6.22.2016

Update at 25 Weeks!

The weeks have just been flying by!  Summer is officially here, and thankfully our region hasn't been too unbearably hot.  I've been steadily growing and have gained about 10 lbs at this point, which puts me at a little under 1/2 lb gained per week.  Hopefully that pattern continues, but we shall see.

It's strange for once in my life viewing slow and steady weight GAIN as a good thing.  At first it was a real struggle to wrap my brain around, but once I started getting an obvious baby belly (not just the "is she getting chubby"-stage), I embraced it!  I've been picking lots of fun stripes and other patterns for my maternity clothes as we go too.

At 25 weeks.
I have had no real complaints to speak of, other than occasional sore back and neck depending on how active I am in a day, and increased hunger throughout the day.  Lately, I have been eating closer to four meals a day with a decent sized breakfast and lunch, a medium snack late in the afternoon, and a smaller dinner to keep from feeling too stuffed right before bed.

I've still been using the Happy Herbivore Meal Mentor plans for about two months now, but I'll tell you all about them another day.  All you need to know is, they are the best and this prego lady would not be eating nearly as well without them!

A few weeks ago we had our anatomy ultrasound and found out we are having a boy!  We were both hoping for a boy, so we are thrilled!  After finding out, I got to work like crazy planning the nursery on Pinterest!

Last weekend my parents visited and we got A TON done on the nursery.  Here are a few pictures.

Mom and I painted the nursery over the weekend.  Three walls are the Seaglass, and the window wall is Sonic Silver.


Shopping around we found this fabric shower curtain for $15 at Target that my mom cut in half and sewed into curtains.
We also found a nice curtain rod for $8 at Joann Fabic, and curtain hold backs for $5 at Ross.  Considering the curtains I had liked on Amazon were $45 by themselves, we got a steal!  The green chair will be leaving us in a yard sale soon.  The cute bassinet was from when I was a baby.  We'll be using it in our bedroom for the first month or so.  

My dad made me these fantastic book leaning shelves (idea from Pinterest).  The bottom shelf is smooth so I can put a cup of water and my phone there while sitting with the baby.  The top three shelves used grooved baseboard planks so that they would perfectly hold leaning books.  We don't have any baby books yet, so Kevin brought up some comics to fill the space.  The glider we got for a great deal at a yard sale for $40!

My dad helped me make this tree branch shadow box (idea from Pinterest).  After this picture we had touched up the white outer box.  You can see it finished in the photo above.  We had the outer box wood leftover from another project and we got the branches from the woodsy area by my house, they had already been cut down.

The changing table was a find from a friend's neighbor who was trying to get rid of it for $20.
The storage bins were a present from my parents from Target. 

Another view of the bookshelves and rocking chair.

Kevin and I found this cute definition at a market vendor in Portland that had painted it on reclaimed wood (wanting $40 for it!).  I took the lettering and embroidered it on a burlap frame I had used a long time ago to hang my earrings on.


My mom also helped me to put some adorable owl buttons on a cardigan I finished knitting a few months ago.

 In the end, everything is coming along, but I still feel like there are so many more little projects I want to do!  Our summer is quickly filling up with traveling and plans so I'm sad to say it will probably go by quickly.  One day at a time till we get to meet our little boy. :)

Health and Happiness,

Amy


5.12.2016

Baby on the Way!

I've been absent lately because... some big changes have been happening in our life.

Early in February I started to feel not quite right in my stomach.  There had been a stomach bug going around my office, so for a few days I chalked it up to that.  A week later and a day or two passed my usual "lady time" start date, I took a test with two very solid pink lines.

A week later the doctor confirmed it: I was pregnant with our first child!

While we weren't necessarily trying to get pregnant... Ok, we weren't trying at all.  This was an oops.... but totally an exciting, very welcomed oops.  We had actually been talking that same week about setting money aside to save for a big Europe trip in the coming year or two before starting to have kids.  Well, plans change!

The parents-to-be.  Do we look terrified?
We're trying our best to keep our cool.
Excited but terrified!
I want to say that the first trimester was a cake walk and I ate perfectly Nutritarian, but no.  I was moderately nauseous from when we found out until about week 11.  I never ended up getting sick, but I still wasn't feeling like my normal self.  I had some pretty bad food adversions, and mostly survived off of whole wheat toast with avocado or peanut butter, bean burgers, lots of bananas, saltine crackers, and ginger ale.  While not ideal, I did my best and made it through to the second trimester.

