Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Salad Recipes!

Summer is a great time to gather with friends, and whenever we gather with friends, I like to cook!  Since we are going to Mt. Petit Jean this weekend with another couple, I thought I would make up a bunch of summer salads to go along with us.  Here's the menu:

Pineapple Black Bean Salsa
Beyond Meat Chicken Salad (how many times can I make this in one summer??)
Warm potato and leek salad
Quinoa Fruit Salad

Before I give you recipes, let me give you a run down of the day.  I am still having a hard time finding my dietary footing, so to speak.  It seems like I'm choosing bigger lunches, snacking more and drinking during the week.  For all of these reasons, I'm still not losing any weight.  I have managed to do all 3 running workouts this week, and weight training once.

For breakfast, I had cereal, but my iphone is acting weird, so I couldn't get a picture.  I'm REALLY ready to get a DSLR camera.  Any suggestions?

Anyway, mid-morning I tore into some kale chips from my Just the Food gift box.  These were spicy and delicious!

For lunch, we headed to Osaka in West Little Rock.  This place has good Japanese food and a Mongolian style grill.  I have never had it, but it looks good.  Maybe next time.  It looks like a scary amount of food.  I opted for miso soup, seaweed salad, fried tofu and an avocado roll.  Yes, that does seem like a lot of food.  Note:  lunches are getting too large.

I love avocado rolls.  I have tried several types of veggie rolls, but nothing is quite as creamy and satisfying as a simple avocado roll.  mmm...

So, after work, I set out to cook a MASSIVE amount of food for the cabin.  I assembled the vegetables, started boiling potatoes, put the quinoa on the stove, and began chopping vegetables.

First up:

Pineapple Black Bean Salsa


2 cans black beans, rinsed
2 cups chopped pineapple (I used fresh cut from Kroger, I think grilled would be amazing)
2 cans hot rotelle with juice
3 small red peppers
1 handful cilantro, chopped
2 jalapenos, de-seeded and chopped
3 limes, juiced

As you can tell, some like it hot, and this girl likes it VERY hot.  Between the rotelle and jalapenos, this salsa is SPICY.  You can tone it down with regular rotelle or tomatoes.

Quinoa Summer Salad


1 cup uncooked red quinoa, rinsed
1 cup shredded carrots
4 peaches, chopped small
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup mango salad dressing

Fill sauce pan with 2 cups water, add quinoa, boil
Set to medium, cover, cook until you see quinoa open, about 15 minutes
Let cool, add fruit and almonds
Top with salad dressing
Chill before serving

I also made up some Beyond Chicken Salad and the tofu part of my Low Carb Tofu Scramble.  I will be bringing the tofu to be wrapped in tortillas and covered in salsa for breakfast.  Yum!


Warm Potato and Leek Salad


2 bags small yukon potatoes, enough to fill large sauce pan
2 leeks, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 can cannellini beans
1/4 cup sesame seeds
4 small red onions
2 green peppers, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
2 jalapenos
salt and pepper

Boil potatoes until soft.  Drain
Take knife and slice through soft potatoes, making choppy pieces.
Cover generously with olive oil and salt and pepper, set aside.
Saute leeks in garlic and olive oil until soft, add to potatoes.
Drain beans, rinse, add to potatoes.
Chop small red onions, add.
De-seed jalapenos, chop small and add.
Chop green peppers, add.
Top with sesame seeds.  
Salt and pepper and olive oil to taste.
Serve warm.

Stay tuned for a recap of all the cabin cooking.  We have tons of corn, and I think the first night we're doing fajitas and the second night there will be vegetable grilling!

What are your favorite summer salad recipes?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dieting VS Summer: The Battle Rages On

I am having quite a hard time limiting my carb and calorie intake these past few weeks.  I'm working out A LOT, and I don't feel like I'm consuming "binge" levels of food, but there's definitely a lot of hanging out/drinking beer/picnic style eating going on.  I am counting calories, but I think the hardest thing for me is limiting carbs.  I was losing weight when I was eating "semi-low carb," but I was eating a lot of the same things (read salad).

I did get up this morning and do day 2 of couch to 5k.  I didn't have any foot pain today, which I thought was promising.  I refueled after with hemp milk + protein, and I packed up a "breakfast" salad for later in the morning.  Hearts of palm are my new thing, so there's a bunch of them on the salad.

