Our blog has moved to a temporary url! Redirecting...

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pasta Ariabiata and Some Serious Weights

This recipe is an adaptation of a spicy Italian arabiata sauce - that originally included 1/4 cup of olive oil...You will not miss it, however; it's really flavorful - rich and creamy. Easy to make: just blend a bunch of things up.

Pasta Arabiata with Baby Broccoli
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 large mushroom caps (optional)
  • 2 zucchini, cut in 1 inch slices
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 5 oz whole wheat penne
  • baby broccoli (broccolini, broccoli rabe...whatever)
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. Blend first 6 ingredients in food processor or blender til smooth
  2. Add tomato paste, blend
  3. Add mushrooms, zucchini, and corn and blend, adding water if it gets too thick
  4. Cook penne and drain and steam baby broccoli until tender but crisp; meanwhile, heat sauce on low.
  5. Mix everything up and sprinkle with nutritional yeast if desired.
Served with two big bowls of salad with avocado and (rinsed) black olives apiece.

I haven't had time to write-up my workouts BUT I have been seriously pushing the envelope lately, getting 90 lbs on bench (not bad considering I now weigh 111 lbs!), 75 lbs on shoulder press, and 70 lbs on military press! 75 doesn't sound like a lot, but that's 2/3 of my body weight - pretty insane in general to push that much weight up with mere shoulders and especially so considering I started out with two 5 lb dumbells...

Tomorrow I try for a 95 lb bench press, wish me luck!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ranting about Recipes and Some...Recipes

I should probably mention that most of the recipes I post are just modifications of things I've always made or from cookbooks or websites that may or may not even be vegan to start with. Some recipes lend themselves easily to modification, like the soup below where all I really had to do was omit the 1/4 cup olive oil and salt, or a pasta recipe for which more vegetables can be swapped out with the excess of pasta.

There's really no way, though, without the fat and salt in most vegan recipes out there, to make things taste like the rich and salty dishes that are the staple of the American diet. It's been a good 7 year process for me, letting that go. It's all too easy to mimic things like real ground beef or even fettucine alfredo - there's super fatty vegan cream and margarine and imitation parmesan out there that I'd dare someone to distinguish from the real thing in a blind taste test. I've made empanadas - deep-fried Argentinean savory pastries stuffed with ground beef, olives, and egg - by cooking the fake ground beef in a ton of oil and salt, brought them to company potlucks and no one could tell they weren't the "real" thing. I didn't tell them, they didn't ask, and the whole pile was always gone by evening's end. So when people wrinkle their noses at the thought of "vegan food" (which is really just food...) ever being able to pleasure their overstimulated taste buds the way "real food" can, it's generally a lack of realization that they're addicted to the taste of fat and salt. Put enough of that on anything and it'll taste just great. It makes me cringe when I'm searching through recipes on sites like Allrecipes.com and see vegetable dishes with descriptions such as "My kids hate broccoli and carrots, but they always ask for this healthy dish!" and go on to read the recipe which inevitably involves drenching them in 2 cups of cheddar cheese or something.

I think the reason why so many vegan recipe sites and books out there devote most if not all of their space to mimicking the unhealthy foods we all know and love is to prove to the world that we're not making any monk-like sacrifices here, we can eat just like everyone else. And so we end up boxing ourselves in to the same narrow selection of foods, when in reality the "vegan diet" includes the lion's share of options - an incredible variety of grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits...how many kinds of meats and cheeses are there?

Anyway, this recipe, posted at Allrecipes, for Greek Lentil Soup required very little tampering. Instead of 1/4 cup of olive oil I used 1 tsp, used a packet of low sodium vegetable broth (bouillion would work as well) in the water, and omitted the salt. Still delicious.
We enjoyed it with 1 lb steamed green beans and some whole-wheat pita - half each - with greens and hummus from the recipe section of Eat to Live:

Tasty Hummus Spread or Dip
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, or 1 cup cooked
  • 1 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup bean liquid or water
  • 1 tsp horseradish (optional)
Blend all in a blender or food processor. Great for dipping raw baby carrots and broccoli in.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Weights, Nutrition, and Beer

The past week has been rather crazy. With school winding down, finding time to post has proven difficult. The same goes for working out, so my last 'official' workout was a chest+back day (shown below), and what has followed since are whatever workouts I've been able to fit in between work and class.
I have been continuing on an extended bodybuilding phase to aid in my goal of gaining a few pounds of muscle. I have been having the vegan weight gainer recipe daily and feel like it is really helping me add lean weight without all the discomforts of powders.

