Dr. McDougall’s Meal Plan Day 2 (Breakfast and Lunch Only)

So we are on Day 2. Last night, I had a portion controlled dinner including thai curry seitan with grains that was just so yummy and 350 calories so definitely staying on track! I wasn’t sure I could do it with leftover pie in the house but I did ūüôā .Today we started the day off with the Organic Maple Whole Grain Oatmeal. I figured this was a safe bet. Everyone loves simple oatmeal with maple syrup. I, as a New Englander, have that stuff running through my veins after a childhood of nothing but that for breakfast every morning in the winter and my grandmother would put a splash of milk on top to cool it down. Who knew then I was allergic?

That being said. Let’s analyze Day 2!

 

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Breakfast: Organic Maple Whole Grain Oatmeal (GF)

Day 2 started out challenging because I was STARVING by the time I got to work. I had a hot coffee and my oatmeal and put in a splash less boiling water and the oatmeal came out freaking perfect! Fluffy with a chew and awesome. I loved the maple flavor. it didn’t taste fake or artificial like a fake sweetener. I got full less than halfway through and I take into account not only the heat of my office window but the coffee and oatmeal being hot as well. The oatmeals are just so filling I am not sure what this company does but its magical. I was still picking away at it an hour later because I was full but wanted to stay that way all day. Definitely a winner, I think I liked it more than the apple.

 

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Lunch: Curry Almond Brown & Wild Rice Salad

FYI this is not a cold salad. This is a hot bowl of rice unless you choose to refrigerate it later which honestly sounds just as good as when I ate it hot but would take longer at work and well I am hungry by lunch. This meal is super filling and amazingly delicious. I loved the light curry flavor and the surprise sweetness when I would get a piece of dried fruit or crunch an almond. Sooo yummy. I wish I ordered more of these now so I could but some in the fridge as snacks. We are going away this weekend and this would’ve been the perfect food for lunch stops. I can’t eat much at those roadside places and honestly I don’t even want to because who wants a belly ache of burgers and fries on a long drive? Not me. The downside of this meal is only 1 thing. The smell of the curry may linger on your hands if you get some on you. Which I did. Because I am a mess. It gets a little strong later in the day and you have to wash your hands a few times. Otherwise enjoy the curry goodness. This was delicious!

 

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Overall? A huge win today for the BRUNCH period of my day. I was very surprised and floored by how good this food is and I felt full all day at work. Usually I nibble away at snacks. So happy ūüôā

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

Dr. McDougall’s Vegan Meal Plan: Day 1 (Just Breakfast and Lunch)

Happy Summer!

 

So I decided that it was time to lose the rest of baby weight and get back to my blog now that my daughter is big and healthy and all that fun stuff. Although, I am a little concerned that she is actively trying to kill herself daily or be a stunt woman in Hollywood with her crazy attempts to leap off things and roll towards tile floors. I may need to invest in a baby inflatable sumo suit. Do they even have those? I digress. I looked up about a million “vegan” food plans including but not limited to Beyonce’s and ones claiming to be vegan friendly but were really just vegetarian. Most were overly costly, made me add my own fresh veggies (umm isn’t that the bulk of the meal?), and didn’t ship to where I live since none are in Boston. I needed something like Weight Watchers for vegans without the meetings unless they include a Mommy and Me Yoga class after work hours, then I would be in but that doesn’t exist. Maybe just… Easy, accessible, and I can bring it to work? Well I did get somewhere eventually. I found Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods and ordered a bunch of stuff after looking at the prices and options and rolling over in my mind a dozen times if I was really ready to deal with this, I would have to give up my morning bagels eventually I guess. ¬†@RightFoods have what seems to be a million options of foods and for $65 (roughly and I paid like $20 for fast shipping because I wanted it sooner than like 10 days or whatever), I bought 12 packages of breakfast oatmeals and I think 14 lunch meals. That being said it’s like¬†$5 a day for breakfast and lunch. Probably closer to $2.50 a meal which I think is like a dollar or two less than a weight watcher meal and I got two for $5 and they weren’t even on sale ūüôā . So I am a happy camper in my wallet. Now it is time to eat this stuff. Will I be hungry? Will it be bland? Gross? Funny smelling? I am basically fat right now in my opinion (and probably the opinion of my doctor, scale, and BMI too but not my husband because he wants to sleep in the house not the shed tonight) and before my darling babes I was a runner, yogi, and surfer so I know I need fuel for exercise not just weight loss. I need to be not hungry after I eat my meal or I will fail at this and eat more than just an orange or two, I will eat that bagel and then I will have had two breakfasts which is worse than before. So let’s see how Day 1 went this weekend in my test. Have you had experience with any vegan meal plans? Tell me about them in the comments!

