weight loss challenge update

I recently wrote about the weight loss challenge my boyfriend and I are doing together. We took a hint from The Biggest Loser and decided a more fair measurement would be percentage weight lost rather than weight in pounds. Unsurprisingly, he won last week (but only by 0.2%!) and this meant he was able to dole out a week-long punishment to me. He said it was difficult to find a punishment because I’m (usually) so healthy, but he zeroed in on my one weakness aside from sweets (which, let’s be honest, he’s probably saving for next time): coffee.

The punishment: No coffee on days I don’t work out. Obviously, the end goal here is to make me work out every day this week so I can have my precious coffee. Maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but I start each and every work day with a 22 oz humungous travel mug full o’ joe. I have this vision in my head that me without coffee = trainwreck. It’s probably much more psychological and much less based in fact, but I don’t chance it! I have never, since starting my professional life, forgotten my coffee in the morning. I actually set my coffee pot the night before and have it on a 6:30 am timer. This saves me money and calories I’d otherwise be spending at the Starbucks in my office building. I don’t think I’m really addicted to caffeine, per se…but how would I know, seeing as I haven’t gone a day without it in years? I think it’s more that I’ve always consumed coffee is a treat. It’s a warm, soothing beverage I like to enjoy and on particularly bad days in the past, I’d treat myself with an afternoon Starbucks. Coffee is a little reward I allow myself each day, much the same as people reward themselves with a few squares of dark chocolate, or a cookie, or an after work drink.

So, I didn’t work out Saturday or Sunday (big surprise). I didn’t even work out yesterday (it was Memorial Day, after all!) but he surprised me with a soy latte anyway and chalked it up to a “holiday treat” (can you see why we’ve had trouble losing weight in the past?) Today, I dragged my butt to the gym and suffered through my first workout in two weeks. The flaw in the system is that I consume my coffee in the morning but don’t work out until the afternoon. In theory, I could easily have my coffee and just decide not to exercise after work–but that wouldn’t be fair.

I got home and curiously stepped on the scale, knowing I wasn’t going to like the number after my weekend cupcake binge. The verdict: I’m up three pounds since Friday. Ugh. But, there are factors to consider, like I normally weigh myself in the morning before eating and today I weighed myself after eating all of my meals. I’ve historically had a difficult time keeping weight off. The minute I slip up, the weight comes crashing back to my belly. It’s always belly weight, too, which is apparently the worst place to carry extra weight because of all the increased health issues, like cardiovascular disease. I envy women that pack weight onto their thighs or butts. It seems like a better location for extra poundage–me, I’ve always carried around a spare tire.

This week will be a difficult one just to break even, much less lose. We’ll see who comes out victorious on Friday!

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me vs the cupcake

Baker in Recovery recently wrote a couple of posts about mindful eating, and it got me thinking.

As it was a wonderful three-day Memorial Day weekend here in the states, my boyfriend and I (like many people) had several BBQs to make appearances at. Since now I’m an “out of the closet” vegan, I’ve been meaning to bake some cupcakes from Isa’s book to prove to my family that vegan food can be delicious. My mom has expressed her doubts (“how can you call it ‘buttercream’ if it has no butter?!”) and I wanted to show everyone that YES, vegan cupcakes can be yummy! However, I didn’t exactly succeed.

Since I’ve been trying to lose weight and everyone around me seems to be in the same boat, I opted for the “sexy low-fat vanilla cupcakes.” Of course, instead of the low-fat icing suggestion, I topped them with vegan buttercream. Let’s just say things didn’t exactly turn out. The cakes were a little too dense and tough and stuck to the cupcake tins. I knew I couldn’t convincingly present these to my vegan-cupcake-eating novices. I didn’t want this to be their first taste of vegan cupcakes. My ultimate goal is to craft them a cupcake so delicious that they’d never know the difference. The low-fat option, while I still found it to be delicious, was just not the right fit for the occasion.

