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Healthy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

spinach artichoke dip 1

I had Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip for the first time sometime in the 1990′s.  I remember thinking “Huh, what is this nasty looking thing and why is it hot?”  But one bite and I’m pretty sure time stopped for a few minutes there and I was lost in a gooey, cheesy, hot, rich, tangy, and utterly delicious vortex of yum.  It also left me gripping my stomach in pain about 30 minutes later, if I remember correctly.  But despite the pain, the memory of those glorious tastes and textures dancing on my tongue lived on.

Traditionally, Spinach Artichoke dip contains mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, cream cheese, and oh yeah, some artichoke hearts and spinach.  Problem One, not exactly vegan.  I mean, you can buy vegan versions of all those things, but it wouldn’t be healthy and might not even taste very good.  Problem Two, despite living in a place where artichokes actually grow, there are NO artichoke hearts for sale!  Yes, I could cook my own artichokes and remove the hearts, but that’s just not gonna happen.

I am not sure WHY artichoke hearts are not sold, because artichoke BOTTOMS are widely available both frozen and canned.  But bottoms won’t work for this recipe because the texture is all wrong.  (Trust me, I tried).  I am pretty sure it is a kashrut issue and probably to due to the impossibility of assuring artichoke hearts are bug-free.

But lo and behold, the other day in Hetzi Hinam in Hod HaSharon, I found canned artichoke hearts!  I bought like 10 cans, haha.

canned artichokes

Then a friend pointed out that they do NOT have a hecsher on them despite being sold in an all-Kosher store.  Well, I now have 10 cans so guess what?  I’m using them!  (Do not take kashrut advice from the likes of me.)

So then I perused several recipes online for vegan spinach artichoke dip and finally settled on this one on Happy, Healthy Long Life, because I have liked her recipes in the past.  It really ends up being a very healthy recipe!  It is high in protein, full of veggies, and low in fat.  I made a few changes based on local ingredient packaging size and changed the whole thing to metric.  If you are in North America, you can use her recipe as written here.  I also left out the basil because I didn’t happen to have any, but I’m sure it’s delicious if you include it.

Healthy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Healthy Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 box spinach (about 150g)
  • 1 box tofu (300g), if you have get silken, use that, if not firm is fine
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (shmarei beera)
  • juice of one lemon OR 1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • several twists freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can (390g) artichoke hearts in water (reserve liquid!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Lightly spray or grease a baking dish (4 cup capacity)
  3. Water saute onion and garlic until softened
  4. Toss in spinach and stir until wilted.
  5. Season with black pepper.
  6. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. In food processor, blend tofu, nutritional yeast, salt, and lemon or vinegar until smooth, adding liquid from artichoke can as needed. If you are using silken tofu, you probably won't need to add any liquid, but with firm tofu, you will need about half of what is in the can.
  8. Add artichoke hearts and pulse until chopped and blended but not entirely smooth. You want some texture here.
  9. Add the onion-garlic-spinach mixture and pulse just a few times until all is chopped and blended.
  10. Spread into prepared pan.
  11. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  12. NOTE: I had some leftover homemade breadcrumbs, so I sprinkled those on for the last 10 mins and broiled until lightly toasted.
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This post is participating in Wellness Weekends.

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A Few of My Favorite Things: Inspiring Stuff!

can't wait for inspo

In my last post, I wrote about my favorite non-fiction reads for 2013.  While several of those picks were packed with Capital “I” Inspiration themselves, today I want to tell you about the inspiring websites, podcasts, and people I follow to keep my motivational engine humming.

I often hear from people that they were doing really well on their diet, new exercise program, healthy living lifestyle, and then got bored, lost their motivation, became uninspired, and went back to their old habits.  I hear “I just can’t stay motivated!” over and over.

Well, I must tell you that as far as I know, no one stays motivated all the time!  The trick is to keep working at it.  Yes, of course!  Like anything you are trying to learn, you have to practice and work at being and staying motivated and inspired!  For instance, you must keep your Big Why out somewhere you will see it everyday.  And crucially important, you also need to seek out and stay in regular contact with inspiring people who have similar goals as yours.

This is MY list of inspirational material for 2013.  This stuff is like a Goal Bath and I bathe in it daily:

1.  The Vegan Body Revolution.

This podcast by vegan trainer and body builder, Thomas Tadlock, rocks my compression socks.  I downloaded all of the episodes to my ipod and I listen while working out, hanging the laundry, and making dinner.  Brainwash!  Goal Bath!  In these podcasts, Thomas interviews all the top names in vegan body building.  He gets his subjects to spill all the minute details on exactly what they eat, including exact quantities,  favorite home recipes and even precise meal timing.  He also gets the straight dope on exactly what their workouts consist of down to sets and rep numbers.   Listen to these and you will never again have to wonder “I wonder how he/she got those great results?”  You will have ALL the info you need!  Implementation, well…  that’s another story.

2.  Frank Medrano

Frank is a vegan strong man and a “fitness personality” so says his tag line.  But all you need to know is that on Facebook page he regularly says things like this:

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and does things like this:

(Oops, video won’t embed here.  I put it at the bottom of the post, but don’t skip ahead even though that body is…  uhn, just don’t skip!)