Lunch was Izzy's, but I REALLY wasn't feeling like a salad.  I gave in to temptation and got their veggie melt (w/out cheese) and sweet potato fries.  I haven't had their sweet potato fries in a long time, and they were so good.  I can tell my brain is in the "you are going to have surgery in a few weeks why bother eating right" mentality, which is completely backwards from the way I SHOULD be thinking.

When I got back to the office, my gift box from Joni at Just the Food arrived!  It was full of all sorts of awesome snacks, stickers, coupons, and even vegan condoms!  Crazy.

I had to try one of the snacks.  These bean chips were really good.  We ran around North Little Rock getting things for this weekend until about 8:30, so I'm glad I had a snack.  We are going to Petit Jean Mountain with some of our best friends this weekend, so we stocked up on board games and a few things for the cabin.  I will be making a TON of food, so tomorrow there should be recipes and prep work photos as I prepare for the trip.  I plan on making pineapple salsa, vegan chicken salad, tofu scramble, potato salad, and a quinoa fruit salad.  Yeah, might be over planning it a bit.  Oh well.

We found ourselves at US Pizza, and instead of getting a salad or their pizza, I decided to try their pasta. It was kind of a disaster.  I always forget that I don't like pasta right when it's too late.  Sorry for the bad pictures, it got dark on us on the patio.

Dinner kind of illustrated my struggle with eating/hanging out vs dieting in the summer.  I want to be more relaxed and less rigid about things, but I also have goals that I want to keep.  I'm very stalled out right now and struggling.  I need to remind myself that dieting doesn't have to mean living a life of less.  I just need to make that mental shift, and I haven't been able to lately.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Back in the Groove

Today was a typical day, and I got in a good Jillian workout.  I started off with tofu scramble, and I made sure I had plenty of snacks!

Josh and I had lunch at Laylas on Rodney Parham.  It's one of our favorite restaurants, and I ordered what I always do, the Syrian Salad.  Sometimes, I get falafel on top, but I didn't today.  This salad didn't quite hit the spot, so I had a few more almonds later in the day.

I added to my desk garden and had some peanuts later in the afternoon.  These were WAAY too salty.  I felt like I needed to fuel before my Body Revolution workout, though.  So, I had them.

After work, my sister came over to work out with me.  I went ahead and threw the rest of the spaghetti bake in the oven and we started the DVD.  I would recommend Body Revolution to anyone that wants to follow a highly planned workout regiment.  I sent Casey home with a huge chunk of the leftovers, then I finished up what was still in the pan.  I also made up a salad with spinach, olives, carrots and hearts of palm.

I still had a bit of a sweet tooth, so I tried this kettle corn from my Vegan Cuts box.  I canceled my box, because the snacks were piling up quicker than I could eat them.  I still enjoyed a lot of the snacks, and I think if I had someone splitting the food with me it would have been better.

Total Calories for the Day:  1539
Total Carbs: 176 grams
Total Protein: 64 grams
Workout:  Jillian's Body Revolution workout 2

Monday, June 24, 2013


Today started my trek back into running, and it went better than I expected.  After 7 months of yoga, I feel that my stride is so much better than it was a few years ago.  I did experience foot and ankle pain in my left leg, but hopefully I'll be able to work through that.

We stayed up WAY too late watching Game of Thrones (just started the HBO series), and I was pretty groggy when I woke up.  I started the day with tofu scramble topped with tomatoes and carrots.

We decided to hit up Larry's Pizza, and I piled my salad high with veggies, corn and sunflower seeds.  For a regular pizza place, the salad bar here is pretty good.

I had to go see my doctor most of the afternoon, which was good and not great.  I am healing fine from my previous surgery, but I have to have another one, so mid-July I will be out of commission again (read:  eating ice cream and watching Downton Abbey).  Nothing life threatening, so I won't really get into it.

I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the things I needed to do at home, plus I still had to get in my first run, so I skipped hot yoga to head home.  I had a snack of mission chips and salsa verde before my run, which wasn't the healthiest choice, I know.

I definitely need to remember to eat morning and afternoon snacks, because when I don't I end up eating whatever is around.  I'm still trying to get back on the "wagon" so to speak.

I threw the cast iron pans in the oven at 350 d F and got ready to do my first day of couch to 5k.

I went for my run and even went a little bit past what the app said to do, and when I got home I was incredibly hot and thirsty.  When I made popsicles yesterday, there was leftover mix, so I poured some in ice cube trays.  I grabbed one and had that to cool me down.

Leftovers from Saturday were even better cooked in the oven again, and I was still amazed at how good the tofu "ricotta" was.

