Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Make Peanut Butter Balls | The Ultimate Memorial Day Menu

Friday, December 30, 2011

Weighting Game --- New Year New US!

As long as I can remember, I’ve been consumed with my weight. Having been on both ends of the spectrum, I can definitely own up to my struggles with weight. I remember the first time I noticed I was a little heavier than the “other girls”. I was in the fifth grade, and my mom lovingly suggested I not eat another something or other because I was getting chubby. I actually called myself going on a diet in the fifth grade. It’s funny now but then I was devastated. I remember packing my lunch and having water, townhouse crackers, and a couple boxes of raisins.
As time went on it seemed as though I gained about five to ten pounds every year. So much so that by my senior year in high school this is what I looked like.

I struggled all through high school and college with a desire to slim down but I didn’t know where to begin or how to eat. Freshman year in college became my take-charge year. I remember my dorm room being stocked with Tae Bo VHS (yes, VHS), and Slim Fast. I didn’t see any results. Not drastically anyway.
Sophomore year, I was required to take a PE class and a health elective. I took a nutrition course and the little bit that I learned charged me. My professor mentioned how vegetarians tend to way less than meat eaters. I decided that when the fall semester was over and January rolled around, I’d turn over a new leaf and give up meat for good. That was eight years ago and I’ve been a vegetarian since.
When I first became a vegetarian, the weight began to steadily melt away. I took up yoga and made it a point to do a [walking] lap around campus every morning before classes. I became vegan briefly, started juicing when I could, eating an abundance of raw food and became the epitome of a health nut.
I weighed 250 pounds going in and weighed in at 150 going out. I’d done it! I had lost the weight that had bugged me for years! But there was one problem, I didn’t know how to maintain. I went out with my friends, had a few drinks, ate pizza and nachos and expected to stay slim. Even though there wasn’t any meat on my plate, I still had massive amounts of junk food and expected to stay thin simply because I wasn’t consuming meat.
I have the type of physique that HAS to be worked on to be maintained. I’m not effortlessly slim. I started gaining weight really fast after the second time I was laid off and I didn’t know how to make it stop. Still practicing a vegetarian lifestyle but eating TONS of processed foods, not being dedicated with exercise, and being extremely depressed does not a skinny girl make. I was averaging a steady gain of about 10 pounds a YEAR! Over the span of four years….
This past summer, I decided to join Weight Watchers but in one meeting someone asked what the difference between brown rice and white rice was and the meeting leader responded, “Nothing! It’s the same thing.” Because of how nutritionally sound I’d been for close to eight years, I took offence to her not giving a truthful answer. Well, I guess it was true based on the Weight Watchers Points Plus system but in actuality there’s a big difference between the two. Needless to say, I didn’t go back after that meeting.
My brother passed in July and that emotional trigger sent me over the edge of “comfort” eating and not really thinking much about what I put in my body.
I realized recently that I had to get back to brass-tax. I had to re-educate myself on what the body needs, what weight loss methods really work, and which ones will truly help me lose and maintain weight.
Now that I know where to begin (AGAIN) and having a partner in my sister Racquel, I can pinpoint my food struggles which are sugar and processed foods. Including all veggie nuggets, burgers, frozen waffles, veggie sausage, Swedish Fish, Air Heads, Twizzlers, Skittles. I have a weakness for chewy candies and sugar has become THE demon that I really need to exorcise (immediately).

So here’s the plan:
I will be eliminating the following things from my diet (indefinitely) –
1)   Sugar (including raw and unbleached sugars)
2)   Oil (oil is considered good for you but is a highly concentrated source of calories)
3)   Gluten (I’m leaning towards the suspicion that I have an allergy and getting it out of my diet will help me really know if I do; puffiness in my face, abdomen, and ankles)
4)   Caffeine (We all should do it at some point)
5)   All processed foods
6)   And of course, meat and dairy

I’m on a mission to look BETTER than I looked here….

