming up with a recipe, which was a nice break! The rest of the week is pretty packed with some work traveling, so I was able to put off a major grocery store run for a couple more days! Avoiding the grocery store is probably my best strategy against over-spending on groceries ;)

Hope you’re all having an amazing week so far!

Have you had Cannellini beans before?

Blue Apron Recipe (+Giveaway!)

Ok, if we’re being honest, I didn’t do much cooking over the weekend. I spent most of the day Saturday laying around in the sunshine at Virginia Beach with a bunch of lovely ladies. We relaxed for most of the day, but we did fit in a few handstands.

Beach handstands

Luckily, I do have a recipe from Thursday I must share with you!

Have you heard of Blue Apron? They’re a new grocery-delivery service that drops off a box of groceries + 3 recipes right at your doorstep. (Note: I was not supplied this box from Blue Apron, our friend Jeremy sent it to us. Thanks, Jeremy!) I was pretty excited to see what was in the box. They sent this e-mail a day or two before the everything arrived, to give me a preview of the recipes:

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Needless to say, it got me excited. On the day it arrived, Alex and I decided to make the Tabbouleh recipe. Blue Apron makes it simple, because most of the ingredients are pre-measured, and the box comes with recipe cards that include step by step instructions, including photos, which was awesome. This recipe was fairly simple, but it did have us blanch and peel the tomatoes which was something neither of us had done before. It was kind of fun learning something new! I’d say it took about 20 minutes for this dinner to come together, which isn’t bad at all.

tabbouleh with heirloom tomatoes

Here’s the recipe, reprinted with permission from Blue Apron.

Tabbouleh with Heirloom Tomatoes, Manchego Cheese, and Champagne Vinegar

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 2 Persian cucumbers (or one regular cucumber)
  • 8 oz Heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 large bunch parsley
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 2 oz Manchego cheese

Cook the bulgur according to package directions. Rinse tomatoes and place in ice water. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for 1 minute, and then put them back in the ice water. Peel the tomatoes. Dice the cucumbers, onion, and parsley. Mince the garlic and mash into a paste. Slice cheese as thinly as possible. Toss everything in a bowl, and dig in! (For more detailed instructions, click here!)

Honestly, this was pretty delicious! It wasn’t anything super fancy, but we had fun making it, and we actually had plenty of leftovers that I packed for lunch the next day. Bonus!

So here’s what I think about Blue Apron:

  • It’s a great way to try some new foods, and new recipes.
  • Yes, it’s a little pricy. It’s $60 for the box, which is 3 meals for 2. Basically $10 each per meal.
  • You do have to plan your schedule around the delivery. It gives you a little less flexibility in your meal planning schedule.
  • The meals also include the calorie count for each meal, and they’re pretty healthy.
  • Alex pointed out that we learned a new cooking technique (blanching) which we might not have done otherwise.
  • It’s some nice variety to the typical menu, and if you love a recipe, you could make it again.
  • It’s nice getting ingredients, like manchego cheese, in exactly the quantity you need. This means not having to buy a lot of an ingredient you might not use again.

And now, it gets even better! I talked to the folks at Blue Apron to see if they’d give out a discount and they gave me this link which gives you all 30% off, plus… they’re giving one lucky reader a FREE box of their own! It’ll ship to your doorstep, and you can let me know what you think!

To enter: Leave me a comment and tell me which recipe you would want to try!

For an extra entry, follow me on BlogLovin, and leave me a comment letting me know you did! Good luck!
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Health Coaching and New Workouts

Sometimes I get so caught up in recipe writing, picture taking, and food tasting that I fill up the blog with food, food, food, and I forget to sprinkle in a little life update. Oops!

So I have some exciting news I meant to announce awhile ago… I enrolled in a health coaching program! I’ve been thinking about this for the past year or two, and I finally decided to do it! The program is through Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, and I’m taking the first of 3 classes this summer. (I’ll be done with the first course near the end of August) and I’ll hopefully have the whole program completed in the next year. I’m really excited that this could open up a lot of doors to help even more people love their vegetables ;)

health coaching homework

The reading material has been taking up most of my time when I’m not working, at the gym, cooking, or blogging. Somehow I’ve managed to see Alex in there as well, so he’s not getting off that easy! I can’t wait to share more of what I learn with you all! Stay tuned for more updates on that.

And now on to a new workout… have you guys heard of Tracy Anderson? I had a friend (Hey, Annie!) tell me about her forever ago, but I never actually tried her workouts. Then I saw this post on Brittany’s blog and tried out the video. The dvds are a little on the pricey side, but I tried a few on YouTube and… wow.