3.  Shrink Yourself

Sign up for Dr Gould’s daily emails on Emotional Eating and have things like this appear in your inbox:

e73f87b0fd955f2f078dcf68e9508d02

4. Dr Furman’s Membership Forum

Whether you are a vegan or not, the lowest level of membership in the Fuhrman forums is a gold mine of healthy living inspo!  I pay $4/month and have read-only access to ALL of the forums, Ask the Dr questions, past webinars, newsletters and position papers, the recipe archives of thousands of recipes PLUS daily recipes sent to my inbox in case I am too lazy to actually go look any up.  With this stuff coming to me daily, I couldn’t forget about healthy eating if I tried!

5.  Moi

july 7, 2013

Uh, sorry if this is chuztpadik, but my entire sweaty, pumped, kale-eating existence is designed to motivate and inspire people!  Hire me for a 30-Day Detox or a 4-month health program and not only will you have me all up in your bidness 24/7, but I will never let you be free of me ever again!  Just kidding, that’s scary.  But seriously, I design all of my programs with the intent of PERMANENT LIFESTYLE CHANGE and permanent is well, permanent.  You won’t yo-yo after getting a serious, personal dose of some Emily!

For more passive inspiration, you can follow me at the following locations:

Facebook - amazing, fun, personal content, but FB is cracking down on unpaid advertising, so you likely won’t see what I’m posting unless you frequently click “like” on my posts!  (Hint, hint: LIKE my damn posts people!)

Pinterest - I am like the Queen of Pinterest. I have 3,000 followers and have grown The Vegan Woman’s page to over 10,000!  Sadly I can’t make an actual living as a professional pinner, but you can surely enjoy inspiration from my pinboards, particularly the one aptly named Mindset and Motivation.

Twitter - I suck at twitter, sorry.  It’s for people with ADD, while I’m not even a capable multi-tasker.  None-the-less, I am there, plugging away, sharing whatever content I think will be informative and inspirational.

My mailing list - currently neglected because I can’t decide what kind of content to provide that I don’t already provide in all these other places, BUT I will get on the ball, I promise.

My blog posts via email – you can sign up right there in the top right corner and blog posts will come to your email as they are published.

These are the food blogs I personally receive via email:

FatFreeVegan Blog - amazing recipes (not always fat free which is good by me) and great writing

OhSheGlows - the most original recipes ever and stunning photography

Healthy Girls Kitchen - Wendy reminds me of me and shares her kitchen and health adventures, warts and all.

Kathy’s Healthy, Happy Life - not always healthy, but often inspiring!

Fitness stuff I recommend (not necessarily vegan)

Precision Nutrition – interesting, well-researched and well-written fitness articles.  I’m pretty sure they also have a free read-only membership forum level although I haven’t looked at it for years.

Leigh Peele – as mentioned in the last post, this trainer is the real deal.  Follow her and read everything she writes.  You will be smarter and more empowered for it.

Tom Venuto – legendary, one of the greats, a published author with a yummy 6-pack.  Buy his books, read his blogs, you have enough inspiration here to last a lifetime!

For some reason, wordpress wouldn’t let me post this video up by Frank’s section, so we’ll have to settle for this little bit of jaw-dropping awesomeness here at the end of the post.  Ladies and gents, Frank Medrano, who eats only plants and can do all of this. (And if you listen to his podcast with Thomas Tadlock as mentioned above, you will know exactly what Frank eats and how he trains, woohoo!)

Go forth Inspired!

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A Few of My Favorite Things: The Book Edition

book collage 1

For other personal recommendations, see also my first “A Few of My Favorite Things” post from July of 2011.

second edition came of favorite things from June 2013.

And this post on my favorite books, websites and programs in March of 2011.

In this edition I want to tell you about the things I read and worked on in 2013 that had a positive impact on my personal growth.  None of these are affiliate links.  I am recommending solely from my heart.  I also just want to mention that I am an enormous bookworm and read over 40 books every year, mostly fiction, so these are just the tip of the book iceberg  These are largely non-fiction recommendations in keeping with the purpose of my blog.  Enjoy!

Online Programs/ Digital Books

1.  Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map.

desire_introducingI bought Danielle’s first multi-media product The Fire Starter Sessions back when I was just beginning my business and it helped me set the foundation for all that was to come.  The Desire Map, which can now also be purchased as a print book (the same way The Fire Starter Sessions turned into a print book called The Spark Kit), takes it to the next level.  Danielle turns goal setting and achievement on it’s head by asking NOT “What do you want to accomplish?” but rather “How do you want to FEEL?”  She explains a bit of the process in this interview with Marie Forleo here:  http://www.marieforleo.com/2013/12/danielle-laporte-goals-desire/  This is not a book you sit back and read.  Rather this is a workbook and series of writing prompts that will leave reams of scribbled upon paper across your desk.  Just the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it.

