food

Oatmeal power-up cookies (vegan, healthy, easy!)

These oatmeal power-up cookies are vegan, healthy, and easy to make!

Lately I find myself constantly on the go. I know a healthy breakfast is a must, but it’s frequently one of those things that’s scrapped as I hit snooze and then scramble to get out the door to work, appointments, and all of the other stops on my daily agenda. Hence this healthy oatmeal power-up cookie recipe, which I crafted on a whim over the weekend so I’d have a healthy option for breakfast on the go once the chaos of the workweek hit.

This isn’t your childhood oatmeal cookie recipe. With added nutrients from kasha, wheat germ, and flaxseed, and half the sugar of traditional recipes, these oatmeal power-up cookies are a great alternative to the sugary, expensive prepackaged breakfast bars sold in grocery stores. And yes, they still taste great with a cold glass of (plant-based) milk for dessert. (more…)

A taste of meal planning with Hello Fresh

(Disclosure: post contains affiliate links.)

If you’ve surfed the Internet, opened a magazine, or turned on the TV lately, chances are you’ve seen an ad for a meal delivery service. The latest in the wave of subscription boxes, meal delivery boxes like Hello Fresh, Home Chef, and Blue Apron are popping up to offer takeout-weary consumers an option to create healthy, gourmet-level dishes at home, with no shopping or fancy meal prep required.

I got a chance to try Hello Fresh last month and of course you know I have thoughts! So let’s get into a summary of how the subscription works, what I got, and what I thought overall.

Even Ezio was excited to get a taste of my Hello Fresh order!

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Giveaway: Aloha Superfood Dark Chocolate

Win a six pack of Aloha superfood chocolate!Yay, it’s the weekend! I’m excited to spend some time curled up on the couch with a good book and some homemade chocolate chip cookies. Unfortunately I can’t give away a plate of cookies here on the blog—I’m pretty sure they’d be fuzzy before they made it through the post to the winner!—but I’m giving away something else delicious instead: a bundle of Aloha Superfood Dark Chocolate bars.

If there’s a way to make these bars better for you, I’m not sure what it is: they’re vegan, kosher, USA-made, non-GMO, free of soy and gluten, and made with fair trade ingredients. They’re loaded with superfoods like wheatgrass and moringa for a nutritional boost. Oh, and they’re pretty tasty, too!

One reader will win a six-pack of original dark bars; you can enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Impatient? Head over to the Aloha website and order your own six-pack in original dark, hazelnut & fig, macadamia & coconut, tropical twist, or cereal crunch. You can use the code “MARTHA37” to get $20 off your first order!

The giveaway is open internationally and will close next Sunday. Good luck!

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Recipe: oven-roasted potatoes and veggies

Oven-roasted potatoes, carrots and onions in an Italian dressingAutumn means cooler weather and a return to cozier things, including food: oven dinners, hearty meals and lots of comfort food! Accordingly, I wanted to share a recipe for oven-roasted potatoes and vegetables that’s become a bit of an autumn staple in our house. It’s easy to make—there’s almost no way you can goof it up, short of taking it out of the oven an hour early—and once it’s in the oven you don’t have to check, stir or uncover anything, so it can basically sit unattended all afternoon while you prep other dishes or just relax with a book and a cup of tea.

Read on for the full recipe and how I like to turn this dish into a main course for Thanksgiving!

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Restaurant-worthy meals at home: how to dress up canned soup and a basic sandwich

Like many people these days, and especially with the husband going back to school, we’re trying to stretch our budget a little further each month. One of the areas we’ve really cut back is eating out/delivery–takeaway Thai, pizzas, lunch out while running errands. Not necessarily the most fun or easy, but I’m learning that there are lots of little ways to recreate our favorite restaurant items at home, or dress up simple meals so they feel a little more “luxe” on the weekend.

One lunch meal that’s easy to recreate is a soup and sandwich combo. Condensed canned soup isn’t exactly the most appealing thing, but I’ve found you can easily dress up a basic tin instead of spending a lot of money on a fancy packaged soup. The same goes for your sandwich–a few mix-ins make all the difference between a basic lunch and one that feels like a takeaway from your favorite cafe.

Fancy up canned tomato soup with spices and almond milk, and add some unexpected fillings to your grilled cheese for a restaurant-worthy combo.

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Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe (book review)

'Vegan Holiday Cooking from the Candle Cafe' (book review)(Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. However I was not compensated for writing this review and as always all opinions are my own.)

Vegan holiday cooking doesn’t have to be hard; it can be fun and tasty and please everyone at the table, meat-eaters and gourmands included! This book makes it simple. Crafted by the chefs at the trio of Candle eateries in New York City, this cookbook is divided up into ten menus: Super Bowl (or gametime recipes), Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, Passover, Easter, Cindo de Mayo, Fourth of July barbecue, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. At first glance covering so many different holidays throughout the year might seem a little odd: many cookbooks only focus on the traditional trifecta of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

However, there’s always been a big gap between the recipes available for non-vegan vs. vegan holiday cooking. I get a variety of magazines that feature seasonally-themed recipes and entertaining guides, and they’re seldom easy to adapt to a vegan table. Easter is all about eggs; Memorial Day and Fourth of July barbecues mean burgers; game time means cheesy nachos; and so on. This cookbook gives you recipes for those events and more.

Plus, lots of the recipes feature here would be great for everyday dinners and will impress even your non-vegan friends. Black bean tacos? Sweet fried dumplings? Roasted squash soup? All would be easy enough to whip up for a weeknight dinner yet look and feel fancy enough for a special occasion.