Let’s make 2012 a great year and do it together! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fresh Taste Friday ---Recipe #8--- Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

DISCLAIMER:: A cookie is a cookie is a cookie. Please, keep in mind that this is NOT considered health food and if you're on a mission to vegan slenderness these and all vegan goodies should be consumed in moderation. Fortunately, vegan cookies are always 100% cholesterol free.

Good morning and Merry Christmas all,

It's that time of year again! Hot apple cider, hot cocoa, soy nog, and cookie baking! The cookie baking has to be, hands down, my favorite part of the holidays. I love to pop in a classic Christmas movie and bake to my hearts content to share with others, of course. The adage still applies with vegans, a second on the lips forever on the hips.

Anyway, I figured I'd crank out two recipes this morning so that I can have a head start for next week.

This week, it's all about the gingerbread cookie! I never had the pleasure of baking these before I became vegan (again) but I'm pretty sure these will be a holiday staple from now on. Because of how firmly these cookies bake, they're perfect to be decorated and hung on the Christmas tree for an added bit of character. And who wouldn't love an edible Christmas ornament?

The recipe I'm about to share with you, I found in the Lush Christmas newsletter, which apparently was taken from the site (great site!).

Here's what you'll need...

1/2 cup coconut oil (solid)
1/2 cup fancy molasses
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 tsp freshly grated ginger (including juice)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated is recommended; I used the regular McCormick's)
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I like unbleached but today I used whole wheat all purpose)

What to do:

*I use a Kitchen Aid mixer so as the machine is running I just dump in the ingredients in the order needed.* Cream together the coconut oil and sugar until fluffy. Add molasses and vanilla extract. Add grated ginger and juice to wet ingredients and blend until combined. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda, mixing well. Slowly add flour (I did this 1/4 cup at a time) and mix until dough comes together. My dough was a bit crumbly but it didn't seem to make much difference. Shape dough into 2 discs and chill at least 2 hours. I chilled it over night. Preheat oven to 375 and on a floured surface, roll out 1 disc to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into festive shapes. Bake ON PARCHMENT PAPER!!!! Very important. Bake 6-8 minutes depending on your oven. Edges should be firm and the centers should still be soft (when they come out). Allow to cool completely before decorating. This is how mine turned out. I'm about to start decorating them now! Have a great Friday!!!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cold Buggin' ---> Natural Cold Relief

Good morning,

It's been a few weeks since I've posted on this blog but I'm glad to be back! I've had a bunch of blog post ideas over the weekend so I'll be posting more as the holidays approach. Before I get into a world wind of posting holiday vegan cookie recipes, I wanted to give a few tips on how to beat the cold germ. I have a little cold and it occurred to me that I may not be the only one with the sniffles. What, with the weather being us up and down as it's been, it's hard not to pick up the "bug".

Tis the season to be coughing... and sneezing... and aching... and everything else but there are some sure fire natural remedies that have proven to beat the winter common cold blues and get you up and running and ready to hit the mall with a vengeance.

My first immune booster is to juice your citrus. We know our oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits pack a vitamin C punch and vitamin C keeps our immune system vital and healthy. When you juice citrus it's best to drink it straight away. It's potency dwindles as time passes so get all you can as soon as the air hits it. Personally, I think it tastes differently if you wait too long to drink it. Juicing radishes also helps TREMENDOUSLY! They cleanse the nasal passages. Radishes have a very potent smell but the juice actually has a pleasant taste. I like to juice them with carrots.

Secondly, my favorite immune booster is Emergen-C. It's an awesome supplement that can be taken all year. It comes in a host of flavors, has a little fizz and a nice mild flavor. Currently, I have orange and raspberry on hand. I bought the two flavors from a bulk supplier but there are a myriad of flavors. They can be purchased literally EVERYWHERE now-a-days.