Since these little monsters weren’t fit to bring to the two BBQs we were invited to, I was left with my worst nightmare: a batch of 12 cupcakes in my fridge, begging to be eaten. For the past several weeks, I’ve been incredibly good on my “diet,” though I hesitate to call it that: I haven’t even craved sweets, which is huge coming from someone who used to eat chocolate in some capacity every single day. I thought maybe I’d turned a corner–maybe, just maybe, the lure of cupcakes chilling in the fridge would be something I could ignore. I learned this weekend that that’s just not the case.

What this boils down to is something I am very ashamed of: between the two of us, my boyfriend and I, this batch of 12 was demolished within 24 hours time. We had three each the night I baked them, and three each the following day. The worst part of it was that I knew I was bad enough eating one for breakfast. Then, after he left, I stuffed two more down my throat. I knew it was wrong, and I knew I wasn’t even hungry. I’m like a junkie around sweets. I felt like a closet-eater. The shame and embarrassment encompassed me and put me in a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mood. What good is it that I can diet and lose weight if the heart of the problem remains: that I just cannot be around sweets unsupervised without devouring them all in one sitting?

I even went as far as to put my entire recipe into MyFitnessPal to calculate the calories per each cupcake, hoping that would dissuade me from eating them. They were around 300 calories a pop. And no, it made no difference.

I started to think a lot about mindful eating, which we talked about at length in my yoga + book club back in January-March. I thought I learned a lot from my close reading of Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God, but what good is knowledge when it’s not fully realized?

I’m mad at myself and I think this probably means I won’t lose any weight this week (but I’ll still try to stave off a gain)–but the best thing I can do is jump back on the horse and try, try again. So I failed. Lots of people fail. And lots of people treat food like a drug just as I did this weekend. There’s a reason I do that–it’s to fill some emptiness I haven’t yet identified. Part of this journey to healthfulness is being able to identify the holes in my life that convince me to eat, drink, or partake in any other self-destructive behaviors. Beating myself up is something I’m good at, but that only dances around the problem. Punishment and forced misery will not make this problem go away; digging deeper will.

So maybe I’m one of those people that can’t have sweets in the house. Whatever works, I guess. Different strokes for different folks. One day, I aim to be able to have a fridge full of cupcakes without the immediate impulse to demolish them all. That day isn’t today, and that’s okay. I’ll get there.

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I have a dear friend who is vacationing in Hawaii. Today she willingly jumped out of a plane and floated to safety to the island of Kauai. Skydiving never interested me until today. Her pictures are beautiful. It may only be a minute of freefall followed by five minutes of floating, but I have to imagine that the adrenaline rush makes it all so worth it.

Skydiving is something my boyfriend has been talking about for quite some time. Did you know you have to weigh under 200 lbs? You can weigh up to 240, but most skydiving locations will charge an additional price per pound over 200–usually $2 per pound. My boyfriend is currently over 200, but I think he has a brand new motivation for his weight loss journey.

While she took a risk by jumping out of a plane today, I took a risk by chopping off some hair. I’ve been bored with my hairstyle and now I have a shorter ‘do. An inverted bob! Just call me Victoria Beckham. Now too short to pull back into a ponytail, I envision a hot summer–and very hot workouts. Sometimes I don’t always think things through. It was nice to see all the hair on the salon floor: I feel lighter.

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kale chips are my jam!

I have very particular taste when it comes to vegetables. I love veggies, but I’m set in my routine. The only veggie that I always have on hand is broccoli. It’s my absolute favorite and a definite staple in my diet. It sneaks into all my meals, from tofu scramble to pasta. I’ve even been known to steam broccoli and eat it alone, as a meal in and of itself (though this was more common in my vegetarian days when I’d slather it in cheese).