Lots of big, bright photos will make you hungry just flipping through this book. The recipes are laid out in an easy-to-follow format and the ingredient lists are largely made up of items that can be found at any well-stocked grocery store. (A few, like seitan or arrowroot powder, will require a trip to a natural health food store.)

This cookbook is a must for anyone who loves entertaining, whether you’re totally new to the world of vegan holiday cooking or are a seasoned pro. There are even seasonally appropriate cocktail recipes, and of course some cookie recipes for the Christmas cookie exchange! Yum!

Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe (hardcover, 176 pages), by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos and Jorge Pineda. Published 2014 by Ten Speed Press. Genre: cooking, vegan food, entertaining. Five out of five stars.

24-day diet challenge update

Unsplash Glen Carrie

(photo by Glen Carrie via Unsplash)

I’ve been promising to post about my diet for a while now, and I finally bothered to sit down and write up a meal plan! I’m in the middle of a 24-day cleanse challenge with a girlfriend and so far I’ve had great results.

A lot of people hear the word “cleanse” and automatically think of green juices, liquid diets, taking lots of pills and laxatives, etc. This isn’t any of those. It’s based around healthy, whole foods, lots of water, and a lack of the junk we typically inhale. You can take whatever vitamin supplements you wish. If you like replacing the occasional meal with a protein smoothie you can. But at the core, it’s just healthy, simple foods–lots of lean protein and vegetables–and no processed food. Simple!

On the cleanse you cut out:

  • Coffee, soda, alcohol, and any other sugary drinks (like juice or sugared tea)
  • Processed food (chips, packaged foods or “fast food”)
  • Fried food and any fatty add-ons like creamy dips and dressings
  • White sugar (basically anything with added sugar)
  • White flour (bread, pasta, etc.)
  • Most dairy
  • Red meat

 

Instead you eat:

  • Lean protein (tofu is perfect for me–my friend is eating lean chicken and Greek yogurt but obviously I don’t eat those)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Complex carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, etc.)
  • Healthy fats such as nuts, beans, hummus, etc.

 

You also drink a lot of water. As a general rule you take your body weight, divide that number in half, and drink that many ounces of water per day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll drink 75 ounces of water each day.

Each day you have three meals based around a lean protein (like tempeh), a vegetable (or fruit for breakfast), and a complex carb (like sweet potatoes or quinoa). You also get three small snacks (of 200 calories or less) and endless cups of unsweetened tea and water. Here’s a sample meal plan from a recent workday:

  • 30 minutes before breakfast: green tea with lemon, no sugar
  • Breakfast: oatmeal* with a banana and a dab of peanut butter
  • Mid-morning snack: carrots and hummus
  • Lunch: veggie stirfry with tempeh; berries for dessert; more tea
  • Snack: apple
  • Dinner: large spinach salad with quinoa (for protein–could also use chickpeas or tempeh) and diced veggies; fruit for dessert
  • Snack: glass of warm almond milk

 

*I mix oatmeal with flax, wheat germ and chia seeds and shake it up in a large container so it’s premixed and ready to cook in the microwave. It’s tastier than plain oatmeal and gives you a nice health boost.

Obviously I’m eating a lot, but amazingly enough, I’ve lost ten pounds in the past ten days. I can’t say it’s because I’ve upped my activity level, either, because I’m being as lazy as ever (hey, there are books to be read!). Since starting this diet I have so much more energy and I feel so much better. I thought I would miss donuts, noodles and tons of coffee with tasty sugary creamer in it, but I don’t.

By contrast earlier this year when I got in a rut and was not eating healthy at all, a typical day might include…

  • Three or four cups of coffee with flavored creamer
  • Toast
  • Fritos and an apple (at least I tried to be a little healthy) for a snack
  • Teriyaki noodles for lunch; more coffee or an energy drink; some kind of dessert
  • A donut or other “pick-me-up” for a snack
  • Pasta, French Toast, mac n cheese, or some other similar comfort food for dinner

 

Very little in the way of vegetables and fruits, not enough lean protein, and way too many carbs and processed foods. It’s no wonder I was sluggish and cranky. The weekends were even worse, with fried foods, soda and extra desserts thrown into the mix. I was still eating vegan, I just wasn’t being a very health-conscious vegan.

A big part of this diet has been learning to swap out my less-healthy old favorites for better options. Once a week I’ll still treat myself to my old favorite, pasta, but instead of a big bowl of white pasta with garlic bread on the side I have a small bowl of whole-wheat pasta with an extra-chunky veggie sauce and a salad instead of bread. I’m drinking tea instead of coffee. I spread a little peanut butter on a banana instead of eating a plate of toast.

How much I eat also depends on the day. If I have a busy workday and feel I need to up my protein intake, but don’t have time for food prep, I’ll mix up a vegan protein shake. If I’m at home all day and I’m not that hungry, I’ll sip lots of tea and graze on fruits and veggies instead of forcing myself to eat a big meal. I listen to my body and eat more or less according to what it’s telling me.

Another key has been learning to “arc” my meals according to the rhythm of the day. I used to eat very little until I got home from work, when I would load up on pasta, French Toast or other “comfort foods”. Now I try to get most of my carbs in the first half of the day, when I really need to power up my energy (and admittedly, my mood). I also aim to start the day with a boost of protein and a little fat, since these help with energy and tamping down hunger. As I shift into the second half of the day, I’ll shift to lighter snacks/meals based around fruits and veggies. By the end of the day I’m not really hungry or if I do need a little something, I can have a tiny snack and be happy.

So that’s it! Simple, really. I still crave potato chips, bread, desserts and lattes now and then, but the longer I stick to my protein/veggie/complex carb system of filling out my plate, the easier it gets.

Any questions? Anything I didn’t cover?