Secondly, there are a great variety of homeopathic and natural cough and cold remedies on the market. Your best bet would be to head to your local health food store or vitamin supplier (The Vitamin Shoppe is a great place). I'm a fan of the Naturade Sugar Free Expec or the Naturade Herbal Expec. They're both expectorants that loosen and obliterate your "cold" and get it out of your system without sending you into a drunken stooper and having you wake up with what feels like a mild hangover. (Also pictured below are Ricola cough suppressants and Yogi Tea in the Cold Season Remedy (not a fan of the taste).

Another one that works well for me is... the enema! Yep, that's right! An enema is a great way to get rid of a cold. A lot of that mucus is being stored not only in your lungs but in your colon so having a good poop often eases you out of your cold quite nicely. 

Lastly, the hot tottie! Everyone's grandmother had a hot tottie cure for a bad winter cold. It usually entailed some hot whiskey or brandy. No doubt this worked like a charm but if you want to take a milder approach this one works for me every time. I like to boil a tea kettle of water. I dice about an inch of fresh ginger and add it to my cup of choice. I pour in a couple tablespoons of unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar. I really prefer the organic. Once you've had the conventional filtered version you'll see why. I also squeeze in some fresh lemon. You can also sweeten it with agave nectar (or honey if you're not opposed to consuming it). Once your water has boiled, pour it over the four ingredients in your tea cup and sip slowly. I promise, this is the wonder "drug"! I have no idea why it works so well but I do know it works. I'm boiling some water as we speak. 

Pictured below are two bottles of apple cider vinegar. Take a stab at guessing which one is filtered and which one isn't. 

If you guessed the one with the CLOUDY appearance to be the unfiltered one... well, you guessed the obvious! lol!!! To me, the unfiltered has a better taste. Strong. But Better. 

Try any of these cold season remedies to squash the cold bug with your snow boots or post a comment below with some of your tried and true, favorite, natural cold season remedies. Have a great Wednesday! 

~Keep joOcing,


Friday, November 4, 2011

Fresh Taste Friday ---Recipe #7--- Sweet Potato Casserole VEGANIZED

Growing up, there wasn't a Thanksgiving or a Sunday dinner for that matter, that went by that our mother didn't prepare sweet potatoes. Whether she baked them or candied them, we were having sweet potatoes! My favorite way to enjoy them is either in the form of a baked french fry (which I ate last night; will share the simple recipe soon) or as simply a baked potato with vegan butter and a little organic brown sugar. Tis the season to fancy it up a bit! Our mother usually would candy her sweet potatoes for the holidays but I remember a few occasions where she mashed some potatoes and topped them with some marshmallows. Talk about a classic. I've heard this recipe called yammallow and in essence that's really what it is --> Yams and marshmallows!

Lately, I've become obsessed with veganizing and healthifizing (totally not a word) traditional or readily recognizable recipes. I've also found that if you don't tell people it's vegan, they really wouldn't know the difference. It's all about the layers of flavors and making the vegan version taste a million times better than the original.

This will easily serve about 8 people. Since it's the holidays, you'll definitely want to make more. I promise this recipe is your ticket to being a holiday vegan rock star!!!!

Oh yeah! Vegan marshmallows are a MUST!!!! All marshmallows aren't vegan. Well, none are unless the package says VEGAN. The reason being is because gelatin is derived from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. All of the commercial marshmallows I've seen on the market contain gelatin making them a non-vegan food. My favorite vegan marshmallows are Dandies and yes, they taste better than the real thing! (All of the measurements can be doubled or tripled depending on the amount of people you're serving)

In addition to the vegan marshmallows, you'll need

4 boiled sweet potatoes (or one per guest)
Lots of cinnamon (I never measure the cinnamon)
4 tbs brown sugar (or 1 tbs per guest)
4 tbs vegan margarine ( 1 tbs per guest)
2 tbs vegan cane sugar (1 tbs per guest)
4 tbs cornstarch mixed with 1/4 of soy milk or soy creamer (to double simply use 6 tbs cornstarch to 1/2 cup soy milk)
1 bag of marshmallows should suffice but if you like it gooey get another bag and have at it!