Nutritional Notes:
More on why we avoid animal protein: Here's a (disturbing) glimpse of the book I keep recommending, Eat To Live, showing some of the multitude of informative graphs and charts it contains. The pictures below come from Dr. Fuhrman's blog.

If you are a skeptic who needs the source of such information (good for you!) I urge you again to purchase the book or view one of the of sites below, all packed with research, such as:

Saved By Nutrition

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

and, of course:


After you've done your reading, or if you can take such information on my word, you should be well on your way to incorporating more fresh produce into your diet. The literature says it all. With such a clear correlation between too little unrefined plant intake and America's #1 and #3 killers (heart disease and cancer), it's no wonder our fridge looks like this:

And, if you are wondering about what I've got circled here, just remember:

"Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer."
- Arnold Schwarzenegger

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2 Recipes!

So sleepy...Anyway here's 2 recipes:

LUNCH: Made from the random survivors of our fridge-not-working ordeal.
Stir-fries are good for those random remnants of groceries left over at the end of the week type days when you have to produce something out of nothing.

"Fried Rice" with Tofu, Cabbage, and Zucchini
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 16 oz bag green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 zucchini (can be replaced by whatever vegetables are handy)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • sesame oil
  1. Slice vegetables. Saute in small amount of water or 1/2 tsp oil til cooked thru - depends on what veggies you use. Sprinkle with pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, cook brown rice.
  3. Transfer vegetables to a plate and add tofu to the pan, mashing it up. The mashed tofu replaces the egg in the usual fried rice - it's actually very similar in texture and taste to egg white.
  4. Add everything back to pan, and rice, and sprinkle with reduced sodium soy sauce
  5. When ready to serve, pour a very small amount of sesame oil on top - Trader Joe's has a delicious "Wasabi drizzling sauce" that's got some bite.
Here's one of the practice problems I encountered today:
"Curly buys a 6 month 50 strike-price European call option from Moe with a premium of $7.43. The risk-free interest rate is 6.5% convertible semiannually. For what spot price at expiration is Moe's profit zero?"
I guess it's nice that they at least try to keep it amusing.


Just a simple tomato sauce rotini dish with some steamed "dinosaur" kale. And of course salad.

Tomato Sauce (with TVP - follow link to see TVP to ground beef nutrition comparison)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, cut lengthwise then chopped
  • 1/2 red and 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, low sodium
  • 1 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • bay leaf, oregano, basil, garlic powder, pepper
  1. Heat oil and saute next 3 ingredients about 5 minutes
  2. Add crushed tomatoes and spices
  3. Partially cover pot and simmer for at least 30 minutes
  4. Add TVP and simmer an additional 5 minutes
This was served with 5 ounces of whole-wheat rotini between the two of us, and there were leftovers. I don't think I ever eat more than 2 oz of processed grains at a time now. Oh, and some green beans were cut up and tossed in right before serving because they were there.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Split Pea Soup, Seitan Stir-Fry, and How to Use Warcraft to Jump-Start Your Career


Thanks to Derek's client who so thoughtfully brought him fresh greens, tomatoes, and peaches from a local farmer's market as a birthday present! Because of that we got to enjoy salads despite our fridge being on the fritz and spoiling most of our fresh food really fast.

TVP & Tofu Soft Tacos
  • 1/2 cup TVP
  • 1 pckg firm tofu
  • 1/2 lb frozen spinach
  • 1 cup frozen roasted corn (optional)
  • low carb whole wheat tortillas (Trader Joe's reduced carb has only 50 calories each)
  • avocado sliced
  • salsa of choice
Yet another variation on the taco theme. I used to make breakfast burritos a lot with tofu packaged soy sausage which is admittedly delicious but high in sodium - this is my healthier version.