Oh my gosh, it is like night and day.  I have my energy back, and I was able to start eating my usual foods with lots of veggies.  Tomato sauce and I still have a problem, but I'm sure someday we'll be friends again.  I'm also hungry all. the. damn. time.  Snacking is my game!

My only other issue with eating is that I would get tired of a certain food quickly.  What sounds great one day sounds like the worst the next, so my usual habit of cooking a large batch of soup or stew to eat throughout the week was not working.  A lot of my food was going to waste and we were spending more on groceries than usual.  I just didn't have any inspiration nor motivation to create different meals throughout the week that would fill me up, keep the groceries cheap, and that I wouldn't make too many servings of one thing.

A few weeks ago I remembered that Lindsay Nixon from Happy Herbivore had a plant-based meal planning service called Meal Mentor, so I decided to give the free sample meal plan a try.  The food was pretty good, but most importantly I got VARIETY without thinking twice about what to make.  I became a monthly member and have loved it ever since.  (That is also why I've been a bit MIA, I just haven't had any new recipes of my own to share.)

Now, this isn't to advertise for Meal Mentor or say that everyone should do it, but right now as I'm preparing to be huge and hot in the summer, and a busy mom in the fall, batch cooking all of my weekly meals in one night just works.  They are not exactly Nutritarian, as they have more potatoes and not quite as much greens, but for my increased hunger and need for calories, they are fitting the bill perfect.  If you guys have any questions about it, feel free to ask.

So, to update you on exactly where I am in the pregnancy, I am 19 weeks as of today, putting me due early October.  My baby app tells me that he/she is as big as a mango and about 6 inches long and 1/2 pound in weight.  I'm at that "oh so lovely stage" where my clothes are getting a bit tight and uncomfortable.  I don't look outright pregnant, but just a bit chubbier in the tummy than usual.  Other than being hungry more often and occasional lower back aches, my symptoms have been a breeze.

We had our first ultrasound over a month ago at week 14 because my midwife couldn't find a heartbeat with a small handheld doppler at my group prenatal appointment.  She thought maybe I wasn't as far along as I thought and wanted to get an ultrasound to see the heartbeat and get measurements for how large the baby was.  Of course I worried and couldn't sleep the whole night before the ultrasound thinking something was wrong, but come the appointment, the heartbeat was easy-peasy to find, and the measurements told me I was exactly at 14 weeks like I thought.  (Apparently my placenta is towards the front, making it harder to hear earlier heartbeats with a handheld doppler.)


Here was the picture from our 14 week ultrasound.
I point out a few features in the pictures below because
before I saw an ultrasound in person I could never
figure out what each part was.


The ultrasound was so neat to see in person.  We got to see the baby "jump" its legs a few times, and got to see a top view at the right and left part of the brain.  What amazed me most was how tight it seemed to be in there for him/her.  No wonder babies love to be bundled tight after birth.

We have our next ultrasound (an anatomy ultrasound) June 1st at around 22 weeks.  We are excited to find out if we're having a boy or a girl and to start planning out the nursery.  I'll try to do monthly updates or so until the baby comes.  Stay tuned!

Health and Happiness,

Amy

3.28.2016

Mole Lentil Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend!  After church, Kevin and I spent the afternoon lazing around the house, catching up on laundry and some reading.  Mid afternoon hit and I had a hankering for tacos!  I know, not traditional Easter food whatsoever, but I just went with it.  I ended up with a fantastic recipe I'm sure to keep in rotation!  Enjoy!

Mole Lentil Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
Time: 15 minute prep, 6 minute high pressure with a NPR (or 30 minutes on the stovetop, directions below)
Servings: 4-6 servings



Ingredients:
    Lentil "Meat"
        1/2 cup dry brown lentils
        1/2 cup dry french green lentils
        1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)
        1/2 red onion, finely chopped
        1 green bell pepper, chopped
        1/2 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
    Mole Sauce
        1/4 cup tomato paste
        2 1/2 cups water
        1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
        1 Tbsp cocoa/cacao powder
        1 tsp cumin powder
        1 tsp smoked paprika
        1/2 tsp corriander powder
        1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
        1/4 tsp cinnamon
    Cabbage Slaw Topping
        4-6 cups shredded green cabbage
        1/4 cup sliced green onions
        8 radishes, finely chopped
        2 Tbsp lime juice
        salt to taste
    Extras
        corn tortillas
        salsa
        hot sauce
        vegan sour cream
        guacamole

Instructions:
1.)  In a pressure cooker, dry or water saute the red onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and walnuts for 3-5 minutes.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the mole sauce ingredients until smooth and well combined.  Add the lentils and mole sauce to the pressure cooker.  Stir well, lock the lid, and set to cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.  Allow for a natural pressure release.  (Alternatively, cook in a pot on the stovetop bringing to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked thoroughly.)