 

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Breakfast: Organic Apple Flax Whole Grain Oatmeal (NOTE: it is Gluten Free too!)

 

First, I put the whole sugar packet thing in it which is optional but in my opinion, it is not optional. I found it didn’t even feel very sweet with it in it. I do have a sweet tooth so this is probably saying its a little sweet but it was still tasty and I enjoyed it. The fill line could’ve been a little lower or maybe I should’ve microwaved it a bit instead of just adding hot water. Not sure but it was a little watery. However, that was no matter because about 3/4 the way through I was full and I mean like “wow there is still more in there? I am not sure I can finish” – full. But I finished it and I was full all morning, maybe a tiny overfull but in a good healthy way. Gefore I would eat a big multigrain bagel with earth balance and still be starved and it was wayyy more calories and fat. The meal itself was very hearty. You definitely get apples and flax and oatmeal. I mean you can see the chunks of everything and it’s great. You feel like you made it and chopped it yourself not like a traditional oatmeal packet of barely there freeze dried apples that are sponge-y. So kudos to them on this. It was a success over all.

 

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Lunch: Asian Organic Noodles in Thai Peanut flavor

 

Okay let me preface this by saying I kinda knew I may get disappointed on this one. I am obsessed with satay peanut sauces and think that thai peanut should be always a little dense and creamy like a touch of peanut butter is added. I even contemplated getting out PB for a teaspoon of it just in case. But I didn’t. I restrained myself because the point is too cut calories not increase them! Moving on, I was actually not that disappointed at all. It definitely was more spicy than it was peanut-y but it was good and it was actually a bit creamy. The only issues I ran into were (1) at first I didn’t believe there were enough noodles. It looked meager. This was not the case, (2) the cooking time was off for me. It said 50% power for 2 minutes. I actually needed 4 minutes. So I was a little annoyed going back to the microwave after letting it sit each time. I added 1 minute and then waited two to settle and then had to do that again. I had to keep separating the hard noodles and stir them around a bit and I worried it was going to be a bust and it took forever it seemed. Which made the cook time ten minutes instead of like 4. Not world ending but make sure to keep an eye on the time for yourself, watery just add a minute and worry about setting it to cool only when most of the water is gone. The noodles did fluff up and it was a good peanut noodle meal. I ate it with ¬†chop sticks to take me longer (plus I inherited them from my great grandmother who lived in Okinawa so its fun too) and I really actually enjoyed the meal. So yea I would eat that one again. (Below: look at the sides of the container see the creaminess? That made me happy.)

 

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In the end, double success on Day One. Or as my Chinese food menu may say Double Happiness :).

 

Stay Tuned for Day Two including:

Breakfast: Maple Oatmeal

Lunch: Curry Almond Brown and Wild Rice Salad.

 

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

Springtime Ingredients and Curried Chicken Salad Recipe

Today is the first day of spring and with so many new ingredients hitting the produce and farm stands, my mouth is already watering. I am thinking of warm pasta dishes with sprinkles of green veggies and herbs. It is almost too much for my little brain to handle!