  1. Rehydrate the TVP in a little more than 1/2 cup hot water. Add sausage seasonings: breakfast sausage is usually seasoned with sage, thyme, red pepper flakes or cayenne. Or for a more taco meat-ish seasoning add chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne.
  2. Heat up a pan sprayed with cooking spray and add frozen spinach and corn. Cover and cook til not frozen - usually just a few minutes.
  3. Mash up the tofu - I usually just do it in the pan. Add everything else to pan and cook for a while longer.
  4. Serve in some warmed up wraps with avocado and salsa. Or omit the wraps for more of a huevos rancheros type thing.
Eat with 2 big bowls of salad; pictured below are the greens gifted to Derek - they even included some edible flowers!

I think one thing I would love to do is get a nutrition program that I could enter my recipes into and get a breakdown of their stats and also an overall daily nutrition analysis of our diet...


Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 cups split peas (green or yellow)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cube low sodium vegetable bouillon or
  • 1 Tbsp yellow curry powder
  • thyme and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups water
  1. In a medium pot, saute onions in 1 Tbsp water.
  2. Add everything else. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low for about 1 hour.
  3. Mash everything up with a potato masher or blend in batches in a blender/food processor.

I'm not sure what to call the main course...

How about:
Seitan and Bell Pepper Stir Fry

  • 1 recipe for seitan
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • pepper, crushed RED pepper, salt-free seasoning
When I decided to be nice and make something with seitan so I could post the recipe for one of Derek's co-trainers I had no clue what I was going to do with it. This random assemblage turned out to be really good. It didn't need much seasoning since the seitan is pretty flavorful.

  1. Saute onion and bell peppers in 2 Tbsp water til translucent.
  2. Add seitan, tomatoes, and seasonings and simmer for a bit, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add brown rice and mix.
Although seitan is pretty easy to make using the recipe I posted, you may just want to buy it packaged. I believe the Morningstar brand "chicken" and "beef" strips varieties are widely available in the frozen natural foods section of local supermarkets, and the White Wave brand is available in the refrigerated natural foods section - looks like a tofu package. Those varieties have a ton of sodium, though.


Because I usually include some rambling, and I am pretty tired now that I'm in my test prep phase, I'd like to share one of my corporate networking secrets with any other rung-grabbers out there: start playing a MMORPG like oh, say... World of Warcraft, and then tastefully decorate your cube/office with game paraphenalia.

I can almost guarantee that more people will stop by to chat with you about the game, or similar games they've played, than you'd have dreamed possible, and it's surprising that so many senior management and even C-level people play. Maybe it's because it's so difficult to have a real social life in the corporate world, or maybe it's just that the finance and actuarial fields attract an inordinate amount of dorks - whatever it is, it's been an unexpectedly great networking tool!

Who would have thought that a mere entry-level could impress a C-level with the fact that she is a Warlord in the realm of Kul Tiras...but, there it is.

Labels: , , ,

Discovery: Vegan Weight Gainer!

During my recent quest to put on a couple pounds of muscle, I have found it hard to get enough calories in without eating tons of shakes or bars because of my crazy schedule.I don't like or recommend getting a lot of calories from shakes or bars because they are highly processed and often have less than optimal nutrition stats. When my search for a vegan whole-food weight-gainer yielded nothing, we began experimenting...

And the result is a weight gainer shake with mostly whole-food ingredients and excellent nutrition stats:


INGREDIENTS (Calories/Carbs/Protein/Fat/Fiber):

  • 2 tbsp hulled sunflower seeds (105/4/4/9/2)
  • 1/4 TVP [textured vegetable protein] (80/7/12/0/4)
  • 1 scoop NitroFusion, or similar protein powder (190/9/25/2/2)
  • 1 cup soymilk (90/7/7/3.5/1)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 banana (121/31/1/0/4)
  • 1 can canellini beans, rinsed [aka white kidney beans] (420/73/28/0/35)
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar (43/11/0/0/0)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • [optional] cocoa powder to taste

Total stats: 1049 calories, 142g carbs, 77g protein, 14.5g fat, 48g fiber


Add first 2 ingredients to blender and process to a powder.