2.)  While the lentils are cooking, prep your cabbage slaw.  Place only the green cabbage in a large bowl with the lime juice and a sprinkle of salt.  With your hands massage and squeeze the cabbage to loosen up the fibers (very similar to if you were making sour kraut).  The cabbage should reduce to about 2/3 or 1/2 of its original volume.  Drain any excess liquid.  Add in the green onion and radish, and stir well to combine.  Chill in the fridge until it is time to serve.

3.)  This is not necessary, but I love to lightly warm/toast my corn tortillas in an un-greased skillet on medium heat for a minute or so each side just before serving.  It makes the shells able to hold more without tearing and brings out the corn flavor.

4.)  Once the lentils are done cooking and the pressure has released, carefully open the lid and give the lentils a good stir.  Serve hot on the toasted tortillas topped with the cabbage slaw and any other toppings you desire.

Amy's Notes:
Trust me, toast your corn tortillas.  I was never too much of a fan of them until I tried them freshly warmed in a skillet.  Makes all the difference!

An few alternative ways to enjoy this is to have the mole lentils on top of a large pile of the cabbage slaw like a salad.  Another way would be to have on top of brown rice, quinoa, baked tortilla chips, or a baked potato.  Whichever way you choose, the lentil and cabbage combo is fantastic!  Enjoy!


Health and Happiness,

Amy

3.09.2016

Example Day #4

Ever wonder what a Nutritarian eats day to day?  Join me in this weekly series while I show you an example day of what I typically eat.

This was my example eating from this Monday.  Mondays for me are the busiest day of the week with morning meetings and picking up breakfast for the office.  I generally wait to eat breakfast most days until I get into the office, but since I know these mornings are hectic and I won't get a peaceful moment until close to 10, I eat what I call pre-breakfast to tide me over.

This day I had a banana on my way into work.  Once I got in, I carried around an apple until our Monday Morning Meeting started.





Around 9:30 I got the chance to sit down at my desk and have proper breakfast.  Today it was 1/3 cup rolled oats soaked in hot water, with 1/2 chopped banana and organic soy milk.


Lunch today consisted of my new favorite (and quick!) Simple Greens and Quinoa Salad with another apple and three clementines.


On my way home from work I needed to pick up some groceries.  My Fred Meyer has a nice "natural foods" section and occasionally I treat myself to some chia seed kombucha.  I don't usually drink my calories, but I find this a great alternative to soda if I'm craving a sweet drink.


Once a week Kevin and I make an effort to have a sit down dinner with no electronics or other distractions.  I grew up having sit-down dinners most nights of the week, but Kevin did not, so this is our balance for now.  This night I had a whole wheat wrap with herbed tofu spread, chopped artichoke hearts, carrots and romaine with a side of Thai red cabbage slaw and steamed asparagus (and un-pictured steamed broccolini).


Kevin was not so much into the slaw and wrap, so he made himself two burgers (unfortunately, he is not a Nutritarian), and a Caesar salad on the side.  He did, however give asparagus a try and did not hate it.  BIG improvement if you know my husband!


To summarize based on Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live plan:

  • 1 lb raw vegetables - I met this goal with my lunch salad and the Thai slaw I had with dinner.
  • 1 lb cooked vegetables - This was covered with my two helpings of steamed asparagus and broccolini at dinner.
  • 4 servings fresh fruit - I met this goal with 1.5 bananas, 2 apples, and 3 clementines.
  • 1 cup or more of beans - I fell a little short on this today, but I had a tofu spread on my wrap at dinner.
  • 1 cup or less whole grains/starchy vegetables - I had 1/3 cup oatmeal, about 1/3 cup of quinoa, and a whole wheat wrap.  I often count quinoa more towards my bean goal since it is higher in protein.
  • 1 oz or less of nuts/seeds - I had a small amount of nuts blended into the tofu spread, and I also had some avocado in my lunch salad that I will count in this category because it is higher in fat.


Health and Happiness,

Amy


3.07.2016

Simple Greens and Quinoa Salad

I've been going for simple lately.  After having some tummy issues a few weeks ago (more on that in another post), I've been sensitive to more exotic foods.  To get my system back in normal digesting order, I've been sticking to simple recipes.