The rest of the evening was spent catching up on laundry and cleaning.  I'm still kind of exhausted from my great weekend.

Total Calories for the Day:  1461
Total Carbs:  213 g
Total Protein: 60 g

Vegan Cooking for Non-Vegan House Guests

As I said in my last post, this weekend I had two lovely friends come stay with me.  I took it as a great opportunity to cook up a storm all weekend.  We made lots of things, went to Glow Yoga, checked out the River Market, cooked more things, and watched a lot of Girls.

Amanda and Devon


I had some bbq tempeh leftover from the night before, so I made myself a breakfast wrap.  I ended up eating  a LOT of wraps all weekend.  Yum!

BBQ Tempeh Wrap

4 slices bbq tempeh
1 spoonful walnut paste
1/4 avocado, smashed
1/4 c shredded carrots

I had to work a little bit while my friends hung out at my house, but I was out relatively quickly.  I came back to hang out with them, and whipped up some snacks.

The brussels sprouts were just roasted in the oven in olive oil, 375 til brown and crispy.  I usually top with salt and pepper, and I had a side of cashew cream sauce.  This was really just soaked, blended cashews, a little lime juice and salt and pepper.

We got all dressed up and headed to Barefoot Studios for 80's Themed Glow Yoga.  It was SO much fun.  We painted all over ourselves, danced, and had a great class!  My friend, Erin, came to glow flow with us too!

After, we were sweaty and covered in chipping paint, but we went ahead and headed to ZaZa's for some huge salads.  Erin and I split a southwest salad, and she got all the cheese on the side.  Devon and Amanda were shocked at how large the salads were, and they were unimpressed with the pizza.

We spent the rest of the night drinking wine and watching HBO Go.  We were all pretty worn out from yoga.


I got up bright and early and whipped up some Low Carb Tofu Scramble.  When I went vegetarian in college, tofu scramble was one of the first dishes I learned how to make. I would make it for my girlfriends whenever we hung out, and it kind of became our signature dish.  I think they make it more than I do!  We had it wrapped up with salsa and cashew cream sauce.  It was a really good breakfast to fuel us for vegetable shopping!

We headed to the River Market and picked up tomatoes, peaches, green beans, and blueberries!  Yum!  I love produce in the summer!  We also got some popsicles at Le Pops, because it was HOT.  I had the avocado, and it was great!

We were feeling like snacking and getting out of the head, so we stopped over at Rumba for some lunch.  We got mango salsa, and Devon and I split the California Love tacos.  You have to make sure to ask for no cheese on the tacos and corn if you're vegan.  The sides were pretty good, but we both thought the tacos were terrible.  They basically had no flavor at all.

That afternoon, Devon had to leave, but Amanda stayed, so we decided to make up an awesome dinner with our farmers market veggies.  I decided to make Ashley's Vegan Caprese Baked Pasta!  This recipe is as good as it looked.  I made a vegan and a non-vegan one, because some of our dinner guests don't like tofu.  We had some more friends over, and everyone seemed to love dinner!  We had fresh green beans and made bruschetta as side dishes.  I busted out some daiya cheese wedges as well.

Ashley's recipe was AMAZING, and we have a ton of leftovers.  I think this dish would be great after it's reheated in the oven.  It was so quick and simple as well.


I got up and made blueberry pancakes for Amanda and Josh.  I used the same recipe as this breakfast, and we had strawberries and Arkansas Peaches on top.  Yum!!

After Amanda headed home, I whipped up some popsicles.  I am still working on the recipe, as these tasted strongly of banana, and Josh isn't a fan.  This was 1 banana, 1 can coconut milk, 1 can peaches, 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Lunch and dinner were tofu scramble wraps, and I mostly sat outside all day while Josh worked on the pool.  Home ownership, especially with a pool, is tough work.  No complaints though, I am fortunate to have what I have.

When I came in, I opened my box from Esalon and tried out their hair dye.  I was pretty impressed.  You can make a custom color, then they send you professional hair color with easy instructions.

I like how bright it turned out!  So, that was my HUGE weekend recap.  I love having house guests and cooking tons of amazing things for them.  It's not hard getting your non-vegan friends to like your food if you make it delicious!

I have to get back on the wagon, though, in terms of weight loss, so here are my goals for the week:

No Weekday Drinking
Get in my workouts
Eat within my calorie goals
Try to eat moderate amounts of carbs

We are going to a cabin with some friends from out of town this coming weekend, so I'll be planning what vegan awesomeness I can bring on that trip, too.  I love the summer + cooking!!