Friday, March 22, 2013

Best Non-Dairy Ricotta Substitute that I have ever made

As I am writing this post I am eating a ricotta and sweet potato sandwich (pictures to follow). The ricotta is vegan and easy easy to make. The only unusual ingredient that turns ho-him extra firm tofu and raw cashews into a wonderful ricotta substitute is Nutritional Yeast. I included pictures and its nutritional facts below.

Now for the recipe:

1 tube of extra firm tofu-16oz (make sure soybeans are non-GMO!)
1/2 a cup of raw cashews soaked for 1 hour in hot water, drain water
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 tsp of italian seasoning or dried herbs of choice
1/3 curly leaf parsley bunch stems removed and minced
1 tbsp of grapeseed or olive oil
2 tbsp of water
1/2 tsp of salt
1/8-1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (add more or less depending on your preference)
Freshly ground pepper
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine ingredients in food processor until resembling picture below of blended cashew-tofu ricotta.
** If no food processor smash cashews in a plastic bag until finely crumbled, stir with hand crumbled tofu, and other ingredients. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight, this should keep for 3-5 days. I
I use this for lasagne, on toast as a sandwich spread, and if I ever made stuffed shells I would also use this.
**For a soy free alternative use 1 1/2- 2 cups of raw cashews instead. And you will probably need a food processor to combine all ingredients.

Check out the nutritional facts for nutritional yeast which are quite impressive. I really hope you will make this as an dairy free alternative to cow's milk ricotta cheese.

***this recipe is inspired by one recipe I tried at OhSheGlows and Fatfreevegan. Both blogs I follow and love.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5 and 6 weeks postpartum

I have lost an additional 2lbs this past week. This puts my weight loss to a total of 31lbs. Very happy about this. This past Sunday I started a walk to run 5k program through the Runkeeper App on my phone. I formerly used Nike Run app but the reviews went from great to terrible in my 9 month absence from running so I decided to use Runkeeper. Since Runkeeper has various training plans I can utilize, I felt that I made a great choice. As long as the GPS reports accurately I will be happy as Rocket when he gets a Popsicle, which is pretty darn happy. The mapmyfitness app had a terrible GPS for running and biking.

I have done a jog/walk for 1.56 miles the first day which was Sunday, The second run on Tuesday was a "sprint"-walk which I did for 2.01 miles. Tomorrow is another jog/walk for 1.5 miles. Looking forward to it. My knees are a little achy today but I wore really craptastic flats all day instead of my running or walking shoes: lesson learned the hard way. Around the house and running errands I must wear supportive footwear.

My weight training is still consistent this week which is important to my continued weight loss since muscle burns more calories than fat does.

In terms of how eliminating excess sugar from my diet is working out- that is still so so. More often than not, nutrient-rich whole plant foods dominate my meals. Not stress eating so much, just my insane sugar tooth that keeps me wanting and than eating the sweets. I would love to eat dessert once a week instead of every day, therefore that is my goal for the next seven days.

Update on my two boys: Baby Lex and Rocket are both thriving. Rocket is very sweet with his baby brother which I am very happy about. And Lex is being the best 6 week baby he can be :-)

Here is a picture of Baby Lex looking around in my arms after his morning nursing.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Week 4 and 5 Postpartum

Last week (week 4) began my earnest attempt to eat a nutrient rich plant based diet and begin cutting out the junk. I started strong and as all attempting to change their eating habits do. Day 1 and 2 I was the immaculate eater, but then on Wednesday I thought I would make homemade vegan almond joy candies. I did and they were delicious but by bed that night they also were over halfway gone. My husband had two pieces (out of 25 pieces) and Rocket had two. Whelp. The next morning I woke up craving -you guessed it my homemade candies. So that was that- I practically ate all the candies except four. True it was my birthday but still it was a little excessive. Fast forward to the next day after and I made banana bread. In two days I ate it all. About 10 servings. That is pretty much all I ate except a few things here and there but again- the the thing. Crazy right? I will answer that it is crazy and excessive.

I think I am finding a pattern here. I eat sweets in excess. I keep reading that to stop craving sugary and flour desserts, you must increase vegetable intake. So on Sunday I bought a lot of vegetables and fruit to get me back on track. I am on track-thank goodness so we will see what the rest of week 5 postpartum will bring. The important thing that I must remember is that I am doing this for me, to reclaim the body that I still picture in my mind's eye. I am fit and athletic in my head and the mirrors reveal to me and remind me that I am far from that.

On the upside, my exercise habits are becoming consistent. Lifting weights power walking, and yoga are helping me to feel and get strong again.

Another accomplishment, despite poor eating habits is that lost 2lbs. Yippie! 195 to 193lbs.

I took pictures of me a couple weeks postpartum and I will take updated one month postpartum pictures soon. I will do a two month postpartum pictures when baby Lex is around two months old. This will help keep me motivated to not only exercise consistently but also eat for nourishment cutting the junk out to impress you readers of my progress :-).

Eating clean is the missing link that is preventing me from becoming fit and athletic again. I mentioned a short term goal last post but that was about weight loss; my short term fitness goal is to begin running this week. My long term weight loss goal is to fit back into my size 6 jeans while my long term fitness goal is to run half a marathon. Both of my weight loss and fitness goals I want to accomplish by the time baby Lex is 18 months old.