Since my actual volume of food I've been able to eat has decreased, I have been having a bit more calorie dense foods, such as nuts, dried fruit, and avocados.  For those of you who are following Dr. Fuhrman's more aggressive weight loss plan, try subbing 1/2 of the avocado in this recipe for the same volume of defrosted and mashed green peas.  You'll still get that avocado flavor, but with less calories.

The recipe below has been my go-to salad for the last week or so.  It has 5 ingredients!  5!  It doesn't get more simple than that.  Plus, I can prep and mix all of this with a cutting board, paring knife, fork, and large bowl.  I'm all for less to clean!

Simple Greens and Quinoa Salad
Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 main dish servings, or 4-5 side salad servings
Print this recipe!


2.09.2016

Welcome Dear Vitamix!

Please join me in welcoming the newest addition to my kitchen.... the Vitamix 5300!!!!  I'm currently contemplating what to name her/him.  I think it should start with a V, just so I can remember it better.  Vasco?  Vladamir?  Victor?  Vera?  I'll work on it.


Here is the beauty making me a berry smoothie for breakfast the other morning.
(The Husband who leaves earlier than me for work was quite jealous when I sent him a picture.)
I am lucky beyond belief that my parents thought an appropriate exchange of goods and services was to give me a Vitamix for watching their pup for the last month or so.  (I think I got the better end of that deal, but don't tell them!)

Now, since we were first married four years ago, I have had a very good KitchenAid blender.  It got the job done (with time and often lots of spatula scraping) enough so that I could never think of a good enough excuse to abandon it and spend a small fortune on a Vitamix.  I just kept hoping that a time would come that it would "vroom" its last and we would simultaneously win the lottery.... or at least a really good scratch ticket.

Alas, this wildly impossible situation did not need to come.  When the my parents came to visit last weekend, my Dad brought in a sizable box and pronounced it as their "thank you" for watching Tilly (now and at least one more time).  I ripped open the brown paper wrapped package to see just a part of one side.  It had a fondue bowl on it.  I have been lactose intolerant for over a decade and mostly avoid (especially liquid) cheese at all cost.  My parents know this, so I had a momentary mind panic of what I would say.


Here is it on its virgin run in making Hummus (recipe on my food blog here).
More of the brown paper came off to reveal a brightly colored smoothie.  I knew what this was!  Jumping up and down squealing in my robe and slippers followed.  The Husband looked on with only a portion of the enthusiasm I was experiencing (he will understand my joy when I get to using it more and more this week... and forever!).

So far, I have made quite a few fruit smoothies to share with Kevin, a few green smoothies just for me, hummus and pinto bean dip, my favorite ranch dressing, a BBQ sauce for my tofu the other day, and even a soup base to make Kevin tortilla soup on the stovetop.  Each time perfect results.  Now I know what I have been missing all of these years!  I think there has been a day I've even used it 5 times....  LOVE!

Kevin and my conversation later on Sunday after my parents headed home went something like this:
The Husband: So you are covered for life when it comes to kitchen stuff right?
Me:  Yes.
The Husband: Ok, good, because next time you--
Me: Well, at least for now.  Let me clarify, I am covered on major appliances for a long long time.  Having this now means that I can give away my old blender, my old food processor, and my old mini food processor.
The Husband:  Sigh.
Health and Happiness,

Amy


2.04.2016

Example Day #3

Ever wonder what a Nutritarian eats day to day?  Join me in this weekly series while I show you an example day of what I typically eat.

Today's breakfast was a large fruit bowl with cantaloupe, apple, banana, pomegranate seeds, and strawberries.  My parents visiting over the last weekend gave me a bit more variety in fruit than I have been having since we had a frugal grocery budget last month.

Lunch was a bowl of brown rice with Chickpea Curry from Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen cookbook, along with a side of celery sticks.

Dinner was a bowl of creamy broccoli potato soup with baked cashew BBQ sauce tofu.

Summary:

  • 1 lb raw vegetables - I think I feel a bit short on this today with only having celery sticks.
  • 1 lb cooked vegetables - I got my cooked vegetables primarily in my tomato and onion curry for lunch and broccoli soup
  • 4 servings fruit - This was covered with my fruit for breakfast.
  • 1 cup or more beans - I had chickpeas with lunch as well as tofu for dinner.
  • 1 cup or less whole grains/starchy veggies - I went a bit over on this today with rice for lunch and a potato based soup for dinner.
  • 1 oz or less of nuts - My homemade BBQ sauce had a bit of cashews in it to thicken it up.