One cannot subsist on broccoli alone, though. I never tire of it but I’m aware of a deficiency of variety. For this reason, I’ve (begrudgingly) been packing my work lunch with baby carrots. Carrots are not my favorite vegetable, but they’re easy to pack, low in calories, crunchy in a good way, and I can tolerate them raw. The boyfriend and I often disagree about veggies. He’s definitely Team Broccoli, but he’s also more of an asparagus guy, whereas I like to add bell peppers (against his free will) to most of my meals.

While all of the veggies mentioned above are nutrient-rich, there is a vegetable that reigns supreme, especially for us vegans: kale! This is old news, of course, but besides adding kale to my green smoothies, I haven’t spent much intimate time with this cruciferous wonderfood. This handy-dandy chart breaks down the health benefits of kale in a great way, especially for those visual learners out there:

The calcium count doesn’t look huge here, but as someone who has recently realized that they don’t consume near enough calcium, 9.3% per cooked cup is looking pretty darn good. In my MyFitnessPal account, I track my calories, carbs, fat, protein, fiber, and calcium. The only number that I miss by a longshot every single day is calcium. I thought I had it covered in my multivitamin, but my vegan vitamin only offers me 10% of the RDI (and who knows how much of that measly 10% my body is actually absorbing.)

At the store this weekend, I purchased a huge amount of kale. My grocer doesn’t sell it in realistic proportions. I now have a humungous bag of kale in my possession and have taken to creative ways to prepare it so I can waste as little of it as possible. Enter kale chips, something I’ve been weary of but decided to give a try. I had my doubts about this leafy vegetable crisping, yet not burning, in my oven. In fact, it did exactly as it was supposed to. It was magic, and so simple to prepare! I honestly see no reason for potato chips to ever make their way into my kitchen. Kale chips satisfy my hunger for a crispy, salty snack, in just a fraction of the calories–and a huge amount of nutrition to boot!

All you need to do is wash your kale, pat it dry, remove the ribs and chop into approximately 2 inch pieces. For about 2 cups of chopped kale, I used a tablespoon of olive oil, and you really need much less. I tried to pat some of it off because it was over-oiled. Stick your oiled kale on a baking sheet and dust it with sea salt or whatever seasonings strike your fancy (I think garlic powder would be divine). In an oven preheated to 275, bake for 15-20 minutes until kale chips are crispy and are starting to slightly brown on the edges.

That’s it! Crispy, salty, satisfying, and comparatively low in calories when stacked against its over-processed, fattening cousin: the potato chip. Who knew kale could be so tasty?

Gimme some kale love: what’s your favorite way to prepare it? I have a lot to consume by the week’s end!

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a master’s in…nutrition?

It’s no secret that I’m not thrilled with my “career,” if you can call it that. I graduated with an arguably archaic degree (English/Publishing Studies) in a bad economic time in the American job market (2010). Since that time, I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly it is that I want to do with my life and where I want to end up. The Chicago suburbs aren’t doing it for me. I envy people that have the money and skillset to uproot their lives to live in more desirable locations. Doctors, lawyers, and professors–and anyone with similarly competitive careers–have little comparative difficulty relocating if they so desire. Me? I work in advertising sales support. Previously, I worked as a writer/editor for a publishing company that was, and still is, teetering on inevitable closure. I don’t have a large, nor desirable, skillset, which makes job-hunting exceptionally difficult. I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing…but what is it that I want to do?

If I find something related to my current job, I can take advantage of a $4,000-per-year tuition reimbursement. For this reason, I humored the idea of obtaining an MBA for a while. I did some research and looked into a few programs. It seemed like the next logical step, but my heart’s not in it. I don’t aspire to be somebody’s business manager. Financially speaking, if I opted for that route, I could eventually climb the corporate ladder, but my boss’s job isn’t the job I see myself with. If that’s not my eventual goal, then I’ve decided I must be wasting my time. Working for a healthcare company has gotten me interested in the field, though. Not doing what I’m doing now, of course, but the healthcare field is burgeoning. It’s a good, safe place to be. Of course, I’m not going to be a doctor. I faint at the slightest sight of blood. But with healthcare career options bouncing around in my head, and my recent lifestyle change to a vegan diet, I’ve been led down a path that sounds interesting, fulfilling, and promising–and very, very challenging: nutrition.

