It was a dad and the kids weekend. For my wife's birthday she gets to go off to a scrap booking retreat and spend the whole day scrap booking with all meals provided. It's a cool treat and she totally deserves it!!
Of course, hanging out with kids means they become guinea pigs for my recipe experiments. Tonight I decided potato soup sounded good. I didn't have a specific recipe but decided to kind of throw my own recipe together and put a cheesy touch to it. Here's what I came up with and, I have to say, it's pretty good! The kids loved it and I will be making it again as we get closer to the cold weather!
Cheesy Potato Soup
Prep and Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
2 cups vegetable broth
4 large potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pinch black pepper
2 Tbsp. and 2 tsp. flour
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. corn starch
1) Put vegetable broth, potatoes, onion, parsley, salt and pepper into large pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 18-20 min or until potatoes are soft.
2) In a separate bowl, mix flour, milk, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, garlic powder and corn starch.
3) Once potatoes are soft, add in mixture from bowl and simmer for another 5 minutes.
The other night I came home and my dear bride was running off to a meeting which meant I was in charge of dinner. The process for me to make dinner means looking through the cupboards for something EASY! So what's easy, when you are eating a plant based diet and you can't throw in a frozen burrito or frozen pizza in the oven or eat mac and cheese? Well, after perusing my cupboards and seeing what I had on hand I came up with three choices for my kids. All three choices were easy to make (less than 30 min) and I had the ingredients on hand.
Choice #1: Amazing chili
Choice #2: Pita Bread Pizza
Choice #3: Mexican wraps
The kids chose Pita Bread pizza so I turned the oven on to 400 degrees. Grabbed a bag of Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Pita bread. Grabbed a jar of Trader Joe's Pizza sauce and spread it on the Pita Bread. Grated some mozzarella cheese on the kids pizza's. Added pepperoni to the kids pizza (yes, we let them have an occasional meat and cheese binge). For my pizza, I skipped the cheese and put a layer of 50/50 salad mix (spinach and baby romaine), then some onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, broccoli slaw and bell pepper. I threw them all in the oven for about 15-17 minutes and voila, we were eating! Total prep time was less than 10 min, with cook time of 15-17 min, a few minutes for the pizza's to cool and we were eating in yummy dinner. Who says dinner can't be fast! Keep in mind, even if the kids would have chosen one of the other choices, total time until eating is less than 30 minutes.
The key to being ready for quick dinners in situations like this is to make sure you keep a stock of certain ingredients on hand. For the Amazing Chili, it's ranch seasoning, taco seasoning, two cans of chopped tomatoes and 3 different cans of beans. If you want some meat texture in the chili you can also add Smart Ground. For the Pita Bread pizza, you just need a bag of pita bread, some pizza sauce and whatever vegetables you have handy to pile on top of your pizza. Finally, for the mexican wraps, I use Trader Joe's Indian Flat Bread (Lavash), smash up some pinto or black beans with salsa as a spread and then whatever veggies sound good. Wrap it all up and throw it in the oven. All of these are quick, easy, delicious and each have tons of variations by changing the veggies you include!
I've been going through my blog to-do's and came across two things that are long overdue for sharing. The first is a recipe from a plant based potluck we had earlier in the summer. The dish is called Soy Bean Chili and was brought by a good friend of mine Raj. He promised to get me the recipe, and he did, but I'm just getting around to posting it. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of his excellent chili but here's the recipe if you're interested!
The second to-do was to get a success story posted from a friend and fellow plant based advocate. Last summer I worked as an Interim IT Director for our Ridgecrest (Cerro Coso Community College) college campus. One of my good friends and employees was a man named Jeremy. During the first few weeks of me working at the college he learned about my diet (mainly because he watched me bring in all my healthy food). One night I got a call from Jeremy and he asked if I would come share my diet with his wife (Laura). I was a little reluctant because I didn't know if she was truly interested or whether he was pushing this on her. Well, when I showed up, she had a notepad and asked me to share my story. I did and she took notes the whole time. She started a plant based diet the very next day and here is her story. If you need motivation to stick with the diet or if you need motivation to get on the diet, read this story. Real results with a real person!!
