Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Pumpkin Pie Squares and Lentil Walnut Loaf

Hey, friends! I am super excited to be sharing some recipes on here after a long hiatus due to my competition diet. Yes, still on that. But I was itching to experiment in the kitchen and work my creativity in my favourite way: through food!

It was Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, and while everyone feasted on turkey, this vegan gal wanted to put something out there that would make omnivores remember how damn good veg-based food can be. I wanted to show my friends that whole plant ingredients can make up staple meals and that vegans can enjoy a delicious holiday just as much as anyone else, and maybe even feel a bit less bloat. (Although if I wasn't dieting I would be eating everyone under the table probably, lol.)

I wanted to make one staple protein dish and a dessert. A good old lentil loaf is a vegan staple for a lot of holidays. Usually it contains oats as a binder, and your regular holday spices like sage and rosemary... mmmm.

This lentil walnut loaf is made with a whole bunch of WHOLE FOOD ingredients - and it's gluten free as long as your oats are certified as so! It was so delicious, and I think it would have went very well with a cauliflower mash and vegan gravy, which I had no time to make. Here is the recipe:

Lentil Walnut Loaf (vegan + gluten free, with soy free option)

- 1 cup dry red lentils
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 to 2 tsp coconut oil
- 1/2 cup each finely chopped onion, carrots, and celery
- 1 cup walnuts, pulsed in a food processor into small pieces
- 1 cup rolled oats (used certified GF if necessary)
- 2 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 to 2 tsp rosemary
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp thyme
- 2 tbsp chia seeds + 6 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Organic ketchup, as needed

Preheat oven to 375.

1. Cook the lentils (using a slightly larger pot so you can add stuff in later) in the broth over a low simmer for 2-22 minutes, adding more water or broth as needed. Set aside and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the onion, carrot, and celery and sautee until onion is translucent. Let cool, and then stir into the pot with the cooled lentils.

3. Mix the chia and water and let it sit a couple minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except for the ketchup, including the set chia seeds which should look like a gel, to the pot with the lentils and veggies and stir well.

4. Lightly grease a loaf pan and put the mixture inside, pressing down to even it out. Squirt the ketchup on top in a zig zag pattern.

5. Bake the loaf for 35-40 minutes, or until it's quite nicely browned.

Serve with vegan gravy and cauliflower mash... delish!

And the dessert... ohhhh boy! I can't lie, I did lick my spoon a lot and I know it was a very naughty thing of me to do. My friends and family ate these right up. Such simple, whole ingredients. Low GI sweetener used was coconut nectar, and the only other sweetness is in that AMAZING crust, which I used as a crust for so many desserts. It's way better than some processed vegan crust, in my opinion.

Pumpkin Pie Squares (vegan gluten free, and mostly raw)

Crust ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
- 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt

For the squares:
- 750 ml can pumpkin puree (preferably organic)
- Coconut cream from one coconut milk can* 
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, measured softened
- 1/3 + 2 tbsp to 1/2 cup coconut nectar, to taste
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp sea salt 
For the toppings:
- Walnut pieces, coconut flakes, crushed nuts, cinnamon, etc

* For the coconut cream, just chill a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours, and then scoop out the cream at the top of the can when you open it! Save the water for smoothies.

1. In a food processor with an S blade, combine the crust ingredients and process until a sticky dough has formed.

2. In a square pan lined with parchment paper, press the crust evenly using your fingers, a spoon, or a pastry roller. 

3. Using a high powdered blender, combine all ingredients for squares and puree well. Taste to see if you want more sweetness and add coconut nectar as needed.

4. Pour the mixture into the pan with the crust. Use a flat spatula or spoon to even out the top. You can sprinkle any toppings on that you like.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and let set in the freezer overnight. Let it sit on the counter for a few minutes until it's slightly softened, then alice and enjoy!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Progress and some FAQ

This past Saturday marked 9 weeks until I hit the stage. That's just over 2 months until I bare all in a small bikini in front of a whole bunch of people... and it's pretty damn intimidating to say the least!

My progress has been awesome so far. I have been on track, but obviously I still have a while to go. I lost a total of 10 lbs now, but the weight loss is not the main goal. I want to lose fat (especially in my abs and legs) and hang on to the muscles I've been working hard to keep.

I've been getting lots of questions from people, so I thought I would answer some of them here for anyone reading this who may be considering doing a show themselves.

These are all just questions based on my own experience so far in doing my prep, which is not much since it's my first one ever. So hit up blogs like Sam's if you want someone a bit more experienced in vegan bodybuilding. :P

1. Are you barely eating/hungry all the time?

For the most part, no. I realized when I space out my small meals and measure them, I really am not ever ravenous and feel deprived. If I get caught up with work or something else comes up, yes I can go a bit longer between meals and feel hungry. If I do I will have an extra protein shake (just water and Vega) or some water-rich veggies and sauerkraut. 

2. How much weight do you plan on losing?

It's not about the weight loss or even the percentage of body fat. My coach is going by how my abs look (that's really how you can notice BF go down anyway). I have been losing about 2 pounds a week so far, but that will probably stop going down quite so rapidly. We'll see!

3. Do you get cheat meals?

I FINALLY am getting cheat meals!! Once a week I will be allowed to go nuts on as many calories as I can. I know many people are going to disagree with the whole cheat meal thing, but I am not one of them, so I say to each their own. Honestly, if you read my blog you know I crave healthy vegan food for like 90% of what I eat.

If you're curious, I'll probably be having lots of green poutine from Fresh (no crazy ingredients, and it's deep fried but it has GREENS on it, okay?!), and some some of dessert. I'll definitely post pics on my Instagram!

4. You can't have a drink occasionally? At all?

Yeah this part SUCKS. I would give up all cheat meals for one night on the town... lol. I'm just being honest. You really have to suck this one up because alcohol will make you store fat, and obviously it has a lot of calories.

5. How brutal are the workouts?

I honestly train my butt off all the time in general, but now I am seeing how proper and consistent nutrition and counting portions makes a huge difference to reveal my hard work. Also, my workouts have been much more consistent and focused on building the areas in need.

Normally I would work out 4-5 days a week, but I wouldn't do as much cardio as I am now, even though I am a fitness instructor for a HIIT style cardio class. I will always hate cardio on machines, but the leanness calls!

So finally, here are my progress pics... this is what 5 weeks of hard work looks like!

Happy with my midsection and shoulders the most! The legs are coming down but that cellulite persists. And for the record, I am happy with my body no matter what. I'm not saying I was fat before. But this show has a specific goal, so I am pushing for that in the next 8.5 weeks!

Have a good hump day, guys. Get your workout in!

xo Tij