I have spent most of my time on this blog talking about how I was going to take my meat loving family from eating lots of meat to eating plant based. Happily, it has become second nature for us now. I really can't imagine ever eating animal protein again. JD is totally down with the plants, and although he still struggles a bit, he is at least 95% plant based now. An egg or 2 sneak in once and a while, as do some cookies, but he is doing great and loves the way he feels. The boys still have meat here and there, but eat a crazy amount of plants and enjoy lots of plant based meals that they never would have gone near before. It is time for this blog to change its form a bit, as recounting our day to day would be monotonous... "ate a plant based dinner, no one complained blah, blah, blah". The struggle was real, but now it is hardly a struggle. Soooo.... from now on, I will be posting about my bird Ollie and how cute he is and how many seeds he eats. I'm kidding!!! Actually, I will be posting weekly now and will include recipes and support that I think will be most helpful if you are starting and/or continuing your plant based journey. I also finally have a way to subscribe to my blog (just to the right of this), so you will be notified each week when I throw my 2 cents out there.
First, I would like to share a recent experience which I think fits in well to the "New year/New you" vibe as people are often making it a resolution (again.. and again.. and again...) to lose weight. Before the holidays, I had the pleasure of working with a group of nurses who all work the night shift. They had been doing an amazing job taking care of others, but not as great a job taking care of themselves. All of them had a decent amount of weight to lose and were meeting with (my husband and I) to learn how. My husband JD spoke to them about taking care of their minds and souls (he is the creator and producer of Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, I Used to be Fat, My Big Fat Revenge and very passionate about helping people), and I spoke to them about how to get started on a plant based diet. They would do a 10 day plant based challenge and then weigh in. To say they ran with it is an understatement. They have been posting pictures of their meals and snacks and have been super creative with what they bring to work. They have believed in themselves and supported each other and blazed through the holidays eating a whole new diet of plants. After 10 days we checked in with them to see how they were doing and check their weights. It was astounding...one lost 14lbs, one lost 12 pounds, three lost 9 pounds, one lost 6 and one 4 pounds... in 10 days!!! I see this time and time again when people start eating this way. The weight flies off without even trying to lose weight or "dieting". People always come to me newly eating plant based and are so nervous saying, "I am eating too much food!! There is no way I can lose weight this way." Time and time again, they do. The food is nutrient dense, not calorie dense so it is so filling. Whole food plant-based is the key though, as there are plenty of ways to eat junk food and still eat a vegan diet. Oreos are vegan, so is coconut oil and too many people hold dear the misconception that this oil is magical so eat way too much of the stuff. It is loaded with fat and calories, and no, not the good kind of fat. All of the good studies show this (save the couple that the coconut oil industry did). Bummer. Believe me, I wish it were great for you, I would be drinking the stuff. I love the taste of coconut oil, but only splurge once in a while when I have a vegan dessert. Same goes for olive oil. I use it very sparingly. OK, this is not a blog about oil today, but vegan junkfood, and going crazy with the oil are 2 ways to NOT lose weight on a plant food diet. They don't even fit into a WHOLE FOOD plant based diet. Bread is another downfall I should mention. Stick with very grainy breads and brown rice or quinoa pastas and you will be successful. If you are trying to lose weight, limit portions to 2 of cooked grains and pastas max and 2 slices of bread a day (up it a cup or a slice if you exercise a lot).
Consider adding to your resolutions to go whole food plant based for 10 days and let me know how you feel. I guarantee it is a life changer (and a life extender). For some, the first week or can be a detox week so you may feel not so good. From then on though, it just gets better and better!! And the weight loss follows. Always. And the numbers can be astounding!
Go back 2 blogs to my Getting Started on a Plant Based diet for lots more info.
Here is my recipe of the week. I make it ALL the time and it is very filling and extremely DELICIOUS!!!
RECIPE OF THE WEEK No boil brown rice noodle veggie lasagne 14-oz. pkg. firm organic tofu, well drained. ½ cup chopped fresh basil 2 t oregano 2 cloves garlic, peeled (I don't use, but do if you like garlic) 2 Tbs. lemon juice 1 tsp. salt 3 T nutritional yeast ½ tsp. red pepper flakes 4 medium-size zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 cups) (I use a mandoline and do it lengthwise) 1 very thinly sliced large eggplant (mandoline best here as well) 4 c spinach leaves 4 cups marinara sauce (use a good sauce, it makes a difference. Make sure it does not have too much sugar or oil...) Package of brown rice lasagna noodles (I get these at whole foods)(9 oz.)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a deep 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Combine tofu, basil, oregano, garlic, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes in food processor; blend until smooth and similar to ricotta in texture.
2. Spread 4 Tbs. marinara sauce over bottom of prepared deep baking dish. Cover with layer of noodles, overlapping slightly, half of tofu mixture and layer the zucchini, spinach, and eggplant. Top with another layer of noodles, tofu, eggplant, spinach and zucchini, and 3/4 cup sauce. Finish with another layer of noodles, veggies and 3/4 c sauce then you can sprinkle the top with Daiya cheese. Drizzle 1 cup water over the lasagna. It stays moist and you ensure that the noodles and veggies cook through.
4. Cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350 for 1 hour. Sometimes it takes longer. I like the noodles a bit crisp on the edges so I usually go longer and take the foil off for a bit at the end of baking it. Keep checking to make sure the noodles are getting nice and soft. After removing from the oven, let rest 10 minutes before serving. I like refrigerating and serving the next day. It tastes even better. It freezes amazingly well too.
5. I like to serve topped with Rao's marinara sauce. Just a few tablespoons really give it a great taste. I don't use it in the whole lasagna because there is a lot of sugar and oil in that sauce. Trader Joe's has an organic marinara which is quite good.