A week in the life of Laura

This morning I woke up and wanted to be Lilly for a day.

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Just lay in my huge bed and sleep sleep sleep.

My work-life balance this past week hasn’t been very balanced. Work is busy of course, but to make my world extra hectic I started taking classes to become a yoga teacher!

I’m really excited about my teacher training. It is something I have wanted to do for a couple years. The only down side to it is that it is very time consuming. I have 5 hours of classes I have to go to, plus commute time, plus homework.

Ok, I will stop complaining now. I realize this doesn’t sound like the greatest challenge anyone has ever faced. And it isn’t. This is something I’m doing for fun. Learning is fun!

What it really means is, I haven’t had time to get in the kitchen to make anything new to share on this here blog.

This is what I ate every day this week.
Breakfast: “Thin Mint” protein shake
Snack sometimes: a grapefruit
Lunch: Green Curry
Dinner: Salad made of leafy greens, black beans, brown rice and topped with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

This weekend I have high hopes of getting in the kitchen.

I have been on my cleanse now for over 4 weeks and it has gotten much easier! My chocolate and sugar cravings have pretty much gone away. Of course, if you put cookies in front of me I’m going to start drooling and then I would probably cry because I can’t have any. But I’m good, I swear! I have gotten in to a good groove with my meals and I feel totally satisfied! I actually feel really good and I when this cleanse is over in another month I don’t really want to introduce much sugar back in to my life. I think I’m better off without it!

I will be back soon with something more interesting, I promise!

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Scrambled Tofu and Hash Browns

I absolutely love making breakfast on the weekends and this cleanse has really slowed my roll. No scones, no biscotti, no pancakes. Sigh.

But scrambled tofu is totally allowed!

There are about a zillion recipes for scrambled tofu on the web. I have been making this one for years and it is the best I have ever had. I actually don’t even want to compare it to scrambled eggs because it tastes so much better than scrambled eggs. There’s no comparison! There is curry in this recipe but I wouldn’t say there is a strong curry flavor. So curry haters, you might even like it.

Oh, and today is another two for one! I have two recipes!

Because scrambled tofu must be served with hash browns.

Normally I make hash browns with my food processor, using the shredding blade. Today I used my mandolin but I didn’t like how thick the shreds were. So I still recommend using a food processor to get the potato shredded.

Scrambled Tofu Ingredients:
1 lb extra firm tofu
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Crumble the tofu into the pan, just smashing it through your fingers. Then add all the other ingredients and stir to combine. Be careful not to smash the tofu up too much. Think scrambled egg consistency. Cook for a few minutes without stirring to let the tofu start to brown. Then stir it up and let it brown a bit longer. Cook until desired brown-ness is achieved.

Now set the tofu aside if you only have one pan. I place my tofu on a plate and stick it in the oven so it stays warm. Just have the oven temp as low as it will go.

Hash Brown Ingredients
1 potato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

First, shred the potato using a food processor preferably. Place the shredded potato on a microwave safe dinner plate. Spread the potato out evenly so it’s not in one big clump. Microwave the potato for 4 minutes.
Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add a little salt and pepper and the garlic. Once the potato is done in the microwave flip the plate over the skillet to dump the potato in the pan. The key now is to not stir the potato or it will turn into mealy mush. The potato can be spread out a little, as needed but don’t manipulate it too much. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on. Leave it alone for a few minutes as it browns. After a few minutes take a peek at the cooking side and see how it looks. If it has browned sufficiently, flip it over using a pancake turner or spatula. This might mean separating the potatoes into quarters so they can be flipped. Once they are flipped over, allow the other side to brown. Once the desired color and crispness is achieved they are done!

