It's the funniest thing. Facebook friends. You know the ones from high school and junior high you haven’t seen a bajillion years? People seem to want to know where others have ended up in life. Where did Suzy smiles end up? I get it! We are curious. But do you know what question I get asked the most by people who haven't seen me in 25 plus years? "Are you still thin?" That's the burning question in people's minds after all these years! Second only to "Are you still married?" Ha! Yes, to both *smile*. They are legit questions. I mean, we all change. It’s part of life. But wouldn't it be nice to buy a little time and stay looking healthy and fit? You can if you learn how to cook healthy and delicious! You can be thin, get thin, and maintain a balanced, healthy body weight on a vegan diet and it’s so much easier and possibly more fun than you might think! Read on!
Growing up vegetarian and vegan, I have admittedly always been on the thinner side. It's kinda funny because my family really isn't considered "thin," but they didn't stay plant-based vegetarian or vegan either and they don’t enjoy quite as active of a lifestyle. Although there have been a few periods where I did have more weight than now- those were mostly my "party days"- and those didn't stick with me over the years once I began a more spiritual discipline and decided that exercise and eating plant based is an investment worth making both in the short term and long run.
For anyone contemplating a plant-based diet or if you keep trying and falling off the wagon- it's ok. It's a transition, and it can literally take years. So, don't beat yourself up if you aren't "perfect." I am not perfect either! Perfect is an illusion anyway! Have fun and go slow, and learn how to cook using your own “flair”. It will come in time.
I enjoy eating large meals and even breaking the rules on sweets and other things from time to time, but in all honesty, I have always been drawn to a plant-based healthy eating lifestyle for the most part. I'd say that's the one thing I can attribute to my lean frame. I also enjoy an active lifestyle. For me working out is a lifestyle and mindset. I enjoy a hike, a swim, camping, and playing in the river- on a regular basis- you know, something outdoors and refreshing!
Practically anything can be fun with the right attitude. Fun for me is learning a new skill, seeing unique scenery, and especially creating something with my hands be it food or music. That's super fun for me. There are many other things that I like to do too, but those are the easy everyday things that bring daily joy and happiness into my life, so I tend to schedule them regularly. I tend to get a little "down" and "cranky" if I don't exert decent amounts amounts of energy in those areas regularly.
It's the same with cooking. It's enjoyable! I get kinda cranky and “off” feeling when I eat out too much too. I enjoy the taste of freshly made natural foods. But I also like the way those foods make me feel. Good! I get so much out of creating dishes and other people get to share the joy as well.
I also like celebrating with food! Food can be a simple way to use your creative imagination and eyes to create delicious meals for yourself, friends and family. Just play with color- it's an art! Besides where there's food, there's usually people, and I love people and laughter, and the three usually go together in my book!
Taste is important too, and sometimes when first starting to eat or prepare healthy meals, people don't know where to start and it ends up rather bland. Some people don’t yet realize that healthy plant based cooking is a lot like so called “regular cooking”. Once you learn the basic “substitutions” its really inspiring! There’s cheese substitutes, meat substitutes, sugar substitutes, milk substitutes, and even egg substitutes! Once you transition from a meat diet using those cheats, you can even go further into the wild! It really not cheating btw but it feels like it because its so darn good!
Lately, my husband and I created a way to make sure we eat healthily and at home since we are saving for a house build. We do this by prepping our healthy food ahead of time and having it cut up and ready for our meals for the entire week. It's been so helpful to have the food preps ready and ideas pinned up on the refrigerator so we don't have to decide what to cook every single day. It can take from 20-45 minutes to prep ahead once a week and it gets easier and easier with practice and patience.
We both have super busy schedules. We have fun helping each other depending on who's doing what in a given week. Meal planning helps us get more accomplished in the week too and that creates a more positive "connection together time," as well. You might squabble a little sometimes, but if you don't take yourself too seriously, you learn that you both are pretty funny sometimes. I mean, who the heck cares how you cut a tomato, right? Just roll with it.
Having a meal plan ahead of time is a great way to stay healthy & trim without even trying. I honestly NEVER count calories or think about that stuff! Just eat plants! That means beans, soups, tacos, and so much more! Salads are very important too- big beautiful multi-colored ones. Include them with meals and you will burn off everything if you do too. If you’re plant based that is.
We like to cook in our home. Both of us come from ethnic backgrounds. My husband is a really creative cook too, and I don't think I can say that either one of us is better than the other. We complement each other and learn from each other. With cooking, I have found the more mistakes you make, the better you get and not to let that get in the way. Both of us have messed up dishes and had to laugh it off. You learn, you adjust. The fun part is getter better and better until one day people refer to you as "a really good cook!" I kinda dig that role.