The weather is warming up over here in the Northeast and with a gray, rainy day today with a mild 37 degree temperature this morning, one cannot help but dream of the plants pushing their stems through the ground and smell the steaming artichokes, peas, and asparagus that will be waiting on our Easter Tables. So lets talk about what is in season and drop some ideas on how to prepare it for a spring brunch or even Easter!

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What is Fresh?

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  • Apricots
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Fava Beans
  • Fennel
  • Green Garlic
  • Green Onions
  • Leeks
  • Lemons
  • Lettuces and Greens
  • Mint
  • Morels
  • New Potatoes
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Ramps
  • Rhubarb
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Onions
  • Turnips

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What are some awesome vegan spring recipes in which to prepare these fresh spring ingredients?

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Apricots: Make a Curried Vegan Chicken Salad with sliced almonds and diced dried apricots (recipe below), or a Moroccan Grain Salad, or roast the apricot and serve it as a dessert just like I did with peaches here!

Artichokes: I am a HUGE fan of artichokes! I roast, steam, or just plain old toss them into so many dishes. Add them to a marinara or a cashew cream sauce with sum sundried tomatoes and they are amaxing. Or go all out for a party and make this awesome Spinach Artichoke Dip!

Asparagus: I rarely eat asparagus but when I do they have to be fresh and either steamed and then drizzled with oil, balsamic and salt (served cold) or roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Keep it simple!

Beets: Beets are an amazing food. Try golden beets steamed or roasted with a balsamic vinegar drizzle. Heaven on earth!

Carrots: Everyone loves carrots. They are in cans, fresh, and come in every color. Purple is the original color of a carrot though. Try something new with this spiced carrot spread recipe from Martha Stewart!

Cherries: Cherries are such a wonderful ingredient that can be made savory or sweet. Try making a traditional cherry pie or some cherry chocolate brownie cupcakes to indulge!

Fava Beans: Try a twist on the average soup or standard fava bean salad with this Sopa de Habas from Saveur!

Fennel: I love roasting fennel with other veggies and making it almost herbaceous to the dish. Check out my roasted veggies from the holidays here!

Green Garlic: Green Garlic is similar in use to Green onions. I support this unusually garlic by dicing it thin and tossing it in a salad with asian dressing, dried fruits, and sliced almonds. You can even rub the oils from it around the inside of the bowl to help bring out the taste.

Green Onions: I love green onions in two particular dishes (1) is the Dragon Potatoes at the Cantina in San Diego’s Pacific Beach (you can get the recipe and cookbook here), and (2) when sprinkled over a peanut satay noodle dish like this recipe which includes lots of the other items on here. Mix it up and enjoy!

Leeks: Leeks are similar to onions. I like them for soups. Try making a simple traditional potato leek soup at Easter.

Lemons: When I was a little girl we lived in the San Jose area of California. I would sit on the railing of the back deck overlooking our pool and eat lemons with my brother. When I met my husband one of the first things I found out is he still eats lemons and LOVES them. There are a million lemon recipes out there both savory and sweet. My favorites are Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Bundt Cake and Lemon Meringue Pie though.

Lettuces/Greens: We all know how to use lettuce to make a salad but what else can you do with it? Try seasoning it and grilling it. Not sure what kind of lettuce to use. Get a free trial to Cook’s Online Cooking School and learn with videos and recipe lessons how to make them perfectly! I just did the lettuces version this past week and learned quite a bit about what flavors are in each type and when to use them and how to use them! I pay $20/ a month but more serious folks can do the $40 a month program and get feedback from America’s Test Kitchen Chefs!

Mint: I like mint in dessert but I am not much of a fan in savory dishes although it is used heavily in the Mediterranean and middle eastern cooking recipes. So try something totally different and make a mint tea with mint, sugar, and water!

Morels: These mushrooms are so rich and can be made into almost anything! Check out this website and recipe guide that is dedicated to them and start experimenting! Also look at Martha Stewart’s Morels 101 !