Health and Happiness,

Amy



2.02.2016

Vegan Under Pressure Giveaway Winner Announced!

I loved all of the responses I got from you guys on the giveaway of Jill Nussinow's new cookbook, Vegan Under Pressure last week when I prompted what everyone's favorite thing about their pressure cooker is!  I've been reading them over several times, and all I can think is: DITTO!


Here were some of your response topics:
  • the "set it and forget it" nature of electric pressure cookers
  • how quickly dried beans cook
  • how quickly potatoes and mashed potatoes cook
  • cooking large batches for weekday meals
And the winner of the random drawing is.....

Angie R!  Angie, I have sent you an email, and if you have not done so already please email me your name and address so I can get Vegan Under Pressure for you to start cookin'!

For those of you who would still like the cookbook, here is a link to purchase it on Amazon.  It is quickly becoming one of my favorites, with regular recipes already in rotation at our house including Sassy Tofu, Bean Sausages, Shane's Lentil Soup, Steel Cut Oats, and Creamy Broccoli Soup.


Health and Happiness,

Amy


1.28.2016

Example Day #2

January is always a weird month.  All of the holidays are over and it is still just the start of winter.  Generally December comes with more expenses from gifts, traveling, and taking time off of work, meaning January is always a frugal (what-can-I-scrape-off-the-bottom-of-the-freezer) month.  This month is even more so because we just paid off another big chunk of student loans (yay us!).

Because of this, I've been using up the last of my fresh produce and digging into my freezer storage.  Fresh berries are just too expensive right now, so we have been having frozen berries.  I've make some soups and stews out of the dried beans and grains I have on hand.  The goal was to not spend money on groceries for the rest of the month (my last real shopping trip was 1/11).  We have only three things we can buy throughout the month: bananas, broccoli,  and spinach.

This week, my meals have been not very glamorous, but thankfully pretty nutritious.  If we were eating the SAD (Standard American Diet), there is no way we could make it through a month of eating as cheaply as we do.

I started off my day with a big bottle of water, and then had my smoothie on the way in to work.  This smoothie had a banana, frozen mixed berries, romaine lettuce, ground flaxseed, and soy milk.
During the morning, I had three cups of tea (green, earl grey, and then chai with a bit of soy milk).
Lunch was a big bowl of freezer chili, a sliced orange bell pepper (second to last that we have in the fridge :(...), and a banana.

When I got home, I took the pup for a 2 mile walk/jog around the neighborhood.  Isn't she adorable!?  I'll be sad for my parents to pick her up and take her back home this weekend.
After showering and getting dinner ready, I had a nice glass of Shiraz. 
Dinner was Shane's Lentil Soup (from Vegan Under Pressure - for a chance to enter to win this new cookbook, you can enter here!), along with some chopped up celery.
Dessert was some leftover frozen berry nice cream. 
To summarize according to Dr. Fuhrman's 6-week Nutritarian Plan, I had:
  • 1 lb of raw vegetables with romaine in my smoothie, bell pepper with lunch, and celery with dinner
  • 1 lb cooked vegetables with the veggies in my chili and lentil soup (I was probably a little short on this today)
  • 4 fresh fruits with a banana and berries in my smoothie, a banana for lunch, and berry nice cream after dinner
  • 1+ cup beans/legumes with the beans in my chili and lentils in my soup (I had well over 1 cup of beans this day)
  • 1 cup or under of grains/starches - I didn't have any grains and had just a bit of potato in my lentil soup
  • 1 oz raw nuts/seeds - I had 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed in my smoothie, other than that I had no nuts or seeds

Health and Happiness,

Amy

1.26.2016

COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY! Vegan Under Pressure: Sassy Sesame Tofu

[Editor's note: Please note that the giveaway has ended and the winner is announced here.  Thank you to all who entered!]

When I first got my InstantPot, Jill Nussinow's cookbook, The New Fast Food quickly became a favorite of mine.  The time tables were spot on, and her recipes were flavorful and very approachable for someone new to pressure cooking.  Many of Jill's (aka The Veggie Queen's) recipes from her first pressure cooking cookbook have filled our kitchen for the last year, so I was ecstatic to get my hands on her second, Vegan Under Pressure.