Incidentally, this book contains one of my favorite quotes of all time:  ”The journey has to feel the way you want the destination to feel.” You have heard me say as much about the weight loss journey many a time.

The digital book also comes with audio and playlists and tons of cool interactive online components.

 

2.  The Fat Loss Trouble Shoot, by Leigh Peele.

fltI have been a huge fan of trainer Leigh Peele’s tell-it-like-it-is approach to body transformation for many years.  She has several great products, cookbooks (not vegan, but the vegetarian ones have vegan recipes), and a very helpful membership forum.    I bought her digital product The Fat Loss Trouble Shoot this year to learn how to help those clients who appear to be doing everything “right” and are still not achieving the results they want.  Leigh has the answers, but make no mistake, it is a bitter pill for many to swallow.  She explains down to the calorie and gram why most of us are still over-estimating the calories we burn and under-estimating the calories we eat.  The book is full of the best science, the coolest number crunching, the details on the hormonal impact of “dieting down” and why it is so damn hard for most of us to permanently lose weight.  Understand and practice what Leigh presents and you will achieve the results.   Yo-yo dieters, this is especially for you!   If however, you’d rather wallow in “I’ll just do it my way, not count or measure anything, and hope for the best. Or better yet, find the latest drop-fat-fast fad diet.” you will hate this book.   It’s the straight dope.  The digital book comes also with audio read by Leigh if you are a listening type learner.

Real Books

3.  Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins

downloadTwelve years ago, a chance encounter with this book changed the course of my life.  This year, I found and re-read the book.  It is stunning.  But again, for people who want to take responsibility for their lives and make actual changes in the ways they think, believe and behave.  I wrote more about it in this post HERE.

 

 

 

4.  Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, et all

download (1)The subtitle of this book is “Tools for talking when the stakes are high.”  I read it because my entire work revolves around having such conversations with people.  But truly this would be a helpful book for every single person on the planet!  One if the key concepts I learned to recognize is that when a conversation becomes “unsafe” for one or more participants, he/she will often turn to either Violence or Silence – lashing out or going silent.  To get things back to a productive place, you must ask yourself “What do I want to achieve with this exchange?”  If the goal is to irreparably offend this person but remain righteous and right, then continue on your present course.  But if you want to reign silence/violence back into productive dialogue, you will likely have to take steps to make the conversation safe again for the person(s) you are speaking with.  This should be required reading for every person on Facebook, heck, on the internet anywhere!

 

5.  Finding Ultra – Rich Roll

FINDING-ULTRA-COVER-FINAL1Rich Roll is a 40-something triathlete and a vegan.  This is his life story.  I found it shockingly, massively inspiring.  At one point Rich and a friend decide  ”Hey, let’s do FIVE full triathlons in five consecutive days on the five different islands of Hawaii for no other reason but to say we did it.”  The things they put their bodies through and live to tell will make you take a long, hard look at your own seeming limitations (ie, you can do SOOOOO much more than you think you can!)

 

 

6.  Eat and Run – Scott Jurek

download (2)Also the memoir of a vegan endurance athlete, Eat and Run, is less swash-buckling than Rich’s book, but just as interesting and inspiring.  And it has delicious recipes for Scott’s favorite meals too!  Running inspo and vegan recipes -my idea of heaven on paper!

 

 

 

7.  Vegan Body Building and Fitness by Robert Cheeke

veganbodybuildingI read this years ago when it first came out and loved it, but was still not ready for weight lifting at that time.  As I hinted here, I am now firmly in the weight lifting camp and re-read Robert’s book for guidance.  Truth be told, Robert has since learned a lot more about nutrition and should probably do a re-write, as some of these recommendations are a little specious.  My personal favorite part of the book though is Robert’s Big Why:  His form of animal advocacy is by SHOWING what a human can achieve physically on a plant-only diet.  He works as hard as he does for the animals.  That speaks to me enormously!

 

 

 

8.  Drunkard: A Hard Drinking Life by Neil Steinberg

m3ktoQtLwaziTrQW4XvEcsQThe memoir of Washington Post columnist Neil Steinberg’s recovery from alcohol addiction.  If you are a food addict or wonder if you are a food addict, read this book and see yourself behaving with food the way an alcoholic does with alcohol.  You will also recognize Steinberg moving through the Five Stages of Change and understand that our recovery from any addiction must follow a similar course.

 

 

 

9.  Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott

Imperfect BirdsOK, this one is fiction and I actually read this last year, but Neil’s book made me think to include it in this list.  Anne Lamott is my all-time favorite author and I love her writing to the extent that if you don’t love her, I’m not sure we can be friends.  Imperfect Birds is the third book in the “Rosie” series, following Rosie and Crooked Little Heart, but it stands alone so you don’t need to have read the others.  This is another story of addiction, this time told by a teen drug addict, beloved daughter of a successful and high achieving family.  Again, as Rosie goes to greater and greater lengths to hide her addiction and it’s side effects from her parents and herself, so too will the food addict see herself mirrored in these deceptive behaviors.  This book will crack your heart open and humble you to the very core.  I read it alternating between madly underlining passages, scribbling out quotes, gasping at the incredible way Anne uses words, to sobbing my eyes out over the story.  I turned the last page a changed person where my own addiction is concerned.

