Monday, January 16, 2012

vegan living, recipes and mood

Long live veggies! I started getting organic veggies from a local co-oop - this is my first order. For just $18 I got 3 pounds of apples, 7 pounds zucchini (for Zukamole), 3 bunches of kale, one romaine lettuce, 1 greenleaf lettuce, 1 celery - not bad! It all looked really healthy and vibrant too.

Hi pumpkins - how is everyone? I've been cooking up a storm. I've been vegan for 3 weeks now, and have cut processed sugar totally out (will have the occasional raw ball - recipe below) and coffee (ok to be honest, I have had about 4 or 5 cups throughout the entire time, but not one every morn and night the way I used to! And most of these have been this past week...) So all in all, quite a change for me since I have a major sweet tooth. I can't say I feel all that energetic and clear-headed the way a lot of people say they do when they go vegan, or cut sugar out (though I already was vegetarian so it wasn't a huge change). I do love the food, and the recipes are delicious and fun to make, but I am trying to create a lifestyle/diet that I can live with rather than going on a "diet" per se. So it's an experiment. I have actually been really down lately, and not sure what is all going on there. However, I got a couple books from the library (including Change Your Brain Change Your Life which I'd read before during my post-divorce depression- and the other book by the same author Making a Good Brain Great by Daniel Amen, MD and I also skimmed The Mood Cure by Julia Ross which a naturopathic doc friend of mine recommended) - and through reading I realized a few things. One, we naturally gravitate towards sugar and starchy carbs for a serotonin boost. I was doing this A LOT in my "previous life" and the other thing is that meat, milk, cheese have building blocks for many brain proteins. So since I cut out 95% of my sugar (and all white, refined sugar), plus all milk/dairy at the same time (I used to have a major ice cream kick going on) plus I'm vegetarian so no meat.... I'm wondering if all these things aren't affecting my mood... Has that happened to anyone else going vegetarian/vegan or cutting out sugar? Did it change after a certain amount of time passed?

So, I decided to start taking 5-HTP - a supplement that is a precursor to serotonin and clinical studies show it works. In fact in Europe they give it as a prescription. So... we'll see if it helps. I have to say that depression is a very real thing and I believe it has both biological and psychological roots - not one or the other only... In fact the two books by Daniel Amen he pioneered brain imagery for people experiencing different psychological issues including depression and how they changed back after either meds, natural supplements, or various other techniques. The one main thing that stuck with me from the post-divorce-depression read of that book was to "stamp out the ANTS" and ANT=automatic negative thoughts. And I have always had a lot of ANTS! So I'm working on that... the trick is to totally STOP the thought in process when you catch it, but also to replace it with a positive thought. I sometimes can stop the ANTs, but I always have trouble with the positive part... I always thought I was more Winnie the Pooh but now I think I'm more Eeyore...

I have been better the past couple days. But if you ever have a friend experiencing serious depression, here is an amazing and helpful article from CNN Health - How to Save a Friend from the Brink, sent by my friend who said just what I needed to hear at the right time. I love my friends so much, and I have to say there are a hell of a lot of people who don't have any idea how to respond to someone in that much pain. Usually they ignore it, thinking it's not serious, even when you tell them it is. It's society's fault, I suppose, but do yourself a favor and go read that - and let someone in your life who is down know "you matter to me." I mean it - do it now! :) (It wouldn't hurt to tell me, while you're at it!) :)

With that, I'll leave you with some recipes that have kept me occupied. I cooked for hours on Sunday and then again today. One of my secrets to sticking to the vegan lifestyle is to have prepared salads and recipes in the fridge at any given time, so instead of grabbing the corn chips, you have a lot of healthy options - dehydrated kale chips (I've got some drying now!), Mediterranean salad with cukes and tomatoes, toasted quinoa and some beans for protein.
This is what my counter looked like earlier when I was prepping about 5 recipes at once! I made green juice, a huge salad (aka bowl of health), kale chips, and the Mediterranean cucumber-tomato-caper salad. And see below for three of my favorite recipes!

Cauliflower Steaks
I made these the other day - easy peazy.

1/2 a head of cauliflower
one fennel bulb
Olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Slice the cauliflower as you would cut a loaf of bread, making 1/2"-3/4" thick slices, two per person. (Now I don't know if there is some special way to do this so that the cauliflower actually stays together as a "steak". Mine kind of fell apart. But it still tasted great!) Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little oil. Sprinkle with parsley, cheese, salt and pepper. Cut fennel into slices and either bake on a separate dish or together with the cauliflower. (I've never roasted fennel but it is DELICIOUS! I love it raw in salads - it is the same thing as anise and has a slight licoricey taste but when roasted it doesn't. It really adds to the flavor with the cauliflower) You can save the green leafy top part and use it in salads, or in green juice! I use pretty much every part of every vegetable in my house...
Roast steak till golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Flip the slices, drizzle with a bit more oil and roast an additional 10-12 minutes, until browned and tender.

This is what it looks like before you put it in the oven, I didn't get a post-cooking version but Oh. My.God they are SOOOOO good! Both kids loved them too! Ding ding ding we have a winner!!! Next up...

Green Power Soup
1 c cucumber chopped
1 c celery chopped
3 c kale chopped
½ c carrot juice
1 zucchini chopped
2 T lime juice, or lemon
1 T chili powder
2 cloves garlic
2 t flax oil, or olive oil
½ t jalapeno
1 t Celtic Salt
½ c red bell pepper diced
½ c tomato diced
½ c avocado diced

In a high-speed blender, blend cucumber, celery, kale, carrot, zucchini, lime, chili powder, garlic, flax oil, jalapeno and salt. Hand mix in the red bell pepper, tomato and avocado (I didnt do this - I just added it in the blender. I also added about 1" ginger root, and about 1 additional Tablespoon lime juice).
I only used a tiny amount of jalapeno but this pepper must have been spicy because the soup is spicy! I like it spicy but it was interesting - glad I didn't add more! It was really good! Kind of like blended together gazpacho. Serve cold, of course, since it's a raw soup.
(Almost...) Raw Balls!
Makes 10 - 12 (or 24 if you make smaller balls...)

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup raw carob powder (if you can't find raw, regular is fine- that's what I used)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup almond butter (raw almond butter IF you want the recipe raw, obviously)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (I forgot this - oopsie!)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup whole almonds
2 cups shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1. Place the walnuts in a food processor & process until coarsely ground. Add the dates & pulse until well combined with the nuts.

2. Add the carob powder, maple syrup, almond butter, & salt. Process until mixture is thick & smooth.

3. Add the almonds, pulse a few times until combined, but you want them to remain in crunchy chunks so do not over process.

4. Form into golf-size balls with your hands. Roll the balls in coconut, unsweetened carob or unsweetened cocoa powder (I used carob for some and coconut for others).

The dough looks like this in the food processor. It sort of reminds me of the "energy nuggets" you can buy at Whole Foods and grocery store bulk sections. But better!

4. Place in a sealed container in the freezer until hardened.
Ta da! I eat them right out of the freezer and they're so good! In fact, before I cut out sugar, like during the Christmas holiday when I made these along with the truffles, and even my 1 "pre-clease week" (when I cut out dairy, MOST sugar but not coffee yet and not all sugar ie I had some soy ice cream, that kind of thing) - I would eat like 6 or more of these... now I can have one or max two and I'm totally satisfied. Trust me, that's huge progress!
Now go tell someone you love that they matter to you!

1 comment:

susan said...

Those raw balls might be good for my vegan hubby