Friday, 15 February 2013

Protein "bowls" to fuel your day!

I have been on a huge smoothie kick these days. They are nutrient dense, fast, delicious and very versatile. What more could you want? I’ve also been loving making them a little thicker so I can eat them with a spoon. I just feel very satiated after actually eating my meal/snack as opposed to drinking it down. And I love to add protein powder to make them a complete meal. So, I call ‘em my “protein bowls”.

Now, I’ve really been going wild with these. I start with either my Vega One chocolate (which is absolutely freaking out-of-this-world delicious) or my Sun Warrior vanilla flavour (the Warrior Blend), add a liquid base, and then combine with fruits, veggies and any other superfood additions. Here is a step-by-step of making the perfect “bowl”:

1.      Choose your flavour preference
-Chocolatey (think milkshake-style)
      -Fruity (very berry, anything?)
      -Creamy (like eating ice cream…)
      -Tropical (pina colada bowl, anyone?)
      -Refreshing and light (cool as a cucumber… in fact, great ingredient idea!)
2.      Start with a base
-Coconut water
-Coconut milk
-Nut milk (*homemade or store bought – almond, Brazil nut, etc)
-Chilled flavoured tea (brew concentrated tea the night before, and chill in the fridge. I like to use anything chocolatey from Teavana, and use about 2 teaspoons per cup!)
-Fresh juice

3.      Add your fave (vegan) protein powder!
Not always necessary, but it is quite nice! Not only does it add some sweetness and flavour, but your smoothie gets nice and thick

4.      Pair your fruits and veggies wisely
-Tropical fruits will mask pretty much the taste of any bitter green, in the right ratio (experiment with it, to taste)
-Beets and chocolate pair very well
-Cucumber and spinach are neutral enough to be refreshing with only a touch of sweetness needed
-Beware of too much sweet fruit! Sugar spike alert! Think about how many sweet fruits you’re adding
-Some veggies ain’t never meant for this kinda thing, y’all. If you find a recipe for a cabbage smoothie that tastes good, I want it

5.      Some extra superness
-Organic coconut flakes
-Raw honey
-Goji berries
-Spirulina (careful now… only add about a teaspoon I would say, and get the tropical fruits in there!)
-Cacao nibs
5. My extra little tips…
-Frozen fruit or ice will make it cold and deliciously refreshing, like ice cream!
-You can start off by adding a little liquid, and feed more through the tube as needed to reach desired consistency
-Food processors are good if you want something a little chunkier, and blenders are good if you like it very homogenized and smooth

Finally, my fave recipes!

Green bowl:
-1 small avocado
-water from one coconut
-1/2 a frozen banana
-handful of spinach

Pie filling in a bowl:
-1/2 a gala apple
-1/2 a steamed sweet potato
-Vega One chocolate
-1 cup nut milk
-1 tsp pumpkin spice
-Cinnamon to taste

Pink heart:
-¾ cup frozen strawberries
-Sun Warrior vanilla
-1/2 to 1 cup Coconut milk
-1 tsp Ruth’s Chia Goodness

Coconutty delight:
-3/4 cup coconut mango mate tea (concentrated, chilled overnight)
-Vega One Chocolate
-1 tsp raw honey
-1/2 a frozen banana
-1/2 an avocado
-Cinnamon to taste

Cheat Days

I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “cheat day”. For some people who consider themselves health-oriented, this term simply means they give themselves a day of leeway from their regularly clean diet. I’ve been seeing photos galore on Instagram and Facebook of some people’s cheats. I have been thinking a lot about this term these days, and I’m not so sure I’m all for this concept. To me, “cheat day” implies that you eat food you don’t like every day, and your tasty food on the day you “cheat”.

There is no reason why “healthy” should be synonymous with “bland”, “unflavourful” or “unappealing”! Conversely, the food some view as the good stuff (enjoyed on cheat days) is what we would generally put in the junk category. Maybe I’m a freak of nature, but I adore my food every day and every meal, and rest assured it is not the junky kind.

And you know what? If you don’t love what you eat every day, you need to change that! This kind of diet is not a long term solution. Goals which are centred on lifestyle change versus dieting can be maintained for years to come. Separating something into the naughty category also tends to make us want it more, which will bite you in the (growing) butt.

Do I eat whatever I want with no restraint? Do I only crave salad greens and caffeine-free teas day in and day out? And do I go and eat food-like substances loaded with fake ingredients which come from a box which has a shelf life that will outlive me? The answer to all of the above is NO! Look, I adore dessert a whole freaking lot, but I really wouldn’t go and eat even an organic and raw vegan dessert every day. I also love coffee, but I’ve learned to limit that to once in a while, so it can serve me well when I need it. I believe the key is to always have food which serves you, but some serves you best when it’s enjoyed only occasionally.

So, it is my suggestion that the junky food people “cheat” with be transformed into something which is really not cheating at all! One of my favourite things to do is “healthify” junk-style faves. Some suggestions:

-Pizza lovers:
Use a brown rice tortilla and top with some tomato sauce, Daiya cheese and grilled veggies, and add anything else your heart desires! Bake at 375 for about 10 or 15 minutes.

-BLT babes:
Get some tempeh bacon strips, lots of fresh and organic greens, some Veganaise and toast your fave bread (or wrap in a tortilla)…voila. A cruelty-free BLT! Also great on a bed of lettuce.

-I’ll have (healthy) fries with that:
Cut up some sweet potatoes into fries. Toss with your equal parts organic olive oil and umeboshi vinegar, add some minced garlic, cayenne and fresh pepper, and bake for about 25-30 minutes at 375. Serve with your fave veggie burger. Yum.

-Vegan Chick-Un Parmesan
Buy some vegan chicken breasts, coat generously with tomato/pasta sauce, top with Daiya cheese (use more than one kind if you got it!) and sprinkle nutritional yeast, fresh pepper and minced garlic on top. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Serve on top of brown rice pasta with more sauce.