Vegan/Vegetarian meals

This post is a little follow up on my previous post “This nurses thoughts on nutrition.”

Learning about Nutrition sucked me in. I couldn’t just stop with one documentary and TED talk. I’ve watched almost every documentary I could find on the benefits of a plant based diet, and I even started reading “The Starch Solution.” I am hooked. Chad has been doing an awesome job with eating plant based 80% on the time (if not more!) and 20% indulging in meat products. I did that for about a month, and I found that I don’t really miss meat. Therefore I have been eating primary plant based meals. To be honest, I feel great! I feel like very light, healthy, and I have a ton of energy. Stayed tuned for more on our dietary adventures.

I wanted to share a couple plant based recipes that we have been loving. Most of them are low fat, high carb, and plant based.

FullSizeRender
Vegan: Mexican stuffed peppers

A few Pro’s that we have noticed:

  • Less preparation. We don’t have to defrost and marinate meat anymore.
  • We can eat M O R E food. Plant based foods have high levels of nutrition but are not as calorically dense therefore we can eat mo’.
  • We have become more conscious, and use less fat’s for cooking.
  • We have so much fun cooking new meals and being creative with our meals.

Con’s

  • Limited options when we go out to eat. Eh. This is a minor con.

 

 

This nurse’s thoughts on nutrition…

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 5.22.37 PM

Constantly improving…

The best part about no longer being in college (besides no longer being a broke college student) is being able to learn what YOU want to learn! This has given us the opportunity to listen to a ton of TED talks, documentaries, and read plenty of books. We have been trying to learn as much as we can about this incredible world. We have dabbled in politics, finance, and nutrition.

One thing we have recently learned more about are the benefits of plant based diets. Since both of us are scientists at heart, it was hard to ignore the research. We figured we would take all the information we have learned and try to incorporate it into our every day lives and diet. (If your looking for great educational resources on nutrition check out: TED Talk: Chew on this & Vegucated)

My rant on nutrition

With a degree in Nursing and many nutrition classes under my belt, I think I’m fairly educated on what a balanced diet should look like. I believe that balance and moderation is the key to everything in life: food, alcohol, indulgences, work, finance, ext. I don’t know if I believe it’s 100% necessary to eliminate meat quite yet. There are a lot of nutrients in meat (such as B12, Iron, B6) that are also available in vegetables, but easier to obtain from meat. That doesn’t mean that you can not obtain them from vegetables, it just means you have to be educated and plan out your meals more precisely.

I would be fooling myself if I thought for a minute I could convince my carnivorous boyfriend to give up meat completely, especially cold turkey. I am so thankful for how awesome and supportive he is of me and all of my ideas. We are continually striving to improve our nutrition and our quality of life. The information we learned has made us aware of how what we eat impacts our environment, animals, and ourselves.

Although we are not ready to swear off meat just yet, I have come up with another idea. Many nutritionists say that you don’t have to eat perfect 100% of the time, if you eat healthy even 80% of the time, the other 20% has little impact on your overall health. So I figured we could apply this theory to eating a plant based diet. If we eat a vegetarian diet 80% of the time, that gives us the flexibility to still enjoy foods we love such as certain seafood & meat. That means out of 7 dinners a week, 5 of them should be vegetarian. Out of 21 meals a week (3 meals a day x 7 days a week), 16 of them should be vegetarian. I figured this way we would cut back our consumer demand for animal products, increase of fruit and vegetable consumption, decrease our cholesterol intake, and improve our health.

I was feeling pretty good about myself and this BRILLIANT idea I came up with. While watching Netflix TED Talks, I came across this talk:

I love this TED talk! Even though I wasn’t the first one to come up with this idea, I’m super excited to incorporate it into our diet and share it with everyone. The only constant in life is change. My approach is to embrace change, and strive to incorporate change into our live to make them better.

I’m also excited for the challenge of learning how to cook new vegetarian meals!

EXTRA RANT: I believe everyone’s diet should be specifically tailored to that individual, and what works for one may not work for the other. I also believe that you can lead a happy healthy life by being a vegetarian, vegan, or meat eater. Actually, I think labels for the way we eat is silly. As long as we eat a healthy nutritious diet that provides the appropriate amount of macro and micro nutrients to our bodies, who cares what we label it! Eat whatever you enjoy (in a healthy moderation), and don’t shame anyone because they don’t share your same “label”.

A few of this past weeks favorite vegetarian meals:

Quinoa breakfast bowl with poached egg & avocado

photo

 

Beetroot, walnut, and goat cheese spinach salad

DSC06797

 

My (almost vegan) light and fluffy pancakes

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Favorite foods: Breakfast edition

I love breakfast.