 

10.  Eat to Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman

download (3)So now that you have come to grips with the addiction, what do you do about it?  Eat to Live is the manual for overcoming food addictions.  I have read it literally hundreds of times, sometimes rejecting it as all out impossible, other times seeing in it the truth of what must be done.   Dr Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet is largely vegan, extremely high in plant matter and low in everything else:  no salt, very little oil, no sugar, nothing processed.  It is not easy to implement or stick with and normally that would make me disqualify it as a realistic long-term solution for anyone, but honestly, this way lies the path to ultimate food freedom, I feel quite certain.  Read it.  More than once.  Let it sink in.

 

 

OK, so next post will be my Favorite people to follow, blogs to read, emerging trends etc.  Until then, fire up the kindle!

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What Will You Do With the Days You’ve Been Given?

As we ready ourselves to put the cap on 2013, and I look back at the goals I set for this year, I must first confess to being absolutely shocked that an entire year has really passed since I wrote those goals!  I remember when I was a kid, sometimes I would close my eyes at night only to open them literally one second later to find it was already morning.  That is how I am feeling right now about 2013!  Am I in some time warp?  How did 12 months pass in what felt like one day??

After I overcome my time warp shock,  the next part of what I do in preparing for the new year is to go through my calendar and list all of the things I accomplished in 2013.   Here are some highlights of my 2013 accomplishment list:

  • I worked with the most amazing clients this year!  I have put in a lot of effort toward getting super clear on who I want to work with, and on NOT working with those I cannot help.  This really came to fruition in 2013.    So much better for me and so much better for the clients!
  • I produced and hosted a successful, sold-out cooking class for someone else which gave me the confidence to think about trying my own group classes again.  Stay tuned!
  • I automated my booking system and streamlined much of my work processes which gave me much more time to work on higher impact things.
  • I wrote a lot of articles for a lot of different websites and my own, gaining me followers, clients, and subscribers.
  • I sadly found myself at the highest weight than I have been in the 12 years of defending my original weight loss.  I had to take some VERY difficult Soul Medicine and re-learn some deep and hard lessons about myself and my relationship with food.
  • I conquered my fear of the weight room and started seriously changing my physique in a way that will prevent the above from happening so easily ever again! (more on that soon as well…)
  • I conquered TWO other huge personal fears that scared the shit out of me.   Did it, did it, done!
  • I ran a Half Marathon with my hubs!

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  • And I traveled, man did I travel!

A beyond romantic weekend with my sweetie in Paris:

paris collage final

We also traveled all over Israel, went to Jordan, New York, Canada, and Indiana.  Seems like I hardly put my passport away all year!

When looked at in retrospect, this year was a spectacular work of art and I have NOTHING to complain about.

But those goals I set last year and didn’t accomplish?  That “break out year” I intended to have?  The obstacles that are STILL looming large in my path?  Those things are wigging me out, dudes!

For 2014, I will take a second look at the un-accomplished goals and ask WHY are they unaccomplished?  Did I just lose sight of them in the busyness of day-to-day life?  Perhaps they don’t fit me quite right the way they are phrased?  Can I see how they relate to the BIG PICTURE of what I want to create with my life?  Do they need smaller steps and/or more accountability?

If 2013 was any indication, 2014 will pass in the blink of an eye.  There are things I urgently want to create and do.  I feel like 2013 was largely a year of learning and growth and I want 2014 to be a year of Implementation and Action.  I’m glad you guys will be here with me, egging me on/  Don’t let me slack off!

How about you?  What do you want to do with the 365 days you will hopefully receive in 2014?  Will this be your break-out year?  Will you finally accomplish the things that you have carried over from year to year?  Can you see where you have been blocked from accomplishing those things?  Can you see a way around and through?

Need some Inspiration?

For me, THIS song did it today.

This level of Epic.

This level of Urgency.

This size of dream.

30 Second to Mars, Do or Die:

 

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11 Fast Vegan Meals for One

So apparently, if I do not set PUBLIC blogging goals, my blog languishes here unattended when things get busy elsewhere.  But that’s bad because people find me and decide to work with me via this blog.  And hopefully it does bring some sort of value to the rest of you, or I suppose you wouldn’t be here reading, right?

December 2013:  The Goal (TaDa!) will be to write 14 new posts this month in honor of the imminent arrival of 2014.  If I do not accomplish this feat, feel free to publicly humiliate me with the title Very Bad Blogger or something even worse.  The potential for embarrassment should keep me in line. As soon as I get this post up, I will sit down with my calendar and list of things to blog about, and make a schedule just like I did for Vegan MoFo 2013.

People, it is HARD to write a blog for this many years and continually come up with interesting things to write without repeating myself a million times. PLEASE, please, if there is anything you have a question about, or want to see me tackle in a post, PLEASE let me know!  You can comment below, or if you’d prefer to keep it private, email me at healthcoachemily@gmail.com.