After the sweet potatoes have been boiled, let them cool until they can be handled. Peel them and if you have a potato ricer press the boiled potatoes through it so the strings can be removed. I just prefer the strings out. This process also takes care of mashing the potatoes for you so from here toss in all of the ingredients (except the marshmallows) and mix until well combined. Place in a casserole dish and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. It should be bubbly around the edges and starting to firm up on the top. You don't want it to be too firm. Top with the marshmallows and bake for another 10-15 minutes (depending on your oven). You're just looking for the marshmallows to look like this.....


Monday, October 24, 2011

It’s HaLlOwEen

Between now and next Monday American’s will consume an abundance of sugar.  That’s not even considering the fact that the holidays are coming. Heck they are here!  There will be office parties, trick or treating, mall events, house parties and the list goes on and on.  All of these events spell one thing and one thing only…..SUGAR! Sugar is literally killing the human body.  Yes it taste good, but the high fructose and sucrose does such damage .  Sugar can suppress the immune system, it interferes with the mineral relationship with the body, can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.  Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides, reduces the body’s defense against bacterial infection, reduces bone density, leads to ovarian cancer, increases fasting glucose levels, copper deficiency, interferes with calcium and magnesium.  Weakens eyesight, can cause arthritis, gallstones, appendicitis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, hemorrhoids, and the list literally goes on and on.  Sugar is a weapon to the body.  Is an occasional sweet tooth going to kill you….NO! However, we shouldn’t want to aid in these conditions effecting us, and one way to aid is to continue putting the poison in our bodies.  Sodas, chips, cakes, ice cream, etc.  October 31, 2011 there will be pillowcases and garbage bags filled with nothing but sugar, sugar, and more sugar.  I remember when I was a kid my mother would take my bag of candy and put it in the freezer so that I would not consume it during that week.  Not just Halloween though.  Our daily Starbucks Frapps, and Lattes,  Mocha’s, you name it.  High sugar follows us, we eat it and it sits in our bodies eating our teeth away, our calcium away, the magnesium, our immune system………AWAY! Reduce your sugar intake.  Like way down!  There are alternatives to sugar, you just gotta go out and research to find it, but it’s there. 
Have a great day and Keep JoOcing!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fresh Taste Friday ---Recipe #6--- Racquel’s Faux Fish Cakes

Racquel’s Faux Fish cakes
1 lb. extra firm tofu
5 carrots (finely shredded)
Parsley (finely shredded)
Cilantro (finely shredded)
Medium onion (small dice)
1 large celery stalk
4 garlic cloves (minced)
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce/liquid aminos
6 tbsp nutritional yeast
Tbsp ground mustard
3 tbsp old bay seasoning
Pepper to taste
1 egg replacer
1 cup +3 tbsp flour

DIRECTIONS: Remove tofu from package wrap in clean kitchen towel to fully drain.  Sit on plate and sit a pot or another plate on top for about 15 to 20 minutes.  You won’t believe how much water is inside of tofu.  Meanwhile, sauté your onion and celery on medium heat in non-stick pan coated with extra virgin olive oil.  Sauté for 3 minutes or until translucent.  Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more.  Remove from heat and transfer to bowl to cool.  By now the tofu should be ready.  Remove from towel, and crumble with your hands as fine as you can….NO CHUNKS!  Add carrots, parsley, and cilantro.  Mix well with tofu….very well! Add nutritional yeast, soy sauce or liquid aminos, old bay, 3 tbs of flour, mustard and pepper.  Mix well with a spoon (I prefer my clean hands to mix).  By now onion mixture should be cooled.  Add to tofu mixture.  MIX WELL! Add 1 egg replacer (instructions to follow) mix well.  Add lemon juice, mix, vinegar and mix.  You should begin to get an amazing smell from what’s in your bowl.

Combine into balls and form patties and take the other cup of flour and lightly coat patties and put into pan for frying.  3 minutes on each side.  Flip when golden brown.

Egg Replacer
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp oil
Mix well until paste like.