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Notice the French press coffee in the picture? 🙂 I have decided to add coffee back in to my life. This cleanse eliminates all sugar and a bunch of other foods from my diet, but coffee was on the no-no list too. I decided that was stupid since coffee doesn’t have sugar in it and because I love it. Of all food items in the world, I think I would give up anything but coffee. Bold claim? Perhaps. I just really don’t think one cup of coffee in the morning is bad for you. Plus, I would say I’m much more pleasant to be around when I’ve had coffee. So really, I’m making the world a better place. 🙂

I have been on the cleanse for 4 weeks now. 4-8 more weeks to go!

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing

I am a huuuuuge fan of cilantro dressing. And cilantro in general. I have had this dressing every night on my salad for at least two weeks straight now. That’s how I roll. I get obsessed with one food item, eat it for months straight then move on to the next.

It is also amazing on beans and rice. When I make my salad I start with warm beans and rice then I stir a little dressing in. Then I add my greens and cucumber and top with more dressing.

It’s great on sandwiches and burgers too! Seriously, this dressing has so many uses. Plus I love that it actually has nutritional value.

The creaminess comes from tofu. Now don’t be scared! I promise it does not taste weird or tofu-like at all. It’s just light and creamy and delicious.

On a side note, Costco sells tofu now! This is big news people, BIG! It’s in the refrigerated section close to the rotisserie chicken section and the fancier cheeses. You know the section I’m talking about. 🙂

Ingredients:
1 pound silken tofu (I prefer the refrigerated kind but the shelf stable kind works here as well)
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 packets of stevia or 1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 cup hemp oil (or olive or grape sees oil)
1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves (just trim the dirty stem part off)

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender, scraping the sides down as needed.
Store in the refrigerator.

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And last, here are more pretty flower pictures my boyfriend took on our trip to Sun Valley. I want to go back! 🙂

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“Thin Mint” Protein Shake

I know all my recipes lately have been short and sweet. That is because I have had no time to spend in the kitchen because work has been absolutely crazy!

Good crazy. But crazy none the less.

I am sooooo looking forward to Saturday. Oh, and I just started the fourth week of the cleanse! Time is flying!

I have had this smoothie for breakfast every day for last 10 days probably. The peppermint extract is a real game changer let me tell you. I feel like I’m drinking a dessert when I have this. I don’t think I will ever be able to go back to plain chocolate protein.

This recipe would work with any protein powder but I use Vega protein since it comes from plants. Crazy, right? The best part is, 1 scoop only has 120 calories, 25 grams of protein and only 1-2 grams of sugar. And of course it has about a days worth of vegetables in it. I love this stuff!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup crushed ice
1 tablespoon flax oil or omega 3-6-9 oil
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 scoop chocolate vega sport protein
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Blend all ingredients and run out the door thinking you are having a milkshake for breakfast!

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Protein Boosted Blueberry Sorbet

I am feeling like quite the genius right now. I bet nobody has ever even heard of putting fruit in a blender.

Whaaaaa…you have? Ok, fine.

I had a rough weekend in the food department. Saturday I went to work and was surrounded by peanut m&m’s, Costco cookies and brownies. Basically my favorite foods all in one place.
Then Sunday I had another work event that involved cookies, peanut butter bars and brownies all from my favorite vegan bakery.

I am still on lock down due to my cleanse. I decided I needed to come up with some type of dessert because I can only eat so many beet chips.

Which by the way, I got my mandolin and I have perfected beet chips. They cook for 30-50 minutes depending on how thick or thin they are. Keep a close eye on them once they start to crinkle up.

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That probably doesn’t look good to anyone but me. But they are good, I promise. The key is to stop cooking them before they are blackened to a burnt crisp. It’s a fine line.

Back to my dessert.

I am allowed one handful of blueberries a day. So I made this really quick sorbet and threw a little berry protein powder in to give it some oomph.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon berry flavor Vega Sport protein
3 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Place ingredients in a small blender or food processor. Blend until a frozen dessert like consistency. Eat!

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This picture is a two for one! I said, “Lilly, look beautiful!” and she did just that. She is feeling SO much better. 🙂

Here is the vega sport protein. My favorite protein powder.

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I will have more Vega recipes later this week!

