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March 2012

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This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

I’ve grown quite fond of lentils lately. In fact, I am now searching through (and testing) every possible lentil recipe on the planet, and I will post the best ones. I made this simple lentil dal last night and was very impressed with it! Thank you One Green Planet for this recipe.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: ~4 servings
  • Prep Time: ~10 minutes
  • Cook Time: ~30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 c yellow lentils (I used red here)
  • 1 c green lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or a dash of ground cinnamon)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (buy from a glass jar, not a can)
  • 4½ c vegetable broth (low sodium, organic)
  • cilantro (optional, for garnish)
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Preparation

  1. Add olive oil to a pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for ~2  minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ginger, sauté for another  minute.
  3. Sift through lentils, removing any debris. Then rinse lentils, drain water and add to pot.
  4. Add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, turmeric, cumin, tomato paste and broth. Bring to a boil then lower heat to simmer.
  5. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until lentils are tender.
  6. Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick, garnish with cilantro and serve warm. Enjoy!
One Green Planet has amazing recipes and other articles to help you live a greener life. Check them out here!

It’s week 8 of the Biggest Achiever Program, and for the most part the challenges so far have revolved around food, and what we do or don’t put into our bodies. Good nutrition is essential for a healthy body. Also necessary, however, is exercise. Unless you are involved in some sort of rigorous/two-a-day training program, it’s probably safe to say that you could use a little more exercise in your life. So this week’s challenge will be to take your exercise up a notch.*

*There are many different ways to “take your exercise up a notch.” I would say “increase the amount of exercise you currently do”, but some of you will be at your max for the days of week that you train. For some the increase will come by increasing the amount of days per week and for others, it will be the duration or intensity of the exercise itself. There are many other acute variables that can be adjusted as well, including volume, load, rest periods, etc. If you are currently solely doing cardiorespiratory training, adding strength training into your routine is another great way to shake things up.  Since this challenge is so individualized, feel free to email me with questions on how you should safely take this to the next level. 

This challenge will obviously vary based on your current exercise regimen. Below are a few quick examples of what you can do to switch up your routine. As a Group Fitness Instructor, I highly recommend you try a Group Fitness (Group Exercise/GroupX) class. They can be intimidating at first, I understand that. I was intimidated as well. But just remember that everyone has had their first class, everyone has felt those same feelings. Take a risk, you may find that you really enjoy it. Worst case scenario is that it’s not your thing. If so, no big deal. If we all liked the same things, the world would be a terrible place to live. So embrace it, and try something else.

SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE: So let’s say you are currently doing nothing for your body in terms of exercise and/or are currently under a doctor’s care. If this is the case, you will need to start VERY slowly. In fact, I recommend you get your doctor’s approval to engage in exercise. An easy way for someone living a sedentary lifestyle to start exercising is to simply go for a short walk. Any way you can move a little bit more during the day will go a long way for you.

Couple exercising outdoors

MODERATE EXERCISER: Let’s say your current workout regimen is a run or some sort of moderate exercise 2-3 times a week. I would encourage you to add strength training to that, twice a week, and possibly one more day of cardio. If you are a runner, try adding one day of exercise on the elliptical machine, which will provide you with some cardio exercise with less of a stress on your body. Maybe you don’t want to strength train. I could go on and on about the benefits of strength training, regardless if you want to change your muscles/body or not, but I’ll save that for another post. If you prefer not to lift weights, I would recommend you try some body weight exercises, like planks, push ups, bridges, etc. As a moderate exerciser, you are shooting for 4-5 days of exercise, up from 2-3.

WORKOUT-A-HOLIC: Maybe you work out quite a bit, say… 4-6 times a week. I would encourage you to switch up what you are doing for the week. Try interval training for example? Tabata is a great way to torch calories fast, lose weight, retain lean muscle mass, and rev up that metabolism! Or if you always do interval training, try to go for a long walk or a run. Get some strength training in and try some new exercises. Or maybe you always work out in the evenings, try morning workouts this week. This is for the person who is in their groove as far as their workouts go. You never want to get too comfortable. Also, ensure you take at least one day off a week to rest and let your body recover. Hard workouts tear the body down, and you will need to let it recuperate, otherwise your body will being breaking down muscle, which of course is no good.

One week is not nearly enough time to see a difference in switching up your workout routine, but it will be good to introduce yourself to new things. It takes 21 days to make/break a habit, so I highly recommend trying to switch it up for the next 21 days. You’ll truly be amazed at what comes out of it. Contact me for me current teaching schedule! If you are not a member at 24 Hour Fitness or Equinox, please let me know, and I will get you in on a guest pass!

Thank you Chef Chloe for this delicious recipe! I can eat the stuffing by the spoonful it’s so good! This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan.