Over the past few weeks, I've tried a dozen or so recipes from Vegan Under Pressure, and I can already tell it is a big winner!  Not only does it have tons of new recipes, but it is an EXCELLENT source for those new to pressure cooking.  The first two chapters introduce the reader to their pressure cooker, and then goes over pressure cooker basics.  It includes info for jiggle-top pressure cookers, stovetop pressure cookers, and electric pressure cookers.  Here is the index of how all of the chapters are organized:

One - Introduction to Pressure Cooking
Two - Pressure Cooking Basics
Three - Spice Blends and Other Seasoning
Four - Grains
Five - Beans
Six - Vegetables
Seven - Soups
Eight - Main Courses
Nine - Burgers, Patties, and Savory Cakes
Ten - Toppers: Sauces, Fillings, and More
Eleven - Appetizers
Twelve - Desserts

One of my favorite features of the new cookbook is the layout of the recipe pages.  On the right (or left for reverse side) edge of the page there is a summary of the cooking time and pressure releases required, followed by the ingredients.  The main page of each recipe then includes a description, how many servings it will produce, and then the instructions.


Another thing I love about this cookbook, and really all of Jill's recipes is that she allows room for improvising.  Like in this recipe, maybe you don't have 2 cups of sugar snap peas on hand, so use broccoli instead!  All of her recipes can be great starting points for creating dishes out of we have on hand and what each person's particular tastes are.

Moving on to the recipe I'm about to feature, which happens to be the one on the cover of the cookbook, I know some of you shy away from tofu for one reason or another.  In this recipe, just make sure to get extra firm tofu and drain and pat it dry.  If you are really against tofu, try switching it out for 2-3 cups of cooked beans such as chickpeas or even edamame.  I've already made this recipe twice and love it, so trust me, you don't want to miss out on these flavors.

Sassy Sesame Tofu 
with Sweet Potato, Carrots, and Sugar Snap Peas
Time: 10 minute prep, 3 minutes high pressure, quick release, 1 minute high pressure, quick release
Servings: 4



Ingredients:
    2 tsp toasted sesame oil (I left this out, but it would add flavor without too many calories)
    1 medium yellow, white, or sweet onion, sliced from top to bottom to equal about 2 cups
    1 carrot, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
    1 cup diced peeled sweet potato
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 Tbsp sesame seeds (1 Tbsp reserved)
    1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
    1-2 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
    1 Tbsp rice vinegar
    1/3 cup vegetable stock
------------------------------
    2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas, cut in half
    2 Tbsp Sweet and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce or sriracha
    2 Tbsp tahini, optional, for a richer dish
    2 Tbsp chopped green onions, for garnish

Instructions:
Prep all ingredients before beginning.

1.)  Heat a stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat or set an electric pressure cooker to sauté; add the sesame oil if using.  Add the onion, carrot, and sweet potato and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the sesame seeds and sauté for mother minute.  Add the tofu, tamari, vinegar, and stock.

2.)  Lock the lid on the cooker.  Bring to high pressure and cook for 3 minutes (set your electric pressure cooker to cook for 3 minutes on high pressure).  Quick release the pressure.  Carefully remove the lid, tilting away from you.

3.)  Add the peas and lock the lid back on.  Bring to low pressure; cook for 1 minute.  (If you do not have a low pressure option, lock the lid on and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.)  Quick release the pressure. Remove the lid, carefully tilting away from you.

4.)  Stir in the pepper sauce and tahini, if using.  Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds and the chopped green onions and serve.

Variations:  Use broccoli florets or 1-inch pieces of green or wax beans instead of the peas.  Cook at low pressure for 2 minutes with a quick release.




Amy's Notes:

I've made this recipe twice and loved it both times.  I've tried it with the added tahini and without it, and I actually prefer it without the tahini.  The first time I made it, my sweet potatoes cooked a bit too much and ended up mushing into the sauce (which I really liked).  The second time my sweet potatoes stayed together a bit better.  Jill makes note in her pressure cooker introduction that her recipes can have a bit of different results depending on the freshness of your ingredients.  My first sweet potato must have been fresher than the second!  The same can be true for dried beans.

In the end, all I can say is thank you, Jill, for another amazing cookbook to add to our arsenals.  Your healthful and fast recipes will grace my pressure cooker and our table for years and years to come!
Find Jill's website here and sign up for her monthly newsletters.  Within her newsletters she updates fans of where she is, what she is doing, AND features a few recipes, many of which are for the pressure cooker.