Add remaining ingredients and blend for at least 2 minutes, adding more cold water while blending if the shake is too thick.

I know it may look questionable, but it actually tastes quite good and packs a much better nutrient punch than your average gainer shake!

A Word of Caution: If you are not used to eating high fiber foods (like beans) I would try half shakes or even smaller portions at first. This shake contains a whopping 48g of fiber from whole foods, (roughly twice the recommended daily allowance which most Americans still don't get) and if you are not used to it you will have indigestion and gas, guaranteed. These are not signs that you should avoid such foods, these are signs that your diet is deficient in fiber. Once your body is used to high fiber fruits, vegetables, and legumes they won't cause you any trouble.

So, if you're looking to add a few pounds but don't want to choke down another powder gainer, give this one a shot!

Labels: , ,

Hail Seitan - ultra low carb and low fat, high protein meat alternative

First off let me just say that the nutrition stats for seitan, like TVP, are great for anyone trying to get lots of protein with no fat and low sodium. It's made primarily from Vital Wheat Gluten, which has 23 grams protein per 1/4 cup and 120 calories...and that's pretty much it - only 6 grams carbs. The recipe below uses 3/4 cups, so that's 69 grams protein!

If you plan on eating it more than once during the week, I recommend doubling the recipe and storing as needed.

Seitan (Wheat Meat)
Adapted from a recipe found at the Postpunk Kitchen recipe site
Dry ingredients
Wet ingredients
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Broth for simmering
  • 4 cups cold water
  • vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
In separate bowls mix wet and dry ingredients before combining and stirring with a stiff spatula til it forms into a ball. Knead for 3 minutes and let rest a few minutes.

Roll seitan into a log shape and cut in 3 pieces. Drop into cold broth and heat to boiling. Turn down heat to med-low, cover partially with lid, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Cut into whatever size pieces you need.

For "steaks" or roasts:

For stir-fries or pasta dishes:

Labels: , ,

Noodle-less Lasagna

Things are a little crazy: my next exam, on financial math and derivatives markets, is coming up in August. Preparation is of an intensity similar to an athlete (like a bodybuilder!) gearing up for a contest; memorization of formulas and graphs during every spare moment, 3 hour practice exams simulating the real thing at least three times a week, working 30 problems a day, maintaining a positive mindset, buying a spare calculator...it just wouldn't make for an interesting montage set to inspirational music.

Anyway, for dinner the other night I made a lasagna without noodles, kind of a combination of eggplant parmesan and, well, lasagna.

Eggplant Parmesagna

Ingredients list:
  • eggplant
  • 1/2 lb frozen or fresh broccoli
  • 1 pckg firm tofu
  • 1/2 pckg soft tofu
  • jar of no salt, low fat tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
  • oregano, pepper, salt replacer

  1. Slice eggplant into thin disks and arrange on baking sheets. Bake at 350 for around 20 minutes. Meanwhile, steam broccoli til crisp but tender.
  2. Mash up tofu with a potato masher. Add 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (found in bulk bins at Ellwoods or Ukrops). It's optional, but it imparts a cheesy flavor and is rich in B vitamins. Add oregano and other spices
  3. Finely chop broccoli and add to tofu mixture.
  4. Pour sauce on bottom of pan (I used a crockpot dish because I have no 9x13 baking dish). Arrange eggplant slices in a layer to cover. Spread some of the tofu mixture on top. Layer with more eggplant. Pour sauce over that
  5. Repeat until all used up.
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 45 minutes, then remove foil and back for an additional 15 minutes.

Served with 1/2 lb steamed green beans and 2 big bowls of hearts of palm salad apiece.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Birthday Muscles

The strain of my birthday was such that I could not post until now. I have had a couple hurried mini workouts, but my last real one was on the 15th, and is listed below.