I’m currently looking at an MS program in nutrition. It’s an online degree at a state school. It seemed feasible until I saw the pre-reqs: organic chemistry, calculus, microbiology, and more. Shit. My math/science requirements for my BA looked like this: basic biology, basic physics, basic math, fin. In order to even qualify for a degree in nutrition, I’d have to first satisfy the prerequisite courses. This not only means time, but it also means money. Besides which, it means a complete assault on the brain. I know very little about math and science, and I have no doubt that if I were truly committed, that I could surely learn–but while holding down a full-time job which requires an hour commute in each direction each day, could I possibly find the time to stay on top of my schoolwork, my job, and not completely upset my natural rhythm of life? I don’t know. And it’s discouraging, because I think I might have found something I could really enjoy.

One school nearby (private=big bucks) offers a Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis in nutrition. This sounds even more ideal, but again, the time and cost outweigh my desire to embark on the change. The amount of student loans I’d have to take out…and the complete uncertainty of whether or not I’d a) finish the degree or b) find meaningful work in the field completely frightens me away from even trying.

I daydream sometimes of quitting my job, packing up, and just driving. Figuring it out when I get there. This is a fantasy that has no roots in reality. I couldn’t possibly do that. I don’t have the funds saved. I don’t have the wherewithal.

I guess what I’m asking is: how did you happen upon your choice of career, the place you decided to settle? Was it an easy decision or a decision rife with strife? These are big-girl decisions I have to make on my own, and it’s terrifying. I don’t want to wake up in 20 years still here, still with this job, wondering “what if?”

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weight loss challenge

I’ve been writing quite frequently about my desire to get in shape, and just recently, have started actually succeeding in that plan. The problem was that my boyfriend also needs to follow suit, but getting him motivated is like pulling teeth. I thought if I started cooking healthy (vegan) food and working out almost daily, he’d see my happiness/excitement/drive and join in. That wasn’t the case. He spoke often about wanting to join in, but just never did. He’s a man of a thousand excuses (a lot like how I used to be, and sometimes still am) so I concocted a sneaky plan to get him enthused about healthy living.

He’s a very competitive guy. He does well when reality is transformed into some sort of game with tangible punishments and rewards. He also loves watching The Biggest Loser, which I can do without just because it’s two freaking hours, who has the time? In short, I decided to combine these things to create a “game”-like scenario to get him motivated. For others, this might not work. I strongly believe that anyone embarking on a life change like losing weight should have that a-ha! epiphanic moment where they realize that they need to change, and the reasons for change come from within. I think he’s honestly already had that moment but didn’t have the drive to execute the changes he realizes he needs to make. Our “game” is as much a social experiment to me as it is a (potentially) life-altering change for him. Only time will tell if this will work, but so far, so good!

The Game:

Fridays are our “weigh-in” days. We weigh ourselves in the morning and then calculate our percentage lost since the previous week. This is all honor-system, guys. I’m not sharing with anyone how much I weigh, even him, but we trust each other not to cheat. Whoever loses the bigger percentage for the week has “won” the week and gets to dole out one “healthy” punishment to the loser for the next week. That’s the punishment side. The reward side comes from monthly meetings. Whoever wins the most weeks by the end of the month gets to decide on a fun activity to participate in (being active here is key)–we haven’t gotten this far yet, but suggestions I presented to him when I explained the rules were: going to the zoo on a Saturday (major walking going on there), going downstate to one of the national parks for a day of hiking, even going bowling would count!

I was telling one of my friends and she thought it was a really weird idea. It is, and I honestly don’t care at all about it, but it helps him and I know that. If competition is what he needs to succeed, then bring it on. It also gives us a reason to do at least one fun, active thing per month. We tend to really get stuck in our routines and we don’t really do much together when we have days off because we’re either a) tired or b) hellbent on saving money. This, though, will hopefully bring us closer together.