Now, for you lovely readers who would like to enter in for my GIVEAWAY of Vegan Under Pressure,  please see below.  The giveaway will run from today until midnight on February 1st and is limited to those in the US and Canada for shipping reasons.  Now, this is my first time using this widget for a giveaway, so cross your fingers that everything works!  I will contact the winner of the random drawing by next Friday, February 5th.  Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Health and Happiness,

Amy

1.19.2016

Example Day #1

Whether you found your way to my blog from searching "Nutritarian", or if a recipe picture caught your eye on some social media (mostly Facebook and Pinterest... I'm trying to get better at Twitter and Instagram, I promise!), if you are new to this way of eating, you might we wondering what a Nutritarian eats day-to-day, so I thought I would give weekly examples of what I eat within a day.

You won't be surprised to hear that I eat a lot of leftovers.  From having a day job and an obsession with knitting in the evenings, I really don't have a ton of time to prep new and exciting meals every day.  I'm preaching to the choir right?

My general strategy is to do most of my food prep for the week on Sundays when it comes to soups, beans, grains, and other main dishes.  Often I make enough to freeze and I almost always have a few containers of soup or chili in the freezer in case I need to grab something and go.

So without further ado, here is a sample day of what I generally eat and drink:

Before I left for work, I poured myself a tumbler of green tea to go.
At work I got a second cup of green tea and had my breakfast.  
Breakfast was 1/2 cup raw rolled oats, cooked in the microwave, 
and topped with raspberries, blackberries, and organic soy milk.


One more cup of tea in the late morning.  
Today I opted for earl grey because it was gloomy and I needed a pick-me-up.


For lunch I had my Beet, Mushroom, and Onion Salad (recipe here
on top of raw spinach and topped with chopped pecans.  
I also had a sliced bell pepper and carrot sticks with hummus 
that was leftover from a work party last week.  Apple to finish off with for dessert.

After lunch I had a full water bottle and took my vitamins (Vitamin D, kelp, B-12).

I had another cup of green tea in the afternoon as I worked.

As I drove home I had one more water bottle.

Dinner was later in the evening around 7 PM and consisted of 
Sassy Sesame Tofu from the new cookbook, Vegan Under Pressure 
(a recipe I will feature next week with a GIVEAWAY!), on top of sauteed spinach.

I had a banana for dessert afterwards.

To summarize according to Dr. Fuhrman's 6-week Nutritarian Plan, I had:

  • 1 lb of raw vegetables in my lunch with spinach, bell peppers, and carrots
  • 1 lb cooked vegetables with my beets for lunch, as well as veggies in the tofu on top of sautéed spinach
  • 4 fresh fruits: 2 at breakfast with raspberries and blackberries, 1 at lunch with an apple, and 1 at dinner with a banana
  • 1+ cup beans/legumes with hummus at lunch and tofu for dinner
  • 1 cup or under of grains with oatmeal for breakfast
  • 1 oz raw nuts/seeds with my pecans on my lunch salad


Health and Happiness,

Amy

1.13.2016

Beet, Mushroom, and Onion Salad

It took me quite a while to warm up to beets, even after I became a Nutritarian.  The first beets I remember trying were in a can.  Several weeks into being a new Nutritarian, I was looking for ways to bring some interesting flavors to my daily salads.  I threw the can of crinkle cut beets into my cart and popped them open to try once I got home.

Terrible.  They tasted almost metallic (probably from the can now that I think about it).  I forced a few more slices down before I determined beets just weren't going to be part of my salad thing.  At least not at the time, anyway.

A few years later I saw some golden beets at a farmers' market and decided to give it a try again, this time with the fresh stuff.  I ended up liking those beets both roasted and steamed.  After that, I gave red beets a try again and decided my first experience was not telling enough of this roots' wonderful culinary (and health) virtues.

I've heard some people say that beets can "taste like dirt", and it is true that they have a more earthy taste, but then again so do a lot of different wines, some cheeses, as well as very common kitchen items like mushrooms and lentils.  Earthy is a fun flavor to play with, especially by adding ingredients with acidic, nutty, and sweet notes.

Beet, Mushroom, and Onion Salad
Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
        1 1/2 - 2 lbs mixed gold and red beets (about two bunches), tops and roots removed, peeled and cut in half or quarters
        1-2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
        1/2 red onion, sliced
        1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
        1 Tbsp soy sauce
        1 Tbsp syrup sweetener (such as date syrup, honey, maple syrup, etc.)
        1 Tbsp sesame seeds

To serve: fresh dark greens, nuts

Instructions:
1.)  Cut the tops and root tips off of the beets.  Wash and peel.  Cut in half or quarters if the beets are large.  Place in a steamer basket and steam on the stove top for about 15 minutes, until the beets are fork tender.  Remove from heat and dunk the steamer basket into an ice bath to stop the cooking and cool the beets down.
*** If you have a pressure cooker, you can steam your beets that much faster.  Check your pressure cooker manual charts for the correct directions and time needed.***

2.)  Slice the cooked beets into 1/4-1/2 inch slices.  In a large bowl combine the sliced beets, mushrooms, red onion, and sesame seeds.
3.)  In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and sweetener.  Pour the liquid over the beet mixture and stir to combine well.  Let marinade in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 4 days.
4.)  Serve chilled or at room temperature on top of fresh spinach or kale (bonus points if you use the beet top greens!).  Sprinkle with chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts for an extra treat.

