Thursday, January 31, 2013

Taco Soup - Veggie Loaded!

I can't believe January is already coming to a close. As I try to grasp the harriedness of here and there, (mostly the yoga teacher training program commitment and facilitating a fabulously energetic group of plant based eaters), I noticed that my meals have included a lot less prep and a lot more "one dish wonders." Because afterall, busy is just busy and sometimes we have to tweak our approach to food and cooking.

So, welcome taco soup. Tacos are typically a standby weekday dinner, but sometimes all the chopping and piling on the toppings seems just as time consuming as a "fancier" meal. (I'm not the only lazy prep chef, right??) So, I figured, why not put all the goods in one heart warming bowl? The mild taco spice is balanced by the cool, creamy avocado garnish and crisp cornbread (or chips). 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cereality Check: How to Choose a Cold Breakfast Cereal

I have my standard cereal selection when I go into the massive cereal aisle. I'm not that old, and even I can remember when the cereal options took up a fourth of an aisle, if that. Now, an entire stretch of the store has brightly colored boxes neatly pressed from side to side and top to bottom. The funny thing is that most of the cereals are the same sugar, corn, enriched wheat (whole wheat if you're lucky), and salt. They may come in different forms. For example, sugar can be corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, brown rice syrup, cane syrup/juice, and/or malt syrup. Similar formulas but repackaged and reprocessed in a different shape to entice children or adults.

There are a few guidelines I like to give people when choosing cereals. I listed them in order of importance.

1. Greater than 3g fiber per serving (this is a very modest amount...the more fiber, the better!)
        Choose cereals with whole wheat and other whole grains as the fiber source, not isolated forms like chicory root that haven't been proven to have the same beneficial powers as other natural occuring fibers.

2. Pack in some protein - at least 3g per serving.
        Fiber and protein will help keep you going until lunch time as they take longer to digest. Automatically choosing a cereal with whole grains will increase the protein content as you consume the hull, or shell of the grain where most of the protein is located.

2 (equal importance as protein!). Added sugar should be a miniumum (if any) - choose one with less than 6g of sugar per serving.
         If you don't think it's sweet enough, add chopped fruit or frozen berries. Sprinkling cinnamon can help too.

3. Limit salt in cereals to less than 175mg per serving.
        Breakfast cereals in general are not a yeast/bread baking type recipe, thus there shouldn't be salt. Salt is added as a preservative and should be limited.

Below is a table of some commonly consumed cereals. What do you think? Do you see a cereal you consume that's a good option? Or maybe, you can find a better option than the one you're currently eating. Hint: only about 3 are dietitian approved. :)

General Mills Cheerios®
Post Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted
Post Shredded Wheat Original

Multi-Bran Chex®

GoLean® Original

Special K®

Kellogg’s® Raisin Bran®
Contains at least
3 g of fiber/ serving

Contains no more than 6 g of sugar/ serving


Contains no trans fat

Contains no more than
175 mg sodium

Contains at least
3 g of protein/ serving

**Note: a variety of brands were shown for demonstration purposes, but other great options include: Kellogg's Bran Buds, Kellogg's All-Bran, Uncle Sam's cereal (incredibly affordable stuff!), other Kashi GOLEAN cereals, and others!

Have more questions about choosing breakfast cereals? Email me!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Vegan (Whole-Lotta-Notta) Ricotta Stuffed Shells

The one thing I don't miss about skipping the cheese, dairy, and butter is the "pasta hangover." It's not the carbohydrates that make you feel weighed down. It's the fat and cholesterol laden sauces. Choosing plant based replacements leave you feeling light, energized, completely satisfied.

Turns out firm and extra firm crumbled has a similar texture as ricotta cheese. Add herbs, garlic, and onions and you have a vegan ricotta to use in lasagna, as a dip, or in stuffed shells.

Vegan (Whole-Lotta-Notta) Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Serves 6

1 pound jumbo shells
1 24oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce

Vegan Ricotta
1 12-14oz package firm or extra firm tofu (either the shelf stable tofu or refrigerated tofu will work here)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon miso paste (I prefer white miso)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 - 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 cup fresh spinach

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees farenheit.
2. Saute chopped onions and mushrooms in a skillet over medium heat until soft. Remove from heat.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add shells and cook about 12 minutes until tender. Avoid overcooking as they will cook more in the oven. Drain and let cool.
4. To make the ricotta, blend in a food processor (or other blender type) the onions, mushrooms, garlic, lemon juice, miso, basil, spinach, and pepper until a paste forms. Add a tablespoon of olive oil or water if too thick. Add tofu to mix and mash with a fork until ricotta texture is reached.
5. Pour a light layer of pasta sauce on bottom of 9x13 pan. Spoon ricotta mixture into the shells. Place stuffed shells in pan and then spoon more sauce on top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the shells are light brown on top and the ricotta is heated through, about an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with additional sauce if desired when serving. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy National Bean Day!

I just found out that today is National Bean Day. I should have a snazzy bean infused post ready to rock. The truth is, it's an insanely obscure holiday and right after the holiday spirit snatchers of Christmas and New Years, I will simply remind you why beans are a superior nutrition powerhouse!
Assorted Beans and Legumes

Friday, January 4, 2013

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

It's a New Year. This tends to be the time of year where we make goals because, whatever the goal is, it's something we think we need or don't currently have. To reach this goal and make it a part of our daily life, we have to work at it. Simply by setting a goal we are committing to potential frustrations and disappointments. And that's ok. Be ready for it and instead of giving up on whatever your goal may be, remind yourself that you set this goal for a good reason. You believe it will help you find the best version of yourself.