New Potatoes: Roasted New Potatoes tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs are a staple. The only spring change I would make… add some edible flowers and Herbs de Provence!

Parsley: I re-blogged a great recipe that had a wonderful use of parsley the other day here with Roasted Potatoes and Avocado. Or try a Parsley Walnut Pesto for a hot or cold salad (swap the parm for Galaxy Foods Vegan Parmesan) or fun bruschetta!

Peas: My father hates peas but I grew up with them on my plate at least a few times a week. From the can with butter and salt. Yum. However with them so fresh try a variety of types and ways to make them! Steam some fresh snow peas or sugar snaps and toss in a stir fry with some tofu. Or perhaps make a minty pea dip or Pea Guacomole!

Radishes: Radishes are inherently a mexican topping. You add them raw and sliced to the top of any taco and it is instant heaven.

Ramps: ramps are a food that many are not familiar with but are part of that green onion/scallion style of food. But here on the east coast they are more common so we pickle them, put them in bread, and even toss them in the fryer! Check out some recipes here.

Rhubarb: My husband is a sucker for a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie from the baked section of our Grocery Store. My mom buys them for him all the time. But when i was little my grandfather used to recite a rhyme to me every so often asking me if the “rain would hurt the rhubarb” and I thought that rhubarb was the same as rebar that was on the cement pillars of the ski lift so I would be rolling my eyes like “No they are always covered in snow”. I laugh at my 4 year old logic. However does the rain hurt the rhubarb? ¬†The answer is apparently no, but it is obviously a common question! That being said eat some of its sweet and sour flesh in a pie (just sub the dairy for non-dairy items)!

Scallions: Scallions grew like weeds in the backyard of my childhood home. I hated the smell but now it is nostalgic. They are great on almost everything so I wanted to find an out of the box recipe for you guys. This is what I found: Avocado, Celery, and Scallion Bruscetta with Mache! Also take a look at Martha Stewart for more inspiration on Ramps, Scallions, and Green Onions!

Spinach: I use spinach mainly in salads or steamed with vinegar on them. How do you cook spinach? Also there is always the Spinach Artichoke Dip above!

Strawberries: I love strawberries. Doesn’t everyone? But its actually not a berry. Although, Pineapples and Bananas are. Make a strawberry chocolate pie for Easter by tossing strawberries with tapioca pearls and sugar and then putting them in a vegan pie crust and pouring chocolate chips in the crevices. It is really that easy. check out Magnolia Bakery’s recipe! Also I love my chocolate dipped strawberry cupcakes. They are fun and easy for kids to make too!

Sweet Onions: I could use sweet onions all day. Onion rings, purree, or in a bread. Yummy Yummy! Try my onion bread recipe!

Turnips: I have never cooked turnips. Ever. So I will rely on some experts on some interesting recipes. Here they are: RECIPES . I must say the Maple Carrot Turnip Mash and the Turnip Slaw look awesome! Some of that slaw over my BBQ Seitan Pretzel Sandwich Recipe sounds devine!

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Curried Vegan Chicken Salad with Apricots and Sliced Almonds (Made for 1 person)

 Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces of Beyond Meat Chicken Lightly Seasoned
  • (1-2) tbsp of Vegan Mayonnaise like Just Mayo by Hampton Foods
  • 2 tbsp of Balti Curry Spice from Penzey’s
  • 1 dried apricot
  • 2 tbsp of sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional: Sliced Bread, green salad

Dice chicken strips into tiny pieces. Toss with mayo, then season, and stir until combined. Dice the dried apricot and toss into mixture with almonds, toss lightly, and serve cold immediately. You can put it on a salad or in a sandwich as well! Enjoy!

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The great thing you may have noticed is that many of the recipes use multiples of these ingredients together. That is the beauty of cooking seasonly. The flavors always jive well together. Plus you are helping save the planet by not getting your produce shipped in from a million miles away. Try buying seasonally and locally. It is pretty delicious! Happy First Day of Spring everyone!

Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

Creamy Pesto Sauce over Whole Wheat Pasta

I love pesto. I love everything about it. The strong smell of herbs, the creamy texture, the sharp cheesiness, and the fatty oils. I used to get that Bertolli pesto in the small hummus like container and just indulge. However, that container has a whole lot of Parmesan cheese and olive oil in it. Don’t get me wrong I love olive oil and Parmesan is the world’s top cheese supposedly but I am vegan and I need to start eating less oil and more whole foods so this weekend I tried to make a new pesto recipe and decided to add some protein and make it a nice creamy version of my favorite since I already have a classic pesto recipe on here. So please make some, add a few of my optionals, and indulge in a delicious creamy pesto pasta on this cold, snowy Meatless Monday!

 

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Oil Free Creamy Pesto Sauce

  • 1 container lite silken tofu
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 cup frozen basil
  • 1 tbsp pinenuts (pignolias)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp granulated garlic

Optional:¬†(1) Add raw sliced almonds to the processor for a little texture. (2) Top with bruschetta tomatoes and a balsamic drizzle for a fresh twist. (3) Eat with American Flatbread Company’s new Farmer’s Tomato Pie instead of garlic bread or crusty bread.

 

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Preparation

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Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until well combined and then when you drain your pasta place the sauce in the pot over medium or medium low heat stirring often until bubbling. Add pasta and toss. Serve hot with bread or Tomato Pie!

 

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Serves 4.

 

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy

Preparing Tofu the Right Way

Since I became vegan I have always been afraid of preparing my own Tofu. First it was that I didn’t know how to use the different kinds (lite, firm, silken, extra firm, huh?). Then it was that it was all watery and mushy. Last, it was that everyone told me I had to dry it out or press it down or just buy the pre-baked from Trader Joe’s (which I did). I never knew what exactly to do. Then I started reading blogs and still not completely comfortable. Then I starting asking other vegetarians and cooks that I knew. i got closer to confident. But this past month I got a free cooking school online pass. They taught me so much so fast. I feel so much more confident about my tofu skills now. So here is my simple and best way to prepare tofu successfully. The pictures are provided by my closest friend that currently is living in Florida and doing a fast in which she has to prepare vegan food but was an omnivore prior to this fast. (The fast is called the Danial Fast Click Here to learn more.) I gave her my recipe and she followed it perfectly and topped her veggie bowl with the tofu.

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Pan Fried and Baked Tofu

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 block of lite or regular extra firm tofu
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal

 

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Prepare!

  1. Slice tofu into sticks by dividing the tofu in half and then half each side again creating 4 slabs. Divide those slabs into half to create sticks.
  2. Take tofu sticks and place on a plate that has 3 layers of paper towels. Let tofu drain on those towels at least 30 minutes. Then take an additional paper towel and press away excess water from the top.
  3. Next sprinkle with kosher salt and make rest 5 more minutes.
  4. In a bowl mix together cornstarch and cornmeal. Dredge the tofu through the mixture. You can add salt and pepper directly to the flour to create a seasoned flour.

 

Cook!

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan until almost spitting. To test heat place a droplet of water into pan and watch it sizzle.
  2. With tongs place sticks into the hot oil moving frequently so they do not stick. Rotate each side until lightly cooked then place on a silpat for the oven.
  3. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-20 minutes until firm and not longer leaking excess water.
  4. Place on a dish with paper towels to drain excess oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve.

 

I eat it with a side of peanut satay sauce or over brown rice and veggies with terriyaki sauce. They come out almost with a light crisp like a tempura would but not oily. Its the perfect way to keep it moist, not oily, and crisp. Enjoy!

 

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PS: I have used the following substitutions successfully: Chia Seeds instead of Cornmeal, Arrowroot instead of Cornstarch, Canola instead of Olive Oil.

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Food is Love.

The Hippie Gypsy.