Aside from the workouts being less-than-optimal, it has been a fantastic few days with much fun and frivolity. Well, okay, a little fun and frivolity. Now you might ask yourself, what does a personal trainer/almost bodybuilder/nutrition 'enthusiast' get for his birthday? The answer should be obvious: Arnold Paraphernalia!! As you can see below, this year I must have been good because everyone really delivered:

So the birthday was clearly a success. Now our weight room will be properly adorned with the inspiring images of Arnold. Stay tuned for some amazing gains.

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fun Food Facts and a Chili Recipe

Derek's birthday put some posting on hold (what an attention hog!)

but here's some catchup stuff:

Lunch was leftovers with a *special* salad with hearts of palm and also edamame. Usually there are no leftovers when Derek's around...

Anyway, there's usually steam-in-bag edamame in the frozen section, sometimes already lightly salted as is this Trader Joe's variety.

was a July tradition, burgers and fries and chili. Except that our burgers were of the Dr. Praegor vegetable variety, with no more than 1 whole-wheat bun per person, and the fries were unsalted sweet potato spears with some balsamic vinegar and salt-free seasoning sprinkled on top and baked about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Now the chili was based on the Vegetarian Chili recipe in Eat to Live. I omitted the celery since
we didn't have any, used jarred roasted peppers since we used up all our fresh bells, and used no salt low fat marinara instead of crushed tomatoes because we were out of that too.

Vegetarian Chili
  • Big can kidney or pinto beans
  • 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped red onion
  • 2 cups chopped green or red peppers
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

Directions: Combine all ingredients and cook for an hour. Pretty easy!

TVP is an excellent replacement for ground meat, and can be found in the bulk bins of Ellwood Thompson's or Ukrops, or the Bob's Red Mill brand packages can be found in the natural food sections of other stores.

I'm accustomed to backing up my assertions with some kind of numerical analysis, so I decided to apply a little of that here in comparing the nutritional facts of TVP and extra lean ground beef.

Would you look at that?! The calories aren't that far off, but where they come from is vastly different. The grams of protein are almost equal but when you eat even extra lean ground meat, nearly half of what you're getting out of it is just fat. Ratios are so much more telling than units sometimes. Let's not even get started on the mineral and fiber deficiencies of the ground meat vs TVP.

Examining things like this validate what I've read in the aforementioned book, like this quote:
"The Chinese eat about 270 more calories per day than Americans, yet they are invariably thin. Exercise cannot fully explain this difference, as researchers discovered the same thing with Chinese office workers as well...The data suggests that when a very low fat diet is consumed(15% average dietary fat in rural China), as compared to the typical Western diet (30-45% of calories from fat) more calories are burned to convert carbohydrate into fat, so the body cannot store fat easily."

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Moroccan Food and Relative Muscularity

For lunch we went to go to Cous Cous, and incidentally, if you live in RVA and get a Val-Pak in your mailbox every month, there will always be a buy-one-get-one-free coupon in there for this place. They have delicious tea, and Moroccan food, which is also delicious.

We each got salads with sauteed wild mushrooms and pine nuts (amazing).

They have "familia meze" dishes for sharing, pretty much like tapas, and there are a goodly amount of options that are nothing but vegetables and protein!

Derek had a luscious (but too rich for me to order) Moroccan pot pie stuffed with tofu, nuts, apricots, and vegetables and I got portabella caps stuffed with tofu and sweet bell pepper and basil. Damn, they were tasty. We also ordered lentil soup because I was afraid I'd still be hungry with just stuffed mushrooms and a salad, but again I underestimated the food and was really full. When will I learn? I'm thinking of hosting our farewell party for the summer interns here, partly because it's awesome, and partly as revenge against all the Cheesecake Factory devotees who mock my "weird" diet.

I swear one of these days at work, when someone does that and waxes on about protein and how can I get enough, etc...I'm going to roll up my shirtsleeve, glance at my flexed bicep, reach over and gingerly feel their sure-to-be underdeveloped arm...clear my throat and say "SO anyway, as you were saying?"