Sometimes, breakfast can become repetitive and boring (cereal, oatmeal, scrambled eggs). Although we still love our boring breakfast meals, we have been trying to be a little more creative with breakfast.

So I would like to share a few of our favorite breakfast dishes:

Reduced fat Quiche

IMG_4724

First I will start off with quiche. I didn’t realize how easy and healthy quiche could be! This is my version of a lower fat healthy quiche:

  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup of low fat milk
  • 2/3 cup-1 cup of low fat cheese {whatever you prefer: parmesan, mozzarella, swiss, cheddar, ext.}
  • spices {salt, peper, oregano, rosemary, thyme, paprika, chilli powder, basil, and/or parsley}
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • A handful of your choice of veggie
  • A handful of meat {usually I make veggie quiche, but sometimes we throw some ham in there}

I buy frozen reduced fat pastry at the store. Then I mix 2 eggs and 3 egg whites with a little bit of low fat milk and low fat cheese (whatever we have on hand). I season the eggs with a variety of spices (I pick the spice depending on what we are craving that day.) I slightly butter my glass baking dish, place the puff pastry, and pour in the egg mixture. Lastly, I add our favorite veggies: broccoli, asparagus, spinach, carrots, zucchini, ext. I pop this into the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 350°. You know it’s ready when the top of the quiche looks solid and slightly golden.

Yogurt breakfast bowls:

DSC05705

IMG_4668

Oh the possibilities! I love things like this that change slightly with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Plus, I think this is an easy way to get a ton of your required of nutrients for the day. Here’s what I put in mine:

  • 1 cup of greek yogurt {we buy the plain light greek yogurt}
  • 2 teaspoons of honey {or brown sugar}
  • 3 teaspoons of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • Toppings:
    • Any kind of whole grain {currently we have Millet puffs, and we use uncooked oatmeal as well, granola works great}
    • Any fruit that you enjoy
    • Any kind of nuts
    • Coconut flakes
    • Spices such as cinnamon

Mix the greek yogurt, honey, vanilla, and chia seeds in a bowl. Add your desired toppings, and ENJOY!

 

Coconut Rice & Pomegrante Porridge

DSC05728

So this recipe I actually found online. It was SO YUMMY! Also, it’s gluten free! If you want to check out the recipe click here  or click the picture.

Let me know if you have tried any of these before, or if there is something special you add to your food that we have to try!

Enjoy!

More Food!

Since this is my fifth post about food, I’m just going to jump into it!

Thanksgiving Dinner

This is a little late (considering it’s the second week of December), but this was our makeshift Thanksgiving dinner:

We couldn’t find turkey at our local grocery store, so we substituted it with chicken cordon bleu and  ham. We made a green bean casserole, carrots, mashed sweet potatoes with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, and regular mashed potatoes. Of course, the meal would not be complete without cinnamon apple sangria as a side.

 

Other meals we have been mastering include:

Lemon Chicken Piccata with whole grain pasta & capers

DSC05197

Our go to: Steak with mashed sweet potatoes and a veggie

DSC05562

We decided to take a try at the local fish: “John Dory”

DSC05170

Thanks for checking out our blog!

 

Increasing the Veggies!

So every week we try to brainstorm ways to make improvements to the meals we buy. The past two weeks we have been trying to focus on buying and incorporating more vegetables in our diet. Every week we have tried new vegetables that we normally wouldn’t have picked such as: artichoke, zucchini, and beats.  Other tweaks we have made over the past few weeks: transitioning to a lower calorie milk such as almond milk (that one is more of a tweak for me), eating more healthy snacks through the day (almonds, fruit, greek yogurt, ect.), and buying higher quality grass fed lean meats.

Here are a few of our past meals for our photo food diary:

Steak & Veggies

DSC05097

 

I made focaccia bread as an appetizer with an olive oil dipping sauce. Steak is self explanatory: grass fed beef seasoned with rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. For a side we had a roasted veggie medley of  beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and celery.

Steak and Veggie stir fry

DSC05094

Stir fry is a great way to throw a bunch of the veggies that you have left over for the week into a pan with a little bit of soy sauce. Here we had baby corn, peas, broccoli, and yellow peppers. For the noodles we used vietnamese vermicelli rice noodles. If you haven’t tried them before give it a shot! It’s a great alternative to regular pasta especially for those who are on a gluten free diet.

 

Mexican Burrito Bowl

DSC05139

This was probably one of my favorite meals of the week as well as the healthiest! Where do I start: corn, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, and breaded chicken over a bed of brown rice. For the breading  I mixed a small amount of flour with taco seasoning, coated the chicken, then lightly fried it in coconut oil. Super yummy.