I won the first week and my punishment was based upon his severe addiction to diet coke. He’s tried to quit before and I’ve told him not to bring it over so he’s not tempted, but he does anyway. It’s bad. So my punishment to him for this week was: no diet coke at all, but one 12 oz diet coke can be earned per day by going on a 30+ minute walk with me. You better believe that we went for a walk yesterday. 😉 And today he’s golfing 9 holes, so I told him that counts, too.

At the rate I’m going, I should be at my first goal weight in 20 weeks. That seems like a long ways away, but as long as I keep inching toward the goal, I think the time will cruise on by. Cheers to my new life!

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I’m happy to report that my weight loss goals are (finally) on track. Vegan-me has lost 8 pounds, meaning vegan-me is now at my previously heaviest weight ever. Congratulations are not in order for that accomplishment, but what it means is that the ball is finally rolling. I’ve started to seriously track my food intake using My Fitness Pal and it has really, really helped. I thought I had a pretty good handle on things before but I’m finding now that I was just eating too much. Mostly my diet was healthy before, but too much of a good thing can still be bad. I haven’t wanted to eat my own hand yet so it seems that my body is adjusting nicely to the change. When I don’t work out, I tend to go over my calories by about 200–which is about what I burn when I work out–so clearly the solution is to keep working out. D’oy. It’s not realistic that I will get 30 minutes of cardio in every single day, but my goal still remains to work out more often than not. I aim for at least four days a week, usually taking the weekends off–but now that it’s summertime, I hope to get some exercise-that-doesn’t-feel-like-exercise in on the weekends. Leisurely walks. Trips to the zoo or downtown Chicago. Just something to keep my body moving.

I fear that my body will never look the way I want it to, but that shouldn’t stop me from aiming for the stars with this healthy new life. I’ve done some damage to my body by years of bad eating and inactivity that cannot be undone without the help of plastic surgery, which is out of the question, so I don’t think I’ll ever be proud to call this body mine, even if I hit my goal weight. But what I should be happy about when (not if!) that day comes is that I will be a healthier, happier, more vibrant me. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

I didn’t work out all week until today and I found my muscles becoming antsy. I’ve never experienced that feeling before, but my legs were aching to move. My brain didn’t want to go to the gym but my body definitely did. I had a decent run/walk on the treadmill and now my legs are happily spent. This is good, this feeling. The feeling of wanting to be active is something I’ve never really experienced. I didn’t play sports as a kid and I dreaded gym class. I always identified as more artsy-fartsy than sporty, and I think that’s the difference between me and several other adults that aim to lose weight. Others are aiming to reacquaint themselves with an active life, whereas I’m starting from scratch and building from the ground up. After a few months of reluctantly dragging my ass to the gym, I’m starting to get into a groove. I’m starting to enjoy it. This is huge for someone like me. If I can enjoy exercise, I have faith and certainty that anyone can.

PS, lettuce wraps are my new favorite thing. Such a healthy alternative to tacos, burritos, wraps, or what-have-you. The possibilities are endless! Start wrapping your food in lettuce! Crisp, fresh, delicious lettuce. My personal fave is romaine.

PPS, how can you not be happy listening to this song?

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the healthy vegan: soy

If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know that the vegan diet, when done properly–plant- and whole foods-based–does wonders for the human body. The vegan diet means a cholesterol-free diet. It can drastically reduce the risk of several cancers, such as colorectal cancer, and can also reduce cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and much more. Still, the diet comes with some concerns, which is what gives the vegan diet a bad rap to those unfamiliar with its benefits. Vitamin B12 in particular comes from almost solely animal-based foods, and omega-3 fatty acids can be equally difficult to get your fill of if you’re not actively seeking out plant-based sources of it, such as flaxseed.