No, I would never do that...the absurdity of it all just makes me laugh.

So, for dinner...yes I really did just make fajitas again. It's what Derek wanted, but I did veto his choice of black beans in favor of pinto beans.

I sliced up bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms and salted them just a bit and peppered them, and cooked the beans with minced onion and garlic and secret hobo spices.

Actually, not really, just cumin and garlic powder.

I also steamed vegetables...

It must be my Hispanic background or something, but I could eat these every day.

It was another shoulder day and no clean and press, what was I thinking? I also feel like I forgot a superset in there somewhere...oh well. Still a pretty "gnarly" workout as Derek would say.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More big weights, and now on to something better

My final routine of this power phase is completed. I threw legs in with arms because the routine for them will remain the same until my knee feels 100%. I'd like to give more thanks to Marcella for her great spotting while I attempted and achieved my new 135lb barbell curl 1 rep max. The rest of the workout was lackluster, as you can see below:

Tomorrow I get to move back to my favorite, the bodybuilding phase. The Bodybuilding style of training is focused around maximum muscle stimulation and fiber recruitment to stimulate muscle growth. This is achieved by lifting a moderately heavy weight for 8-12 repetitions through the longest possible range of motion and over the greatest variety of angles. I also like to superset opposing muscle groups (such as biceps with triceps) during this phase to keep intensity high while simultaneously stretching whichever muscle I'm not using. I picked up these techniques from a book (The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding) written by one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A brief, though important, nutritional note:
Many viewing this may wonder why I advocate avoiding animal products. I plan to discuss the 'how's and 'why's in as much detail as I can when I have more time, but for the moment I'd like to start by saying that animal products are scientifically proven to be dangerous to long term health. I am certainly not saying animal foods are the only unhealthy foods out there, but they are high on the list of foods to be reduced and/or avoided if long term health and a better figure are your priorities.

Dr. T Colin Campbell, Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Cornell University and author of The China Study puts it well when he states:

"...animal protein has a quick and major impact on enzymes involved with the metabolism of cholesterol. Whether it is the immune system, various enzyme systems, the uptake of carcinogens into cells, or hormonal activities, animal protein generally only causes mischief"

I will supply more information, as well as supporting graphs and information in future posts, but suffice to say that the researchers I cite and the studies they themselves cite all indicate that animal products are a danger to your health. If you are a vegetarian consuming dairy products or an omnivore, it would be wise to reduce your intake in these harmful foods in favor of... you guessed it - fruits and vegetables! (and legumes, raw nuts, mushrooms, and whole grains of course)

So until next time, eat your beans & greens!

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 13, 2009

Actually I've lost 6 lbs of fat in 3 1/2 weeks...

As a revision to an earlier post on weight lost, I've actually lost 6 lbs in 3 1/2 weeks, not 5 weeks. It's certainly felt like 5 weeks with the long work days...Anyway, my pounds of muscle have remained constant, according to our fancy scale, over that time period.

Lunch: We are fond of our variations on wraps and burrito type things. For me, it's the almost mandatory avocado that makes them irresistible. That and the fact that they take 15 minutes or less to assemble from random components. I used to go crazy with baking my own bread and making pasta and doing everything from scratch and by the book...before I became so big and important with a real grown-up job. Now I just slop the trough!

Dinner was another melange of various recipes that I like, based mostly on an Italian peasant soup I used to make that my best friend and I called the "Soup of the Evening" (from Alice in Wonderland, where the turtle sings the refrain "Soup of the evening...Beautiful sooooo-oOUP"?)

Think of it as a cross between the aforementioned soup and pasta puttanesca.

As usual I only made 5 oz of whole-wheat pasta ( we have a crappy plastic kitchen scale)- it looks like a lot more in the picture.

Into the pan went:
  • 2 14.5 oz cans no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
I cooked that for a while, then added:
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • a cube of frozen fresh basil (available at Trader Joe's!)
  • 1 can of cannellini (I prefer Great Northern beans, but eh)
Cooked that for a while longer, then added the pasta. I further cut down on prep time by microwaving a bag of brussels sprouts, as per the bag directions. And we had the ever-present 2 big bowls of salad apiece.