Here’s an example:  I had a request on my Facebook page to show more of what I eat on a day-to-day basis.  So I’ve been having fun taking pictures of my meals and posting them over there.  Some of you don’t do Facebook or haven’t seen the posts so I thought I’d share here too.

All of these meals take literally 30 seconds to 5 minutes MAX to put together if one has the basics already made and in the fridge: baked sweet potatoes, cooked lentils, quinoa, tempeh, etc. All meals are under 400 calories, rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber, and contain between 20-30g protein per serving.  (Remember, protein minimums are around 60g-70g/day for inactive or lightly active females.  I aim for higher protein due to my rather intense exercise regime and because I just feel better eating this way.

Here we go:

meal blog post

1.) Tempeh, spinach and green onions with peanut sauce and an orange.  How: I first steamed a block of tempeh for 20 mins, then marinated overnight in a sauce of soy sauce, chili sauce and peanut butter – few spoonfuls of each. Then I crumbled it and sauteed in a pan with spinach and green onions. Poured the leftover marinade over the top. This is half the entire quantity it made.  Second half was saved for another meal.

Tip: Eating iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods, (that orange) helps the body absorb the iron better.

tempeh peanut bowl

2.)  A baked sweet potato, some cooked red lentils, and cucumbers with Kosher salt on top.  Self-explanatory, no?

sweet potato

3.) Spinach salad with Tofu.  This had 3 cups spinach, 100g lightly stir-fried tofu, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, a green onion and that iron-absorption assisting orange for dessert.

spinach salad

4.)  Post-workout blueberry protein smoothie contains a scoop of vegan protein powder, 1 cup of blueberries and water. Simple, Fast, Refueling Yum!

blueberry smoothie

5.) Tofu Scram. This version had 150g tofu scrambled with green onions, mushrooms, turmeric (good against inflammation!), and cilantro. Served with a side of giant juicy red grapes.

Tip: 1 serving of tofu with greens (cilantro in this case) fills over half of my calcium needs for the entire day!

tofu scram

6.) Hemp Oats. Contain 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup soy milk, 1/3 cup water, 1 banana (mashed), 1 oz raisins, and 1 Tbsp hemp seeds.

Tip: Between the raisins, the soy milk, the oats and the hemp seeds, this breakfast has 23g of iron!

oats and hemp

7.) Veggie Cheezebuger.  Just to show that I am not always a paragon of nutritional purity, I DO sometimes eat a more processed item like soy cheese on a veggie burger b/c it tastes great, feels fun, and off-set by a plate of veggies, works for me just fine.

veg cheeseburger

8.)  Green salad with “blackened” tofu strips. The salad is just chopped lettuce, tomato and grated carrot. To make the tofu, I cut a 300g block of firm tofu into strips, tossed it in smoked paprika (can use chipotle powder) and garlic powder. Then I pan fried the strips in a non-stick skillet until brown on each side. Doused the whole thing with a splash or two of soy sauce. That made 2 portions, so I saved the second for another day.

blackened tofu salad

9.)  Quinoa and Broccoli with Happy Herbivore’s Quick Queso Sauce.  You can google that recipe as other bloggers have posted it.  Not sure Lindsay ever posted it herself, so I’m not going to either out of respect.

quinoa broccoli

10.) Chickpea Flour Cheezy Omlette and Roasted Potatoes.  This breakfast felt very special to me.  I took my regular chickpea flour omlette and added green onions to it.  Then I melted a slice of soy cheese and folded it inside.  It was like old times when I ate egg and cheese omlettes.  A side of some roasted potatoes leftover from dinner and I was stuffed! This meal contained 20 grams of protein, 25% of RDA for calcium and iron!

omelette

11.)  Simple Quinoa and Peas.  I had some quinoa already cooked, so I heated it up in the microwave and threw in fiber- and protein-rich frozen peas.  It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

quinoa peas

I hope it was helpful to see these dishes and how quickly healthy, filling, nourishing food can go from fridge to mouth.  You just have to have the staples ready and be a little creative.

Thirteen more posts for 2013 to go…  Remember to let me know if there is something in particular you’d like to see me write about!

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The Fork in the Road

forkintheroad

This happens so often with clients that I felt I should probably write about it.  This is not about any ONE of you, so please don’t feel I am sharing something we shared privately.

Basically what happens is this:  A person is working hard on changing their eating or fitness habits for awhile.  Everything is going great.  Then suddenly, it’s like the floor falls out and I hear things like: “This isn’t going to work.”  ”I am tired of feeling deprived.”  ”OTHER people get to eat junk food and sit on their asses and they are not fat so I’m sure I can do that too!”  ”I just need to eat  everything in moderation and stop being so strict with myself.”

Quite often the precipitating event has been a binge, usually on sugar.  Friends, your brain on sugar is a crazy thing!  It’s like all sense flies out the window and you just have these neurons going “Aw hell baby, eat some more sugar!  That Emily bitch is wrong, wrong, wrong!  You deserve my luscious deliciousness, my darling, come and eat!”

Sugar is a seductive Siren fo sho!