I’ve tried most of the workouts she has up on YouTube and here are my initial thoughts:

  • I like that most of her workouts don’t require anything other than a mat (great for vacations!)
  • The type of workout reminds me of a barre-class workout. Not that she uses a barre… but it’s a lot of small movements that really get your muscles burning.
  • She doesn’t tell you what moves she’s doing, or when she’s switching, so you really have to watch closely. At first, that made it tricky, but it also meant that watching the same one over and over doesn’t drive you crazy. I like playing my own workout playlist, and then just watching what she’s doing. (It is tricky at first though.)
  • I like that the workouts don’t require a lot of jumping/cardio type stuff. I love this because sometimes the circuit style workouts bother my knees. These are relatively low impact.
  • It’s the perfect workout if you’re trying to squeeze something in and don’t have time for a shower afterwards. You won’t necessarily work up a big sweat, and you can do it without making a lot of noise (aka it’s perfect when my roommates are still asleep!)

I’m still contemplating buying some of the dvds. They’re really expensive, so I might just stick to the webisodes for awhile!

Have you ever tried Tracy Anderson’s workouts?

Super Simple Granola Bars

I have to eat an afternoon snack. Maybe I don’t eat enough for lunch, or maybe it’s all in my head, but I must an afternoon snack every single day. If I don’t, I’m starving when I get home. So I typically pack a piece of fruit or some sort of granola bar to tide me over until dinner.

But I’ve recently started being more of an ingredients-label reader… not just a calorie counter. And have you looked at some of those granola bar ingredients recently? Even if they’re “good for you” in terms of calories, protein, and fat… they can be loaded with confusing ingredients.

What happened? When did a granola bar because a concoction of 50 different ingredients? What happened to a simple list of some whole grains and natural sweetener? Do I need 20 grams of protein in my afternoon snack? I don’t know. But what I do know is. I was spending way too much money on expensive protein bars that had a laundry list of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. And now I want to get back to the basics.

So last week, as part of a FitFluential campaign, I received a jar of NuttZo to review. It comes in three flavors: Original, Chocolate, and Peanut-Free. I was sent a jar of Original, which seemed like a good start. I was impressed with the ingredients list, which includes 7 different nuts, plus flax seeds, and is packed with good-for-me Omega 3′s. (Plus NuttZo donates a portion of their profits to an orphanage. So, there’s that.)

I had it in my protein shakes in the morning, and enjoyed it on some frozen waffles, but I wanted to do more with it. So why not work it into a recipe? It was time to come up with a simple granola bar recipe, made with real ingredients.

Super Simple Granola Bars from I Heart Vegetables

Super Simple Granola Bars

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup salted nut butter (I used NuttZo)
  • 1 cup whole grain oats
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional but obviously delicious)

Note: This will work with any nut butter, but I highly recommend a salted, creamy kind. If you get unsalted, just add a pinch or two into the recipe! But seriously, give NuttZo a shot! It’s sold at most Whole Foods stores, and of course online.

In a medium sauce pan, warm up the honey and brown sugar over low heat, until the brown sugar is dissolved. Stir in the nut butter until combined. Remove from heat and stir in the oats and rice cereal. If you’re adding in chocolate chips, wait until the mixture has cooled a little bit, or else it will melt. Spread into a 6×8 pan (or medium loaf pan) and let set. Cut into bars, and wrap in plastic wrap, for an easy on-the-go snack!

Honestly, these taste more like dessert. They’re gooey, sweet, and crunchy. Yes, they have sugar in them, and these aren’t going to pack in 50 grams of protein or anything, but they’re a nice alternative to your vending machine selection. Plus, you can whip these up in literally 5 minutes. So no excuses! I will warn you, they are very crumbly. If that’s a problem, just pop them in the fridge of freezer, and that should help. Even if they’re crumbly, I promise you’ll be eating every last crumb.

Note: These double as dessert. Promise.

What’s your favorite granola bar?

Vegetarian Bibimbap & Sparkling Sangria Recipe

Over the weekend, my family came for a visit, and brought along Alexa, my best friend from Ohio! It was such a fun weekend, and I’m sad it went by so fast. We did manage to pack in quite a lot of activity along the way, including shopping, a photo shoot, and of course whipping up a few delicious recipes.

I first had Bibimbap at a Korean restaurant in Washington D.C. and I loved it. The tender rice, fresh vegetables, and warm egg make an amazing combination, and it’s easy to customize to your preferred spiciness.

Vegetarian Bibimbap I really tried to follow this recipe from Martha Stewart, but with every recipe, I made a few substitutions. Instead of shallots, we used a sweet onion, and we cooked the rice in veggie broth instead of water. We also added in a red pepper, and a tsp of fresh ginger. This came out beautifully! The recipe was pretty easy to follow, so I’d recommend giving it a try. It’s rare that I actually follow a recipe, so check that one out!

Of course, with all the recipe following, you know we had to do some experimentation. On Friday night, Alexa and I were craving sangria, so we decided to whip up a super simple “lighter” Sangria recipe, using lots of fresh fruit, and diet tonic water.