I never mention the fruit we eat, but we also eat a lot of that throughout the day, like today it was Rainier cherries (much sweeter than nasty old red cherries) and plums and a clementine. A better afternoon snack than the chocolate soy pudding cups and english muffins of yore.

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fun in the Fan and Food

Sunday was our day-about-town; we rode our bikes around and ate and went shopping in Carytown- it was a rare and fabulous treat.

For lunch and coffee we hit up Crossroads in the Fan...back when I worked in the physics department at VCU I would walk over there in the afternoon, get a delicious latte, and grade papers for quantum physics with my trusty, much-used red pencil...Ah, the memories of simpler times. I don't think I ever spent an afternoon there without randomly meeting up with friends.

As we did this time - that's my friend Danielle pictured on the left, singer for local band The Hotdamns - Richmond's best alt-country! Have a listen.

We each got salads topped with blackened tofu and the squash soup of the day, and sugar-free soy lattes of course. Both the tofu and soup were really flavorful and the soup was unabashedly spicy; I'd had doubts about going out and just ordering soup and a salad but we actually had to walk our bikes for a while because I was too full. To top the afternoon off, they had about 10 books by one of my favorite science fiction authors at Creatures 'n Crooks a local sf and fantasy book shop with a big fluffy gray cat that likes dogs. Dogs like our dog Gretchen.

Mmmm, stuffed eggplant - one of my favorites.
This recipe was adapted from one in
Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. If you don't have a large slow cooker, just cook it in a pan in the oven at about 375 for like an hour. Poke it with something periodically to see when it's tender but not so tender it falls apart.

  • 1 eggplant, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup lentils, cooked & drained
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat grain of some sort - I used quinoa, but bulgur or brown rice is good too
  • 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 c water
  • salt-free seasoning or small amount of salt and pepper to taste
Scoop out the inside of the eggplants, leaving shells about 1/4 in thick and chop up the flesh. Saute it in a bit of water with the next 3 ingredients about 5 minutes.

Mix it all up with the lentils and the grain of choice.

Add salt and pepper or salt replacer.

Put the shells in crockpot or pan and stuff them with filling.

Mix up the remaining ingredients and pour over top.

Cook in crockpot on low for 4 to 5 hrs or in oven at 375 for 1 hr. That's it! It looks fancy, but it's not too hard to put together and it's quite filling I think partly due to the spiciness.

Labels: , ,

My Weight Loss So Far

Here's an interesting thing: even though I can't say I've really made any special effort to lose weight over the seven years that I've been vegan, I have lost a lot. Most of it very slowly over 5 years of not even exercising or eating well, and the last chunk of it very swiftly while working out and gradually improving our diet. I think it was about a year ago or so that I decided I was actively going to try to lose body fat for better muscle definition - I work so hard for them and it annoyed me that I couldn't see most of them. So I tried calorie restriction to a supposed ideal 1800 for my size, basically reducing my portion sizes but still eating the same things. And I did lose some weight, but I also felt weak and had headaches all of the time, and since the point was to show off muscles that were going to disappear if I didn't have the stamina to work out like I had been it seemed wise to abandon that course.

I tried doing more cardio regularly, and strangely that didn't do much for me either except bore me to tears. I like running, but only at night, and apparently that's not safe according to some people I know...In any case, I could not get past a certain weight that I've been stuck at for almost a year, despite working out insanely hard and eating all whole foods and not too much. Over the 5 weeks or so that we adopted this policy of cutting out almost all starchy, low-nutrient food and eating huge salads with everything and more vegetables, I've lost 6 lbs somehow. I'm probably eating more than I was before that! According to our body fat scale that gives percentage of fat, pounds of water weight, and pounds of muscle, I've lost all fat, and I'm certainly not any weaker, as the chest/back workout I did today will attest.

My new goal is to be able to bench press my body weight, and based on how much I can press 10 times, my max *should* be about 105 lbs. That's only about 7 lbs below my current weight, so this is doable.

Labels: ,