Other times it is purely self-sabotage. Things are starting to get good, this is actually working for the first time in ever and BAM you can’t take it.  Retreat!  Run away!

The sad thing is that some clients keep this internal conflict to themselves.  They stop answering my emails.  They cancel sessions.  They just disappear back into what they were doing before.  Another failed attempt.

But when I get lucky, my client will actually write to me or skype me and say exactly all the thoughts and frustrations that are on her mind.  And THEN…  well, this is the difference between having a coach and going it on your own! Then, I am able to show my dear client that she is simply at a Fork in the Road.

At this Fork there are two choices and two choices alone:

A. Turn left and give in to the junk food, perch yourself back in the comfort of your chair, go back to how it was before.  Gain back the weight you have lost.  Probably gain some more to go with it.  This is the choice most people make most of the time, although at the time, they do not see it as such.  It is usually cloaked in some “story” like they don’t have enough money to continue, or their friend is taking some magic pill and dropping weight like a stone, so you know, why sweat it out with all this hard work?  Path A is the choice my clients consistently made before they hired me.  Path A is the path most people take and the reason why most people fail at their attempts to permanently change their habits.

OR, you can take the right turn, the 2nd fork and…

B.  Be strong. Stick it out. Suck it up. Put your head down and keep doing the work.  Push harder.  Refuse to quit.  Finally, finally start to see the results you are seeking.  Get excited!  Work with your darling coach so success isn’t scary and sabotage-y!  Succeed!

See, the thing is, people think they can choose A, and get B results.

 Let’s just clear that up for once and for all:  If you have been trying that approach (eat whatever I want, don’t exercise and hope to be slim and svelte) for 30 years and it hasn’t worked, I think we can safely say it isn’t going to EVER work.  It doesn’t matter if it works for other people, it doesn’t work for you. No matter how much you wish that wasn’t so, it’s a truth you need to face.

So really, that’s it. Two choices. Your choices.  No one is forcing you and no one is depriving you.  And speaking of deprivation, not having the body and the health you want is what I would call real deprivation.  Passing up the cookies is just a minor inconvenience in comparison.  (The story of how I finally shifted that mindset is here).

This fork is going to rise up to meet you a million times on your journey.  Each time you will have to choose A or B.  You cannot choose both!  After all, there is a reason this poem is so famous!  Read it again now, thinking of your path.

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

The next time you find yourself at the fork, come back and read this post.  Then consciously choose the ONLY path that points to the outcome you seek.

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How to Love Your Butt

My mother granted me permission to share the following.

The other day Mommy and I were emailing about that article everyone was posting on Facebook about women with big butts having a better life or something like that.  I personally did not read the post beyond the headline, because I don’t think I have a particularly big butt and I have a great life anyway, so whatevs.

But my mom seemed to think that she and I are among the lucky ones destined for happiness because of our large cabooses.  All of a sudden it struck me that I have been getting that message from her since I was young: You are a lovely, intelligent girl, my beloved daughter, but you’ve got some serious junk in the trunk.

People, I present my butt.  Put on your protective goggles because apparently, it is huge:

Race Ready pocket shorts

Not only is that my butt, but I happen to be wearing the most unflattering (but functional!) running shorts ever created (Race Ready), packed with sandwiches and snacks for a 42km jaunt!  Even though I’m  ”packin’” in this photo, as it were, this to me, is a perfectly acceptable female backside.

I can’t post a photo of my mom’s butt because I don’t have one and she would truly kill me if I did, but I promise you, the woman is a tiny little thing with a hiney the size of an acorn.

When I asked her where she got the idea that she (and I) deserve membership in the Big Butt Clan, she recalled a childhood taunt flung at her in gym class by some random girl 70 years ago.  For all of these years, my matriarch has been carrying those words around in her head and allowing them to impact her view of herself.  If she had charged rent on that brain space, she’d be a rich woman.

Listen, I know my rear doesn’t look like the ones owned by models and celebs, or even many of the bikini clad nymphs on Tel Aviv beaches.  I do in fact realize that it is wide and cellulite-y and may or may not be furry and or pimply.  But I like my butt because it has accomplished everything a butt could hope to accomplish in life:

  • It is comfortable to sit on.
  • It contains the strongest muscle in my body, the Gluteus Maximus, which is an awesome super hero sounding name for a muscle.  ”Optimus Prime, have you found the All Spark?”  ”Not yet Gluteus Maximus, but we have intercepted a message between Megatron and the Decepticons.”
  • I have always managed to have boyfriends and you know guys look at our butts, so it can’t be hideous now, can it?
  • In fact, I attracted a fabulous mate with this butt and produced two awesome off-spring, so… yeah.
  • I ran 42 kms in one day and thousands of others over the years on legs attached to this butt.
  • I can squat down, get up, move over there, roll over and do all sorts of handy motions because of my butt.

This is not to say that I do not work on making my rear view nice and strong.  I do.  But not because I hate it the way it is.  Because I don’t.

Is there a part of your body that you hate?  A part of your physique that you think is King Kong sized and utterly unacceptable?  Where did you get that idea from?  Did someone say something nasty to you years ago and you have been believing it ever since?