Sparkling Citrus Sangria from I Heart Vegetables

Easy Sparkling Sangria

Makes ~ 10 glasses, only 70 calories a glass!

  • 1 bottle of Riesling, chilled
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 24 oz diet tonic water

Ready for the easiest recipe ever? Half all the fruit. Juice half (I used my juicer, but you could do it by hand) and slice the other half up into thin slices. Add everything to the Riesling and let it chill for a few hours. (We didn’t actually wait that long because we were impatient, but it’s better if you can!) Then add in the tonic water, for a little bubbly! Doesn’t get easier than that!

Sunday night, Alexa did a photo shoot with me, Lindsay and Kate, and we had so much fun getting dressed up and goofing around at the park. This was our attempt at serious faces:

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Me, Lindsay, & Kate. Aren’t my friends gorgeous? Thanks for the photo, Alexa!

Did you make anything this weekend?

Corn Tortillas vs. Flour Tortillas

I love Mexican food. Have I made that clear? I do. If you need proof, just look at this TVP tacos, this tostada, or these quesadillas. It’s easy to find vegetarian options. And it’s delicious.

Now let’s answer the age old question… corn or flour tortillas?

I thought I’d do a little head to head comparison. Obviously, it ultimately comes down to which you like better. But if you’ve ever wondered about the differences, here they are!

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Calories & Fat

Corn Tortillas- Usually about 70 calories and 1 gram of fat. Keep in mind, sometimes these are a little smaller than flour tortillas. These typically don’t have much fiber or protein in them.

Flour Tortillas- These can vary widely. A typical one has about 100-150 calories. (If you get the high fiber kind, it will be lower) and about 3.5 g of fat. If you do get whole wheat, it will back a little extra protein and fiber. The “white” kind don’t have much to offer.

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Ingredients

Corn- These usually have a much smaller ingredient list, so if that’s important to you, these might be your best bet.

Flour- These typically contain a lot of ingredients, but not necessarily bad ones. Keep an eye on the ingredients and make sure they’re not sneaking in things like high fructose corn syrup (you’d be surprised) or hydrogenated oils.

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Allergies

Corn allergies are pretty rare, so this is usually the safe choice for people with allergies. If you’re gluten intolerant, corn tortillas give you a great gluten free option.

Obviously, flour tortillas contain gluten.

Taste

This one is subjective, obviously. Corn tortillas tend to be a little flakier, where as flour tortillas are usually chewy. While this might not exactly be a taste thing, flour tends to work better for wraps and burritos, as the corn ones have a tendency to break apart if they’re wrapped to tightly. Corn tortillas are perfect for tostadas, tacos, etc.

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Price

Both are pretty cheap, although corn tend to always be cheap, and some of the high fiber flour tortillas can get a little pricy. Still, if you’re going for flour tortillas, it’s probably worth it to get whole wheat! (And again, double check the ingredients list!)

Do you like corn or flour tortillas?

Vegan Tempeh Tostadas

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There is a restaurant to blame for this post. Specifically the French Meadow in Minneapolis which served me one of the best tempeh dishes my little mouth has ever tasted. (See the photo here.) I was glad I tried it, because it inspired this dinner. This recipe is both vegan and gluten-free, so hopefully you can enjoy it!

If you’re not familiar with tempeh, it’s a meat-substitute, typically made from soy, although some brands use grain as well. It has a hearty texture, but not much flavor, so it sort of takes on the flavor of what it’s cooked with. Like tofu, but in my opinion, it’s an easier texture to get used to. Normally I use it in stir fries, or on top of salads. It’s great cooked in Teriyaki sauce. But I needed to do something new with it, and this tostada was the perfect dish!

These were so simple, that next time I might get a little fancier, and add some fresh pico de gallo and peppers. But why not start off easy, right? Alex said this might be his favorite way to eat tempeh, so if you’re new to it, this might be a good first step!

Vegan Tempeh Tacos from I Heart Vegetables

Vegan Tempeh Tostadas

Serves 2-3

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 16 oz tempeh
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup guacamole (or avocado slices)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (optional)

Start by heating up the oil in a medium sauce pan. Dice the onion and saute over medium heat, until it begins to soften. Crumble the tempeh and add into the pan. Pour in the salsa and water and it let simmer for 10 minutes, adding more water if it starts to dry out. In a small skillet, toast the corn tortillas for a couple of minutes on each side, until crispy. Top the tortillas with the tempeh mixture. Add guacamole, (and cheese, if you want) and serve! You could also add some romaine lettuce or sour cream, I just didn’t have any on hand.

These came together so easily, and I’m glad I found a new way to enjoy tempeh. All the ingredients are things I typically have on hand, which makes this meal an easy weeknight recipe.

Have you tried tempeh? If so, what’s your favorite way to eat it?