For these reasons, I take a vegan multivitamin. Not everyone agrees with this choice. The theory is that any diet, when done properly, should afford the correct amount of essential vitamins and nutrients in order to thrive. I don’t always trust my diet to do what it should, so I supplement. I try to my best but we are a busy people, and sometimes nutrition falls by the wayside. While my calorie tracking on MyFitnessPal proves that I find no difficulty in obtaining my recommended daily dose of protein, there is more than the “do vegans eat enough protein?” question when it comes to overall vegan health. Although I actively add flaxseed to various foods, like oatmeal, and I also add nutritional yeast to a variety of my meals, which is rich in B12, I ere on the cautious side and continue to supplement. This choice is largely in part to a blood test I was subjected to while I was a vegetarian, about two years ago. I was low on Vitamin D and B12, and my doctor recommended I supplement those two vitamins. Since giving up all animal products, I’ve begun to fear that perhaps I’m not obtaining enough iodine or iron from my diet. While perhaps unnecessary, I continue to take my vegan multivitamin, especially because when I skip it for longer than a week, I feel lethargic. This may be a psychological mind over matter situation more than an actual deficiency, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Besides B12, D, iodine, and iron, there is an even more hotly contested concern in the vegan and vegetarian community: soy consumption. There have been studies done that link a diet with increased soy consumption to thyroid disfunction. Until now, I’ve taken that research with a grain of salt, pushing it out of my mind. When I had the aforementioned blood test done, my doctor also performed a full metabolic panel because I’d come to her with symptoms that she said resembled hypothyroidism–depression, fatigue, weight gain, weakness, and muscle and joint pain, to name a few. When she examined my thyroid, she did not feel anything abnormal–it wasn’t enlarged and she could not feel any nodules. My metabolic panel came back just fine. I have to keep in mind, though, that this was when I was a vegetarian, not a vegan. Since adopting a vegan diet, I have drastically increased my consumption of soy. I eat tofu at least twice a week. I eat tempeh at least once a week. I put 2 tablespoons of Silk soy creamer in my coffee every morning. This doesn’t sound out of line to me, but several sources I’ve looked at state that “high soy consumption” is considered consuming soy three or more times a week. I certainly fit the bill.

One source writes:

Daniel Doerge and Daniel Sheehan, two scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spoke out against claims of the supposed benefits of soy. In a February 1999 letter to the FDA they wrote:

“There is abundant evidence that the isoflavones in soy demonstrate toxicity in oestrogen sensitive tissues and in the thyroid. Eating as little as 30 grammes of soy per day can result in hypothyroidism, with symptoms of lethargy, constipation, weight gain and fatigue.”

I’m weary of what the FDA presents to us as truth, and this study is 13 years old, after all. Given my recent difficulties with losing weight and chronic fatigue, however, I have to wonder if there’s any truth to this claim. There’s no way of knowing unless I march back to my doctor and have my thyroid checked out once again. It’s a scary thought that my healthy diet could be damaging my body, but I also have to question whether my “frequent” consumption of tofu, tempeh and soy creamer is all that different from the consumption of soy of the typical processed-foods, meat-eating diet. Soy is an ingredient in many processed foods. It finds its way into everything. I’m not sure how much different my soy consumption really is stacked up against an unhealthy processed diet, but it certainly provides me with some food for thought. Soy consumption has been said to mimic, or even exacerbate, an increase in estrogen in the human body, and this seems to be the root of the problem, if I’ve examined the issue correctly.

I’m not sure if the damage that soy might do to the body can be reversed by avoiding, or limiting, soy consumption, or if its a permanent damage that cannot be undone. I’d love to hear your thoughts from your experiences or your own research. I aim to eat as healthfully as possible. I don’t want it to come down to a doctor’s visit where my doctor warns me that my vegan diet is doing more harm than good. I wouldn’t believe that if I heard it. In fact, I might find it time to find a new doctor if that’s what she had to say.

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lettuce eat!