Well, let me ask you something game changing:  Is it helpful to you to hold those thoughts about your body?  Do those thoughts make you want to take care of yourself as the cherished vessel you are, or do they make you want to shrink back, hide, be mad at yourself, and eat some more cake?

What would your life be like if you believed your body is perfectly fine and acceptable?  How would it feel if you weren’t stuck on comparing yourself to others and always coming up short?  What if you believed that you have a right to take up the space that you do?

You can choose the thoughts you want to think.  You know that, right?  It’s even OK if you don’t entirely believe yourself at first.  You can just be “willing to believe” that your body is nice.

I love you Mommy and I know you never intentionally tried to shame me.  I can’t help it if you or others hold the opinion that my ass is large.  For years I believed you and I did feel ashamed of my shape.  I also allowed a classmate’s dig about my big nose in middle school to cause me years of nose shame, and a stranger’s opinion of my body- an effin’ stranger! – on the street in Manhattan one day, make me pray for the sidewalk to swallow me up.

But when I decided to be willing to accept myself, big nose, large body, round posterior and all, I found myself flying free of all the comparing, competing, shaming and struggling.  I could take care of myself with pride because I deserve to be well taken care of.  I no longer wanted to stuff myself down with junk food, and only exercise where people couldn’t see me and heaven forbid, be offended.

It was only when I declared myself Perfectly Fine, that I was able to get Even Better.

I think women are afraid that if they accept themselves as they are, they won’t have the motivation to change for the better.  I propose the opposite is in fact true.  Permanent positive change rarely comes from a place of negativity.  We only make and stick with those changes from the place where we love ourselves and deem ourselves worthy of the best.

 

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Tofu with Peanut Sriracha Sauce

It’s ironic that I most recently professed myself NOT a food blogger and yet my very next post is another food post.  Guess I got used to writing food posts after all!

I did not plan this one.  I found this dish on pinterest, cooked it for myself, and it was so good I wanted to share it with you all!

The original recipe can be found here.  I made a bunch of changes to suit my tastes and purposes.

The recipe does call for Sriracha, a Thai hot sauce, but you can use whatever hot sauce you want, even that suspiciously gloppy and neon “Chili Matok” they sell here in the supermarket.

A super simple, fast, and massively tasty dish!

Tofu with Peanut Sriracha Sauce

Tofu with Peanut Sriracha Sauce

Ingredients

    Tofu
  • 2 Tbsp peanut or coconut oil, divided
  • 3-4 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 box or bunch of spinach, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 carton of firm tofu (that's 300g here, bigger in the US, it doesn't matter)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp silan (date syrup) or other natural sweetener
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the tofu into thick strips. I got 7 strips from 300g of tofu.
  2. If you are using Israeli tofu, just lay the strips on paper towels to blot off any wetness.
  3. If you are using tofu in another country that is wetter or comes floating in water, please press the strips firmly between several layers of paper towel to get as much of the water out as possible.
  4. Leave tofu strips sitting on the paper towels until you need them.
  5. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large wok.
  6. Add the garlic pieces and saute for 1-2 minutes until starting to lightly brown.
  7. Add the spinach and cook 1-2 minutes until wilted.
  8. Remove the garlic spinach mixture to your serving plate and wipe out your wok.
  9. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil in the wok.
  10. Add the tofu strips and allow to cook a few minutes undisturbed before flipping and cooking on the 2nd side. Cook until lightly brown on both sides.
  11. While tofu is cooking, mix all sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  12. Pour sauce over cooked tofu and cook 3-4 minutes more, without stirring, until sauce thickens.
  13. Spoon tofu and sauce over the garlic spinach bed.
  14. Top with chopped green onions and serve.
  15. I had the leftovers cold the following day and they were just as delish!
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This post is participating in Wellness Weekend and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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Vegan MoFo 2013 Wrap-Up

last mofo

Why the camels?  Read on…

Twenty posts in one month. And not just any old month, but the holiday-heavy month of Elul.  Eighteen of the posts were recipe posts – which you can find with all of my recipe posts – on the recipe index page here.

Want to know what I learned from participating in this challenge?  Sure you do!

  • I learned that I am really not a food blogger, nor do I have any aspirations to BE a food blogger.
  • I also learned however, that food posts are what bring the traffic, you hungry foodies, you.  Lots and lots of traffic, Facebook followers, email list sign ups… and ultimately, clients.  Little Catch 22 right there.
  • I discovered that I can cook a gazillion dishes on one single day, photograph them, write the posts, and then set everything to automatic and go on vacation with my family.  I had a few moments of scrambling after wi-fi in the middle of the Arava Desert, but mostly everything handled itself without me.  The implications of that as a solo business owner are pretty exciting!
  • I met lots of great new blogger friends, found amazing new recipes, and generally fed off the massive sea of creativity a challenge like this inspires.

Now, before I slip back into blog obscurity, want to see some vacation photos?  Sure you do!