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: 6 stuffed mushrooms
  • Prep Time: ~40 minutes
  • Cook Time: ~30 minutes
  • Notes:  The lentil stuffing can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator. The mushrooms can be stuffed and assembled on a baking sheet the day before. Bake and finish the stuffed-mushrooms right before serving.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (or quinoa, or grain of your choice)
  • 1 can lentils (rinsed and drained) or cook your own lentils (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for brushing)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • ½ vegetable broth (organic, low sodium)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (plus extra for garnish)
  • 6 Portobello mushrooms (remove stems and gills)
  • 1 tomato, sliced into thin rounds
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Cook brown rice and lentils (separately) as their packages instruct.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add onions, cashews, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until onions are soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine onion/cashews, brown rice, lentils, breadcrumbs, vegetable broth, basil and thyme. Mix together and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Brush both sides of mushroom caps lightly with olive oil and place top-side-down on a lightly oiled cookie sheet pan. Stuff mushrooms with ~½ cup of the lentil stuffing, finish with a tomato slice on top.
  6. Bake for ~30 minutes, or until the stuffing is browned and mushrooms are cooked through.
  7. Garnish with extra fresh thyme if desired and enjoy!
Thank you, Chef Chloe, for this amazing recipe. For more delicious vegan recipes, please check out her web site! I also made these with a side of roasted brussel sprouts and green beans. Yum!

Eating healthy becomes much easier when we are in control of what and how we cook. It is possible to find healthy meals outside of your own home, but you lose control over how such items are cooked. Eggs cooked in oil, sweet potatoes fried instead of baked… restaurants typically take the cheap and easy approach to all things. This week, we are going to focus on cooking our own food. This is going to be an essential concept in achieving a healthier lifestyle.

This week, you will cook at least 6 meals on your own. That means you, not a spouse or anyone else. This week you will prepare breakfast twice, lunch twice and dinner twice. This should prevent folks from only preparing say, breakfast for example, and taking the easy way out of the challenge. But none of you would do that, right? After all, this program is voluntary, and the goal is to step outside your comfort zone to learn new ways to become healthier. Everyday, at a minimum, you will be preparing one meal for yourself.

For some of you, this will be easier than others. This challenge is currently geared towards those that do not prepare very many meals for themselves. If you currently cook at least 6 meals on your own each week, you’re going to need to find a way to make this challenge one you will find more difficult. For instance, say you always prepare your own breakfast, always bring a fresh lunch (prepared by you, not a frozen meal) to work, and sometimes cook dinner for yourself… this week, I challenge you to cook dinner for yourself every day. Or maybe dinner isn’t the problem, but you’re a slave to the sodium-filled Lean Cuisines at lunch. If that is the case, challenge yourself to bring your lunch every day this week.

The point of these challenges is to make them difficult for yourself. If you come across a challenge that is going to be easy for you, find a way to modify it to ensure you will be learning something and at the end you will have taken something positive away from the week’s challenge. This is all about you, don’t forget that!

Below are some helpful resources I recommend for healthy recipes. Please try some new recipes this week, and if you find one you like, please share it with us! Do exercise caution, however. Healthy recipe sites will sometimes contain recipes that might contain healthy ingredients, but could be high in calories, etc. If you have questions, please feel free to email me!

Live Whole Be Free

CLEAN Program Recipes

Whole Foods

Chef Chloe

My New Roots

The Urban Poser

Skinny Scoop

100 Days of Real Food

You are in control of what you put into your body. You are responsible for how you look on the outside, and how you feel on the inside. Think of food as fuel. Ask yourself, is what I’m about to eat going to give my body the proper nutrients to function optimally? Good luck this week!

Peace, love and responsible eating,

Melissa

 

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan, with a nut-free option available.

After several months of being dairy-free, there really wasn’t much I missed about it… until I read this recipe on ChefChloe.com, and I realized that I wanted Mac and Cheese. Badly! So I thought I’d give this vegan recipe a try and see if I couldn’t curb my craving without giving in to temptation. Luckily, it worked, and it is now one of my new favorite recipes!

Notes

  • Recipe Yields: ~4 servings
  • Prep Time: ~5 minutes
  • Cook Time: ~20 minutes
  • Notes: Can use regular pasta instead of gluten-free if you’d like

Ingredients

  • 1 pound gluten-free pasta (I used brown rice shells)
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • ¼ cup vegan margarine
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour, or any other type of GF flour)
  • 3 cups almond or rice milk (I used almond)
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast (the cheese!)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions on package, adding the broccoli for the last 5 minutes of cooking, cook until tender.
  2. At the same time, in a medium saucepan, whisk margarine and flour over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add milk, yeast, tomato paste, salt and garlic powder to the saucepan, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.
  3. Reduce heat to low and let simmer until sauce thickens.
  4. Adjust seasonings to your heart’s desire and stir in lemon juice and agave.
  5. Drain noodles/broccoli, add to sauce and serve immediately.
  6. Enjoy delicious mac and cheese without consuming any animal products! Hooray!
Thank you, Chef Chloe, for this amazing recipe. For more delicious vegan recipes, please check out her web site!