Cheers to accomplishing my short term goals to accomplish long term goals. Until next week.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The plan- diet and exercise

Exercise plan:

>15-20 minutes of walking or yoga each morning before eating breakfast

>25-30 minutes of weight lifting circuits, Plyo/cardio interval circuits 5 days a week
Mon- legs and butt
Tues-chest and back and shoulders
Wed- triceps and biceps
Thurs- shoulders and leg plyometrics
Fri- walk or yoga
Sat- upper body plyometrics
Sun- walk or yoga

Meal plan:

>Breakfast: green smoothie or overnight oats with greens powder mixed with water or oatmeal with fruits/seeds/nuts and greens powder mixed with water

>Lunch: veggie/avocado/hummus sandwich or bean/lentil soup with starchy root vegetables and greens or giant salad with leftover veggies/grain/bean

>Dinner: veggie stir fry, whole grain pilaf, tofu/edamame or bean and veggie and grain dish.

>Snacks: raw veggie and hummus, apple or banana with pb, pb sandwich with non dairy milk, protein powder mixed with greens powder and non dairy milk (choose 2 or 3 each day)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

How to reach your healthy weight without starving yourself. I need to lose 55lbs will you join me?!

1. Learn your nutritional needs. How many calories does your body NEED to function. My body needs about 1590 without accounting for breastfeeding and how much I exercise each day. These two factors added to the 1590 brings my needed caloric intake each day to 2400. In order to lose about 1.5-2lbs a week I need to cut a couple hundred calories each day. Therefore my calculated caloric intake for weight lost is 2150.
** I have a great app call MyNetDairy which counts calories and helps determine nutritional needs. For $1.99 I purchased the pro and this has helped me understand how to eat to exceed my micronutrient needs.

2. Plan and execute an exercise plan. Do what is interesting and fun for you, but also challenging because in order to lose weight you must get your heart pumping. For me running, yoga, and lifting weights is where it is at. You may be a swimmer, Zumba enthusiasts, Pilates-fiend. I don't now but you should figure it out and commit to working out because having a great nutritional plan is AWESOME but to really encourage your body to lose the extra fat, exercising is a must.

3. After determining your nutritional needs. eat real foods. I repeat EAT REAL FOOD. Nothing that has more than a one ingredient is optimal and anything processed that has the words artificially and/or naturally flavored is a fail. Please for your health and waistline STAY AWAY from that junk. I am not a food saint but I don't buy that stuff because I know as soon as it is in my house I will inhale it. Case and point- the double stuffed Oreos that I bought last week. They were gone in a day in a half. I ate a sleeve and quarter the night I bought them. I thought I could outsmart the naturally flavored additives that are in packaged foods but at last I failed.

4. Join a support weight loss group. Like minded individuals will help keep you on track and accountable. I am a member of PEERtrainer. This is a free online weight loss website ( Once a member join a group and then join a 4 (Wo)men team. You log your meals, give or get advice, look through their resources- try the PEERtrainer energy soup) They do sell stuff but I have never bought anything nor will I as far as I am concerned right now.

5. Let your loves one know about your desire to lose weight. They can support you, especially your spouse or other family/friends living with you. Lee was a huge help while I lost weight after my first pregnancy and he will again be a help because he knows that I am actively changing my eating habits (no more candy bars from the grocery store) and will need him to watch the boy(s) when I want to go for a solo run. Also it gives family members a heads up that you will be or they should prepare healthier meals.

6. Set mini goals for yourself. Big goals are great, but what is even better are mini goals. Day to day goals are awesome and remind you daily that you are actively working towards your big goal. Accomplishing your mini goals will help keep you motivated to reach your goal weight. My goal today was to consume no foods with wheat flour. I succeeded-go me! Tomorrow's mini goal is to eat a green, leafy salad :-) these mini goals WILL help me to accomplish my big goal which is to get back into my size 6 jeans. And have muscles that pop. I miss my muscular physique and I will get it back!

7. Be kind to yourself. No one is perfect and obsessing about your body, the food you eat or should have ate will bring stress and unhappiness to you. This makes your body release the stress hormone cortisol which makes your body hold on to fat. So yeah, treat yourself to a spa day to relax and reward yourself for accomplishing your mini goals (my spa day is me announcing to Lee that I will be taking a bath- by myself. A nice hot hot bath- no babies or toddlers allowed, thank you very much.

There are a few more tips I could offer but I am sure but those 7 are the basics and if you find that it is very difficult to lose weight on your own seek a registered nutritionist/dietician. Your physician can help only so much , I believe general practitioners take less than 20 hours in nutrition courses, whereas a nutritionist takes over 100. (Please correct me if I am wrong). Also seek a certified personal trainer to help motivate you further and help you learn to exercise properly.

These tips have worked for me once before and I regret that I allowed my pregnancy hormones to give me a free pass at eating foods that junked me up. It will take me between September and December of this year to lose the full 55lbs that I have left to lose.

Remember losing weight is not a sprint but a marathon. I read that somewhere and based on my experiences it is the truth. And again my tips are based on my experience and I am certified in nothing so please consult the expects if you have health problems.

Join me in the next 9 nine weeks as I begin my weigh-loss journey (in earnest) to lose the first 15-20lbs. March 4-Memorial Day! Bicep and back muscles, quad definition, and size 12 jeans here I come. I currently am in my size 12-14 maternity jeans because my tummy is still pouchy.

My diet and exercise outline will be in the next post.