 

We’ve learned that a common greeting everyone uses here is “Cheers.”

In the spirt of the kiwi’s: Cheers everyone!

 

Journey to Culinary Competence

Chad & I are trying to figure out a way to keep a virtual cook book of our favorite meals.

We figured we could do this by continuing to post about our journey to culinary competence on our blog. This way we will be able to look back and pick out a recipe we have made before. So here are a few of our most recent dishes:

We’ll start out with Chad’s favorite:

Sweet Chili Salmon

DSC04726

Our version of the recipe: Marinate the salmon in a mixture of 2 parts Sweet Thai Chili sauce (which we bought pre-made) and 1 part teriyaki sauce (also pre-made). We then cooked the salmon with this sauce on a skillet on medium heat. The sauce became slightly thicker when cooked and a little less spicy. We served the salmon over a bed of cous cous and broccoli.

This is the original recipe: Broiled Salmon With Thai Sweet Chili Glaze

Cous Cous Stuffed Mexican Peppers

DSC04833

Our version of the recipe: Cook the cous cous following the directions on the box. In the meantime, cut up tomatoes, green chillies (I used canned), and any other vegetables you like. Once the cous cous was finished cooking, I added in a little bit of organic taco seasoning and mixed it throughly. I poured the cous cous into a bowl then added the cut up tomatoes, green chillies, half a can of beans (I used a 4 bean mix), and a can of corn. I then scooped this mixture into the red peppers and put them into the oven for about 30 minutes on 350°F. A couple minutes before they were done, I sprinkled a little bit of mozzarella cheese on top. When they were ready to eat, we cut them in half and topped them off with a little bit of salsa and sour cream.

This is the original recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

I had a ton of left over cous cous and veggie mixture, so I scooped it into tupperware containers. I topped it off with some mozzarella cheese, cut up tomatoes, and put it aside for lunch the next day. When I ate it for lunch I added a little bit of salsa and sour cream on top. Yummy and pretty healthy!

This recipe was super easy and convenient to make in a time crunch. I made this for us before we rushed off to play soccer.

Cheater Pad Thai

DSC04698

Our version of the recipe: Buy a pack of rice noodles, cook according to the package instructions (super easy). We bought a pre-made version of pad thai sauce. We heated up the sauce on the skillet and then cooked the chicken in it. Next we added the noodles in, mixed it all up, and served it onto the plated. We scrambled and egg on top, and added a few green onions. TADA! Easiest Pad Thai ever.

Original recipe: Cheater Pad Thai

I know we omitted the crushed peanuts and bean sprouts, only because we forgot to pick them up from the store. It was still equally as good.

I’ve made Pad Thai sauce from scratch before and it turned out amazing, but I did not feel like buying all the ingredients this time. We have a limited amount of space in our pantry so I just took the easy way out.

Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Oatmeal

DSC04709

Our version of the recipe: I like to heat up milk (close to boiling) and then put in the oatmeal. Once the oatmeal is cooked, I almost always add a little bit of vanilla extract and brown sugar. From here the options are endless! This time we added dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Oh my gosh, it was so yummy.

Other things we put in our oatmeal: almond slivers, peaches, boysenberries, walnuts, apples, banana, dried apricots, pomegranate, and almost everything else.

Cheers from NZ everyone!

Putting a few Pinterest ideas into action

The past couple of day’s we’ve been relaxing and playing it low key because I pulled a muscle in my back. After a little bit of daily yoga and some hot tub action, my back should be good as new in a few days. In the meantime, we got a chance to practice our cooking skills and put Pinterest to work!  Here’s a few of our daily meals:

For breakfast we had spinach and egg bake over fresh ciabatta bread, with a side of fruit salad:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.57.01 AM

DSC04440

For lunch we had avocado and tomato quesadillas on whole grain wraps:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.57.31 AM

DSC04442

For dinner we used my cousin Kinga’s recipe for “Turkey Burgers.” Her’s are always AMAZING! The only problem was that no one at the grocery story knew what “turkey meat” was. So we went with plan B: ground beef. We made hamburgers with sheep feta, whole grain bread crumbs, onions and spices mixed in. On the side we made sweet potato fries and salad. I had mine over a bed of lettuce and Chad had his on ciabatta bread.

DSC04479DSC04500

My new hobby in NZ, aside from trying all of the wines, is to try every cafe’s cappuccinos and chai latte’s! Each one that I have had so far had been marvelous.

DSC04508

After I walked Chad to work this morning, I stopped by a little waterfront cafe for a Chai Tea Latte.

Na Zdrowie!