Amy's Notes:
For those who haven't tried beets before, or if it has been a while, red beets have quite a bit of pigment in them and their juices that can stain counter tops, cutting boards, sinks, hands, and ahem... personal waste removal.  Just take some precautions by wearing gloves and using an old cutting board, and cleaning up splashes on counters and sinks with a damp cloth as they happen.  Also don't be alarmed when your poo comes out red-ish.  You are not dying, nor are you in need of medical assistance.  Keep calm and know that you got lots of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients!


Health and Happiness,

Amy

1.07.2016

Loaded Black Bean Soup

How was everyone's New Years?  We spent ours going out to an early dinner at a nearby pizza place/bar, then headed home to watch Star Wars Return of the Jedi that Kevin had got for Christmas from my parents.  The days leading up to New Years Eve were spent around the house in sweatpants (me mostly knitting enjoying my new yarn, and Kevin writing the outline to the book he is starting to write).

Sweatpants time is soup time in our house, so I took this recipe written by Jill Nussinow that is in both the Instant Pot recipe book as well as her cookbook, The New Fast Food.  (Featured on this blog here as well.)  I've altered it a bit to include more beans, spices, veggies, and corn.  A soup can never have too many things in it in my opinion.  This recipe can EASILY be adapted for the stove top with a bit more cooking time and using only canned beans.  Please see my notes below the recipe.

Speaking of Jill... have you heard about Jill's new cookbook, Vegan Under Pressure that is being released on January 12th (pre-orders are available now)!?  I was lucky enough to be contacted by Jill's book agent to feature a recipe and a giveaway on the blog this coming month.  I have gotten a peek at the recipes and I can't wait to share one with you!  Stay tuned!

Loaded Black Bean Soup
(adapted from Jill Nossinow's original recipe, which you can find here)
Serves: 6
Time: 10 minute prep, 5 minute saute, 7 minute high pressure, natural pressure release, 1 minute high pressure, quick release


Ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large celery ribs, diced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dried oregano (or 2 Tbsp fresh)
1 1/2 cups dried black beans, soaked for 8 hours
6 cups vegetable broth (homemade or low sodium preferred)
........................................................
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn, non thawed
........................................................
salt to taste
cilantro to garnish
soy yogurt to top (optional)


Instructions:

  1. Prepare all ingredients before beginning.
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes in a heated pressure cooker, adding water as needed to prevent burning.  Add in the carrot, celery, and spices.  Stir well to mix and sauté for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add in the soaked dried beans and vegetable broth.  Lock the lid and set to cook at high pressure for 7 minutes (those with an InstantPot can alternatively use the soup function for 7 minutes).  When the timer is done, allow the pressure to come down naturally.
  4. After the pressure has been released, carefully remove the lid.  Use an immersion blender, or scoop several cups of the soup into a blender.  Blend until about half of the soup is creamy, leaving quite a few small chunks behind.
  5. Add in the canned black beans and frozen corn.  Lock the lid and set to cook at high pressure for 1 minute.  Once the minute is up, carefully quick release the pressure.
  6. Serve hot with cilantro to garnish and soy yogurt/sour cream to top.  Leftovers will thicken up in the fridge and the flavors will marinade to make the soup even better the next day!



Notes for adapting for the stovetop:

  1. Prepare all ingredients before beginning.
  2. In a large soup pot, water sauté the onion and garlic.  Add in the carrot, celery, and spices.  Stir well to mix and sauté for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add in 2 cans of washed and drained black beans along with the vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  4. Use an immersion blender to blend about half of the soup.
  5. Add in the 3rd can of rinsed and drained black beans as well as the frozen corn and cook for an additional 10 minutes without the lid.
  6. Serve hot with cilantro garnish and soy yogurt to top.  Leftovers will thicken up in the fridge and the flavors will marinade to make the soup even better the next day!



Health and Happiness,

Amy