Thursday, February 25, 2010

Three-Pepper Stir Fry

I love stir-fry! It's so healthy, easy, and quick. I'm on a tofu kick right now so I've been making a lot of it. Also, for some odd reason that I don't fully understand, bell peppers and broccoli have been super cheap here lately. Strange...

Anyway, this recipe combines three different colored bell peppers, along with onions, broccoli, tofu, and some walnuts to give it a boost of protein and heart-healthy fat. They're lightly covered in a thin sauce, so feel free to eat a bunch of it!

Three-Pepper Stir Fry:

1/2 EACH yellow, red, and orange bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1/2 block of baked (leftover) tofu (about 1/2 - 3/4 c.)
1 head broccoli, cut into florets and pieces
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced

2 Tb. tamari
1 Tb. sherry
1 Tb. lime juice
1/2 tsp. garlic-chile sauce
1/2 tsp. arrowroot powder

1. In a dry skillet, toast the walnuts. It only takes a couple minutes. Set aside.
2. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and add chopped veggies, tofu, and minced garlic. Let cook about 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender.
3. Meanwhile, while veggies are cooking, make sauce.
4. Once the veggies are crisp-tender, and the walnuts and sauce and let cook another minute or so until it thickens up a bit and all the stir-fry is nice and coated. Enjoy!

Ahh... now that the food's taken care of, I guess I can get back to this:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How I Started Exercising

I'm a workout kinda girl. I love it. I didn't used to. And actually, I've only been working out since the beginning of July of last year. I don't even remember what inspired me to do it.

Okay... maybe I do... confession time.

I have a slightly addictive personality. I think most people do. I tried to quit drinking coffee once, and that lasted four days! I also used to do drugs (well, you call them drugs, I call them "mood enhancement products"). Nothing really hardcore, but I'm kind of a hippie living out in the midwest. There were quite a few things at my disposal (like the blue acid, man...). Anyway. I'm also in school. I'm a junior university student majoring in biology (with a botany concentration) and a minor in chemistry.

Yeah, yeah, what pothead doesn't want to major in botany. Lol. Anyway...

Is this too personal? Probably. But I'm going there anyway! It has a point, and it ends with recipes, I promise!

So, one time while tripping on mushrooms I had an epiphany in which God told me to cut it with my behavior and to go back to school. Needless to say, after having been out of school for a year and a half (and being a little frightened that God was chastising me), I listened. I've always loved science and been a geek at heart, so biology was my major. I love plants and everything about them, so botany was a natural choice. I've always had a strong interest in fungi so over the course of my courses, an interest in plant pathology (the study of the effect of viruses, bacteria, and fungi [and to an extent, chemicals] on plants) sprang up and has only gotten stronger over the months. This lead to my chemistry minor (I heart chemistry!).

Okay, so I'd been back in school for awhile and was still smoking the herb (I love marijuana and I will probably always will). I'm not gonna lie, I advocate the usage of marijuana for both medical reasons and recreation (within reason)... HOWEVER. I realized that as long as it's illegal, the consequences of its use was real and I didn't want to jeopardize my future career as a scientist on a quarter ounce of weed. I decided to start exercising to distract myself and give me something to do, and for about a month I would still smoke before I worked out. Then I had another one of those epiphanies where I realized that doing something that elevated my heart rate before I went out to elevate my heart rate some more probably wasn't a good idea. It wasn't until I quit smoking the weed that I realized how much I actually enjoyed working out. And from that point on I worked out instead of smoked. Strange, kinda. It really wasn't that hard for me to quit smoking.

I'm not gonna lie, I was able to quit smoking pot, but I still can't give up coffee. What's up with that?

And I still miss it sometimes, because cartoons are just so DAMN funny when you smoke, but I'll get over it. And maybe one day it'll be legalized, but until then, I'll just keep working out. I enjoy it more anyway.

So yeah, that's how I started exercising, but I always had the problem of being hungry after doing cardio. I talked to a friend of mine who's an avid weight trainer and he said that it's perfectly okay to eat after working out provided it's high in protein, good carbs, and low in fat (actually, it's encouraged), so, I started making protein shakes.

I've been making protein shakes after each workout (I told you there would be recipes).
My goal has been to stay the same weight, but to get leaner. The shakes help keep me from being ravenous and as a bonus they help keep a steady supply of fresh fruits, protein, and calcium in my diet. I've been meaning to make a few with vegetables (like spinach) but I always wind up stir-frying them instead! All well.