If you have a success story from being on a plant based diet that you would like to share, please send it to me ande
When trying to get as many greens as possible, I'm also always trying to find or make new salad dressings. Recently I've been quite interested in playing around with chipotle related sauces and dressings. I love the chipotle flavor and when done just right, it gives a little kick but with surprisingly wonderful flavor. A little note on chipotle peppers, do you know what a chipotle pepper is? I didn't until recently when I looked it up and found out it is just a jalepeno pepper that has been smoke dried.
Usually when making a creamy dressing, I've used Mori-Nu silken tofu. The silken tofu works in place of sour cream and I've used this method to make Ranch dressing in the past with reasonably good results. The one problem with using tofu is it just seems to have a "taste" that I don't care for in a dressing. The other day, I got the idea of trying soy yogurt instead. It's a little easier to work with and maybe it wouldn't have the "taste" that bothered me even though it is still soy based.
My first recipe with plain soy yogurt is my stab at a Chipotle Dressing. Yes, all the amounts are completely my own, completely from scratch and I was truly winging it. I still think it could use a little work and each person may want to tweak the seasonings to their own liking. TIP: Save bottles from bought salad dressings to be used for your own creations.
Todd's Chiptole Salad Dressing
1 cup plain soy yogurt (I use WholeSoy & Company brand)
1/3 cup of soy milk (rice milk, almond milk or similar could be used)
1/2 tsp. chiptole powder (if you have dried chipotle peppers, try one of those first and then increase to your liking)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. agave (or other sweetener)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp.onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Braggs Aminos
1 1/2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
Mix all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!
Notes: I added the agave early and decided I didn't like the addition of a sweetener. To ovset the sweetener, I had to add the rice vinegar. You may be able to eliminate both those ingredients in this recipe to get a better result (the rice was kind of an "undo" of the agave).
For my readers, if you haven't seen this, it's worth the hour to check it out! Dr. Sanjay Gupta did a 1-hour special on CNN investigating whether diet and the latest diagnostic tests are enough to prevent a heart attack. He's objective and looks at both sides of the discussion and ultimately advocates for a plant-based diet.
Note: Another way I stay excited about my diet is to constantly look at recent research, documentaries, fellow bloggers and by sharing my enthusiasm for the diet with others. It works, give it a try!!
We all have those moments when in the span of a few seconds where we have a choice....do I have the Reeses Peanut Butter cup or not? [substitute Reese's Peanut Butter cup with whatever food is tempting you] Our mind starts to battle, "I would only have one", then your food angel conscious says, "Yes, but one will lead to two" and your mind responds with, "But what is one piece of candy in the spectrum of all the meals I will have this week?" and then your food angel conscious says, "Don't do it, you'll regret it".......so on and so forth until you ultimately make a decision one way or the other (I admit it, usually the Peanut Butter Cup is eaten).
So here's a simple strategy to help resist the temptation. Try to picture in your mind the post-eating-it experience:
-a piece of fruit or handful of raisins
-a piece of toast with some low fat fruit spread
-a (legal) fig newton
Now go eat the healthy alternative and be done.
Another strategy is as soon as I get the urge to eat something unhealthy, go find something to do immediately. Re-arrange your sock drawer, tidy up your desk, start the next load of laundry, read a book, play with your kids, whatever....just basically force your brain to change the subject.
Ok....so the strategy isn't perfect but it's what helps me....most of the time! :-)
The thought of a basic salad with a little dressing on just seems so boooooorrrriiiiing! So when I started this diet and the recommendation was to start as many meals as possible with a salad, I was a little resistant. The problem is, I can tell when I'm not getting enough leafy greens in my diet and the perfect fix is a big bowl of leafy greens. Now that I've been on a plant based diet for over a year, I've found some better ways to make my salads more exciting. Here are some strategies I use to keep it interesting and different with every salad....