We spent the better part of last week down in Eilat, Israel’s swanky (or, something) resort at the very northern tip of the Red Sea.  It is a tiny triangle of land, as south as you can go before hitting the Egyptian border to the south, the Jordanian border a few miles across the sea, and the Saudi Arabian border a few miles down sea.

Eilat’s major claims to fame are the incredible coral reefs and brightly colored fishes, so naturally my part-dolphin family snorkeled until our lips were all stretched out and highly salted.  It were divine.

coral collage

Then we dragged our children at high speed behind a motorboat in a super deep sea filled with sharks.  This is considered good parenting, by the way.

raft

Just kidding about the sharks.  Sort of.  Apparently they keep them out of the swimming area with a net, heaven help.

We hiked through this amazing canyon at dusk and I was sure we would get lost in the gathering dark, be eaten by jackals, or kidnapped by white slavers.  I am so fun to vacation with!

hike

Then, one day we woke up and said “Let’s go to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan!” and so we did just that.

border crossing

Those stickers on our chests were from the tour organizer Fun Time Tours.  So basically I was a Western woman, walking around in a Muslim country with a sticker on my boob that said, “For A Fun Time, Call…”  I am not even joking.

This was my second trip to Jordan, the first being right after Jordan and Israel signed their US-brokered peace treaty in 1994.  Well, the Jordanians have done very well since making peace with Israel!  Everything looked beautiful, the economy seems to be thriving, there are tons of tourists, and the Jordanians we met were warm and friendly, calling us “cousins” and “neighbors”.  (At least to our faces).

The Red Rose city of Petra is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and rightfully so.  It is spectacular!

petra

Now, in keeping with the theme of Vegan MoFo, I have two vegan vacation items to share – one good, one bad.

First the good:  I had an amazing vegan lunch in Jordan!  When the guide found out I was vegan, he brought the chef out and they showed me exactly which dishes I could eat.  Rice stuffed veggies, all kinds of salads, and hummus.  Kind of amazing that all that can fit into my stomach, no?

jordanian lunch

The bad:  While we were in Eilat, we saw one of the massive ships that transport cows and sheep live from Australia to Israel to become dinner for Israelis.  In 2012 alone, Israel imported 64,000 cows and sheep from Australia.  Not only is this unspeakably cruel and inhumane, it has also generated 50,000 tons of greenhouses gases in just last year alone!!

cow boat

All so that people can eat animals that they do not need to eat for survival.  We have plenty of healthy food we can thrive on without using this gross amount of animal flesh.

I don’t write much about animal rights on this blog, but it IS the reason I am vegan.  I was literally revolted seeing the piles of meat served at dinner each night and the people, many overweight, probably many on high cholesterol meds, thoughtlessly shoving into their mouths the suffering of so many animals.  Not only unnecessary, but also causing human suffering and the destruction of our planet.

In the past month I have showed how easy and delicious it is to eat plant foods only.  Any dish made with meat, chicken, fish, dairy or eggs, can also be made vegan.  Travel anywhere in the world and you can find great things to eat made of plants.  There is no good reason to continue eating animals and many, many good reasons to stop.  Veganism is our future and our hope.

Thank you all for being here through my 2013 MoFo adventure.  I’ll be going back to once or twice a week posting with more content, less recipes.  I hope you will stick around!

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Tofu Shakshuka

Two more days of September and 2 more posts for Vegan MoFo 2013!  People, I am going to make it.

And today my lovely children have gone back to school, our holidays have come to an end, we are all back at work and dealing with the huge backlog that accumulated while we were off celebrating.  Remarkably, like a switch, the weather has turned a fraction cooler, we have had a few light rain showers (the first in almost 6 months), and many of us are also thinking “people, we are going to make it” in terms of having survived our loooong, hot summer.

Onward…

As you know, my MoFo theme this year was veganizing some of the Jewish foods of Israel.  We have had dishes from Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Egypt.  Today’s recipe, Shakshuka, comes from Tunisia.  The Jews of Israel have come from all over, truly a melting pot.  And I just highlighted the recipes of Arabic Jewry (Sephardic Jews) this time around!  I didn’t even get to the European Jewish dishes!  Next time maybe.

Shakshuka is Middle Eastern huevos rancheros – eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.  But no eggs for vegans, so of course, our shakshuka is made with tofu.  I cut the tofu into rounds to look egg-ish.  It tastes just as good as the “real thing” and is a whole lot healthier for both you AND the nice chickens!

shakshuka 1You never know how hot these peppers are.  It’s always a surprise!

Tofu Shakshuka

Tofu Shakshuka

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 hot pepper, cut into rings
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes, or chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 300 g firm tofu, cut first in half width-wise, then into rounds with a biscuit cutter or glass
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley and cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. Saute onion in oil until soft.
  2. Add garlic and peppers and saute 2 more minutes.
  3. Add cumin and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  4. Let cook uncovered 5-10 mins until slightly thickened.
  5. Gently place tofu rounds into tomato sauce mixture, cover the pan, and cook 10 more minutes
  6. Served topped with fresh chopped parsley and cilantro.
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