My favorite band of shake is Nature's Plus "Energy, The Universal Protein, Create Your Own Power Sh
ake.". I only use 3/4 a scoop of powder otherwise it's a little bitter. It says it's vegetarian and I scanned the ingredients up and down and there's no dairy or egg products whatsoever. I'm pretty sure it's vegan. It's also non-GMO, yeast-free, and unsweetened. I find that after blending it with fruit you don't even need a sweetener.

Alrighty, then. Recipes in my next post. And also, I'm not paid by this company to do any reviews on this product, it's based on my own personal opinions and tastes. If you go out and buy yourself a can and you don't like it, it's not my fault, blah, blah, blah.

Easy Chunky Pasta Sauce

I developed this easy pasta sauce recipe for my boyfriend. It has great flavor, tender veggies, and pairs well with whole grain pasta. You can make a lot, or you can make a little. It's up to you! Also, I know must sun-dried tomato pesto isn't vegan (it has Romano and/or Parmesan cheese in it), but I had previously made some without dairy (but still full of sun-dried tomato and herb-y deliciousness). However, in the awesome world of vegan grocery stores and very large cities, I'm fairly confident it wouldn't be that hard to find (I'm sure I'll post that recipe eventually).


Chunky Pasta Sauce:
Olive oil, or olive spray
1 onion, diced
4 large white mushrooms, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. garlic
4 Tb. sun-dried tomato pesto
1 (8-0z) can tomato sauce
2 Tb. water
1 tsp. sugar

1. In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil/spray until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and saute a few more minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
3. Add the tomato sauce, pesto, water, and sugar. Stir well.
4. Reduce heat and let simmer about 20 minutes.
5. Serve over your favorite pasta.

It's Snowing... Let's Bake Cookies!

So, it's snowing outside.

It's snowing a crap ton.

Apparently, the Farmer's Almanac was right about that winter storm headed our way this month. We laughed in the face of winter, "ha ha! It's 40 degrees outside!" and we celebrated by leaving our coats in the car (yep, it hits 40 and it's like spring!). 24 hours later, we're blanketed with snow. Two days later, and it's still falling. I couldn't tell you how many inches we're at.

The good ol' Midwest always keeps you on your toes, I suppose.

So anyway, what to do when you're trapped inside the house? Bake!

The first recipe is for your nostaglia-filled no-bake cookies. I remember standing on a chair and making these over the stove. This recipe was also my cookie of choice when I was broke but had the um, munchies, and *needed* some cookies. There's lots of different variations out there, but I've come to notice two main things about the recipes you find: they don't have enough oats and they don't cook the sugar long enough. This recipe has accounted for both of those problems. Also, you can use either quick or old-fashioned oats. Most people use quick, but I like the texture of the old-fashioned (and I think most health-conscious people tend to have the latter hanging around). I also like rice krispies in mine as well because they make the cookie kind of chewy. Sometimes I add coconut. You know... just whatever.

The second recipe is for my famous Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cookie. My bestie loves these. We don't make these very often (because most people are prejudiced against raisins), but they're totally awesome. They have great flavor and texture, and are chewy and moist. I once sent her a package of these to her for her birthday. I was here in the midwest, she was in Cali, and they arrived delicious and in perfect condition (or so I was told, lol). And they don't taste banana-y... just sayin'.

So yeah, try one of these obviously oatmeal-themed recipes!

Old-Fashioned No-Bakes:
1 stick of buttery Earth Balance (1/2 c.)
2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. soymilk
1/2 c. peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. oats
1 1/2 c. rice krispies

1. Melt the Earth Balance, sugar, cocoa, and soymilk over medium-high heat.
2. Once it comes to a boil, let it cook 2-3 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and quickly stir in peanut butter.
4. Add vanilla, oats, and rice krispies. Stir well and drop on a sheet of parchment/waxed paper.
5. Let cool, then enjoy!

Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cookies:
1/2 c. Turbinado sugar
1/2 c. real maple syrup
1/3 c. oil
1 banana, mashed well
1-1 1/4 c. unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. raisins
3/4 c. walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix together the sugar, syrup, oil, banana, and vanilla.
3. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and mix well.
4. Sitr in oats, raisins, and walnuts.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoon (that's right, tablespoon, bwahaha!!) onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes.
6. Let cool on cookie sheet 1 minute, then remove to a plate/wire rack. Enjoy!