I tried to think of a cutesy name for my most recent creation–lettuce wrap burritos–but “lettuce” and “burrito” just don’t meld well. Letturito just doesn’t do it for me. Fortunately, what this dish’s name lacks in creativity is more than made up for in big taste. Mmm, low(er) calorie burritos encased in crisp romaine lettuce, what could be better?

The romaine I used was a little bit unruly, as you’ll see in the photos. Turning Veganese posted a recipe utilizing the same concept and I think they’re onto something over there–cabbage might be the way to go! I do ❤ romaine, though…

Vegan Lettuce Wrap Seitan Burritos
1 package Upton’s Naturals chorizo-style seitan
1 tsp vegetable oil
3 large romaine leaves
1 cup basmati rice
1 handful finely chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 can pinto beans
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 tomato, chopped
Sea salt, cumin, Tofutti sour cream, and/or taco sauce, all to taste!

In case you don’t see a theme with my recipes, I don’t like messing around. I’m impatient. I don’t like to juggle too many ingredients. It should be no surprise that this is simple to throw together. The only wrench that could be thrown in the plan is that you can’t locate chorizo-style seitan. Soyrizo is an alternative–or if you’re feeling ambitious, season your own seitan to taste chorizo-y! (It should go without saying that I am not that ambitious, so you’re on your own with that one.)

1. Prepare cilantro-lime rice. Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup basmati. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the 10 minute mark, add finely chopped cilantro and lime juice, stir, cover, and cook for 2-5 more minutes. Optional: add sea salt, like I did. I love sea salt.
2. Prepare beans of choice. I accommodated the boyfriend’s request to use pinto today but I’d normally opt for black beans. I boiled my pinto beans with cumin, salt, and pepper for 10ish minutes. I don’t really know how you’re supposed to prepare canned beans but this is what I did and it worked.
3. Finally, prepare seitan. Warm oil in a frying pan. Add seitan and crumble. Fry for about 5 minutes or until heated through.

Load up your lettuce leaves with rice, beans, seitan, and all the toppings–I opted for tomato and onion, with some hot sauce and Tofutti sour cream on the side for dipping.

Dig in!

they were easier and less messy to consume than they appear!

close-up. mmmm.

This yielded: three lettuce wraps for me, one burrito as big as your head for the boyfriend, and plenty of leftovers to satisfy one or two more meals. Isn’t it nice when something so simple yields enough for leftovers?

Happy Friday!

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coconut rice stir fry, aka YUM!

Thanks to the adventures of the lovely Vegan Charlie, I was recently reminded of how delicious coconut rice is. My last foray with coconut rice got a little off track–I went a little nuts with the cayenne pepper and the dish was almost too spicy to consume (almost being the operative word here). I decided to use Vegan Charlie’s recipe idea as a launching pad and I concocted something similar, but a tad bit different. And it was delicious! Here’s what I came up with, mostly credited to Vegan Charlie, of course!

Coconut Rice Stir Fry
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 can Thai Kitchen Lite Coconut Milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp+ red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
1 container baby corn, halved
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp teryaki sauce
3 tbsp House of Tsang spicy szechuan stir fry sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Bring coconut milk, rice, and spices to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 12 minutes, or until rice is tender and much of the coconut milk has been absorbed. In the meantime, heat oil in a frying pan and begin browning the onions. A few minutes into cooking the onions, add mushrooms. Onions and mushrooms take the longest so they need more time than the broccoli and baby corn. When the mushrooms and onion are nearly done, add the remaining veggies. Stir fry for a few minutes until veggies are at your desired consistency. Add combined sauces and continue to stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

I have been on such a mushroom kick lately–this coming from someone who used to order omelettes and pizzas sans mushrooms!

Simple! And delicious. The combination of sauces is simultaneously sweet, salty, and spicy. A wonderful combination of tastes that uniquely complements the flavor of the coconut rice. I can’t even describe this flavor combination to you. It’s strangely satisfying! Try it, already!

This recipe yields about 3.5 servings, each serving coming out to less than 400 calories. How’s that for a home run?

Happy stirfrying!

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