First, variety is the spice of life but this is especially true when it comes to salad dressings. Don't box yourself into a corner by only thinking of traditional salad dressings, think of salad dressings as ANY sauce that can be put on a salad (try BBQ sauce, oil free of course, it's really good!). For example, one of my favorite dressings on my salads is Trader Joe's General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce. It's tangy, sweet, spicy and excellent on a salad, and you don't need much to make it good. There are a handful of oil free salad dressings that can be purchased at Trader Joe's or even your regular grocery store. Trader Joe's also has a Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette that is a salad dressing that is oil-free and wonderful! Albertsons carries a brand called Maple Grove Farms of Vermont and their Fat Free Honey Dijon is good as is their Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette. Finally, there are always homemade salad dressings you can play around with to adjust to your liking. One of my favorite bloggers, Wendy, over at the Healthy Girls Kitchen blog, just posted a request for some more ideas for homemade salad dressing,tons of great ideas!
Now for some ideas for creating that wonderful salad. Start with more than one type of lettuce. Iceberg is worthless, it is mostly water and has very little nutritional value. Instead go for spinach, romaine, collard greens, kale, swiss chard any of the really good leafy green lettuces. Next add your normal favorite toppings like carrots, tomato, mushroom, sprouts, peas, corn, bell pepper or any other veggie you enjoy on your salad. Next I add a grain. Sometimes this is steamed brown rice, sometimes it's whole wheat pasta of different kinds, or try quinoa, millet, barley, just choose one and throw it on your salad. Finally, I like to add about half a can of beans. I like black beans, pinquito beans, garbanzo beans, whatever tastes good to you. Make sure to rinse the beans and get off as much of the sodium as possible.
Now pour on that favorite dressing and ENJOY! This salad has it all, the necessary vitamins in the leafy greens other vitamins in the additional colorful veggies, a little carbs in your grain and some protein in your beans. I promise you, if you eat a big bowl of salad with all these elements you will NOT leave the table hungry. Also, it seems like I don't get that afternoon sleepy spell as bad when I have one of these salads for lunch. Give it a try....let me know what you think....it just may be the thing to get you loving your salads again!!
One of the easiest ways to mess up any diet is to snack on the wrong things. Maybe you've done a great job of planning your meals but all of a sudden, between meals you get hungry. It's still two hours until your next "planned" meal but you are starving. So you start thinking about the Snickers bar in the snack machine. Or maybe it's the donuts sitting in the break room. All of these sound good but are a nightmare for a diet. So how do I deal with this problem? Have good snacks available!!
When making my lunch for work, I always include extra food for snacks. In a minute I will share some of my favorite snack ideas but first, there are going to be times when I forget to bring a snack with my lunch. Because I know these times will happen, I have "backup" snacks in my desk or cabinet at work. These snacks need to be things easily stored for long periods of time.
Basic snacks with a decent shelf life:
I'm sure you can think of many other snacks that would work but these are some of my favorites. I hope this helps and feel free to share your favorites in the Comments section for this post.
I've been REALLY lazy and un-inspired about updating the blog recently. I haven't lost my passion about eating right and getting healthy, I was just having problems figuring out exactly where I wanted my blog to go. In the past, it's been about recipes and an occasional link to a news article or research.
After much thought,I've decided I'm adjusting the focus of my blog and intend to offer more tips and ideas for helping people new to the the diet, stick with the diet every day. We all get in ruts, we are all busy, we all have our moments of weakness so I would like to share how I deal with eating a plant based diet on a daily basis regardless of all the things that could discourage me, distract me or overwhelm me. I will still include recipes but not on every post. I may occasionally go on little tangents and talk about exercise, going to the doctor (or not) and how to enjoy life more. The whole philosophy can be summed up in three words....I call it The Plant Experience.
The Plant Experience may vary from person to person but in general the theme is to move towards a whole foods, plant based diet and significantly reduce or eliminate added oil in your diet. One thing you will find after successfully changing your diet, you then start to look at other areas of your life to improve. My goal is to share my experience as I plod forward and I hope it inspires you to make changes in your life also!
About the Author
Hello, my name is Todd Coston. This site is a dedicated to my journey on a plant based diet. I'm passionate about the benefits of this diet and share my thoughts, resources and recipes through this site. I would love to hear from you, so drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Plant Based Blogs/Sites:
Happy Healthy Long Life
Healthy Girl's Kitchen
Rocky Road Run