What about you? Do you like to cook? Here's some inspiration if you are just getting started or wonder how you can enjoy the leaner side of life while not compromising taste and enjoyment! If you already cook then enjoy some free vegan recipes below! You'll be more healthy and trim and enjoy higher spirits with a more living plant based vegan and active lifestyle.
Check out these awesome pics from our meals last week! We had so much fun making (and eating!) these easy dishes! Dim Sum and Vegan Lasagna! Both dishes did not disappoint either! Check em out below!
You know Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and with limited travel and leisure due to the pandemic, there are ways to make the day a lot of fun. Cook together! Here's some tips.
I like to look at what we already have in the house and go from there. There's no reason you have to spend oodles of money to eat vegan and healthy. Keeping it simple and even creating a budget is all fair game and helps take the pressure off. It forces one to get creative! Best week I am making vegan cheese!
Layered vegan lasagna is so easy! It just takes knowing what to add and how to cook the pasta sheets beforehand. The key to a good lasagna is having at least some fresh ingredients. You can cheat on the sauce if you must, but you will have an even better lasagna if you add some real tomatoes and fresh herbs. Here's the basic to my vegan lasagna. I can't tell the difference from the real thing, and neither can anyone else. It's flippin' fabulous!
MICHELLE'S 100% VEGAN LAYERED LASAGNA
A good tip for making your vegan lasagna is to add a little sauce to the pan's bottom before you start layering the ribbons of pasta. The second tip I can give you is to boil the noodles beforehand to a harder al dente. The reason for a harder noodle is that when you go to layer with your sauce, crumbled tofu, and other items (like fresh tomato, etc.,.- it can make the noodles overly watery. Some people don't boil the noodles at all, they bake them hard. I boil lightly not allowing them to get overly soft or watery.
I crumbled up two vegan sausages (and lightly layered it on a few layers). I added the tofu but wanted the tofu "white looking" so it would look and feel like ricotta cheese. I didn't overdo the additions into tofu other than a few onions and garlic and some bell pepper and salt. You can use TVP in place of sausage in which case I would add it to the red sauce or omit it entirely if you want.
Then I layered the noodles with sauce, tofu, artichoke hearts (leaves pulled apart and spaced out), spinach, fresh tomatoes, basil, herbs, etc., then I added a ribbon layer of noodles. You can repeat this three times, leaving the 3rd layer open (no noodles), and add your vegan melting “cheese" to the top with a few beautiful large cut hamburger style cut tomatoes.
I also added some lemon juice to the tofu along with some of the ingredients mentioned. Then cover with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Your belly will thank you, and you'll still have a great figure because there's nothing fattening in there! It's all plants!
Michelle & Davids Vegan Dim Sum.
I had been looking casually for an Asian cookbook when I would go thrift shopping, and I finally snagged one after searching for about two years! I couldn't believe how easy Dim Sum was! All this time, it was such a mystery in my mind! I used to eat it often in San Francisco (the best) an dreamed about it, and boy were we happy when we made these last week! Super easy and super fun! Completely vegan too!
Here are a few extra pictures to help you see the process.
You pack the inside (dough square) with whatever you like (see below for ideas) and wet the dough's sides, then fold.
This part does take a little practice, and I honestly just made it up, but I think I may have seen a little something on TV once, and it was in the back recesses of my mind.
I pinched then folded the sides like a lacy ribbon-it's hard to describe. Here's a picture.
Just play around until you can close the folds and make a shape you like. It's going into a steamer so, in the end it's just a lovely looking different ravioli. I'd say the biggest tip is not overfilling the dough square and maybe even under-filling it at first, and to gently wet the perimeter of the dough square beforehand.
For the inside, we used edamame, peas, cabbage, carrot, onion, garlic, ginger, coconut aminos, and a drip of sesame seed oil. You can use whatever tickles yer fancy. The dampness helps seal things up. But too much water or not enough- will break the dough, too so, easy does it. Keep the place where you set the dough square down dry while you fill-up the dough squares. I used a little water dish, dipped my fingers into it, and dabbed to the "square" outside the perimeter. I then filled the ravioli like dum sum dough up with the cabbage mixture above.
Everyone has their little extra things they add and their own process, but these are general ideas for both recipes. Play around and make it yours! Enjoy! You can buy the sim sum dough squaresvalready made called "Won Ton" wraps by Nasoya brand or make your own. The ingredients are easy. It's just flour, salt, and water. You can also use rice wraps! Steam for about 8-15minutes depending on your stove and steamer.
Enjoy and don't forget the sauces and chopsticks! A side of jasmine rice is nice too! The joy of cooking simple tasty and healthy is you will stay thin, healthy, and vegan without even thinking about it! Bon a petite!