Thai Green Curry

Last weekend my boyfriend and I went to Sun Valley, Idaho and had the most amazing time! I have been to Sun Valley many times but there was something really special about this trip. We went mountain biking, my boyfriend went speed flying (a crazy hobby that is all his, not mine. I just like to watch) a couple times and we just wandered around the town taking in all the sights. We went in a store that had a knit sweater for sale for over $1000! The sales woman took one look at us and somehow knew we weren’t serious shoppers. Whatever.

We took some pictures while we were there. He has a fancy camera, I have an iPhone. Here is a fancy iPhone picture.

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Unfortunately, I came home to a very sick little Lilly pug. I rushed her to the vet and they didn’t really even know what was wrong with her. She had some sort of any infection. She was soooo skinny, wouldn’t eat and had the saddest little look on her face. I couldn’t stop crying long enough to even take a picture of her.

But don’t worry, she is better now! Thank goodness for antibiotics! She spent a couple days in the hospital and is now on the mend.

Here she is when I brought her home. So exhausted, she made a nest in a pile of clean blankets that were warm out of the dryer.

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Today she is almost back to her normal self. The vet gave her special food and said that was all she could have for the next week. No kale for Lilly. You try to tell her that because she doesn’t listen to me!

Ok, the curry…so original, I know. I have just been loving curry on this cleanse because it fills me up and I in no way feel like I am depriving myself. This curry is a little simpler to make than the red curry and my boyfriend said he liked it more. So…WINNING! I had to pack all my food with me when I went to Sun Valley and this was one I brought with me. That is cleanse dedication! Feel free to throw other vegetables in here as you wish. I will be putting a zucchini in my next batch!

Ingredients:
2 packages tofu, cubed and cooked
1 can coconut milk (I used the full fat kind but feel free to use light)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 pound French green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
4 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons green curry paste
Salt to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:
Cook the tofu and set it aside.

In a large frying pan or wok heat the oil on medium heat. Add the garlic, bell pepper, onion and green beans and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and crushed red pepper, cook for about 1 more minute.
While the vegetables cook, combine the coconut milk, broth and curry paste in a bowl. Pour over the vegetables, add the tofu and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Serve over warm brown rice.

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Summer Rolls-part 2

It was my boyfriends birthday a couple weeks ago and I wanted to make him something special. In my opinion, Summer Rolls are one of the most special meals you can make. The options are endless for what to stuff them with. We had so much fun making them and spending time together in the kitchen. It was a perfect birthday in my opinion!

I have already posted the ingredients on here once before.

The pictures weren’t very good though so I wanted to post something better.

See…

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For the ingredients I used:
Rice wrappers
Brown rice vermicelli noodles (about 1/2 the package)
Tofu
Cucumber
Avocado
Mango
Peanuts
Cilantro
Carrots

We just mixed and matched the ingredients to make a variety of rolls.

First I prepare all the ingredients and get them set out so I can easily reach them.

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Then I form my assembly line. You will need a large bowl full of hot water, a plate or two for assembling the rolls, all the ingredients within arms reach and a couple plates for finished rolls.

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To assemble a roll, start by soaking the rice wrapper in warm water for a few seconds, then carefully lay it out on a plate. Place some vermicelli noodles in the lower 1/3 of the wrapper. Then start filling it with whatever ingredients you want.

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To finish, fold the right and left sides in, then start rolling it up starting at the bottom. Place aside on a plate and try not to eat it immediately!

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The other reason I made these is because they were something I could actually eat during this crazy cleanse!

The cleanse by the way is going well for the most part. I just started my third week. I have really been enjoying eating curries and some of my salads. My mandoline arrives tomorrow and I’m excited to make more beet chips! I have some other new recipes up my sleeve that I’m excited to post as well.

I still continue to miss coffee and chocolate on a daily basis…

Creamy Amaranth Breakfast

This is probably, technically, porridge. But I hate the word porridge. Isn’t that what the 3 bears ate? Porridge doesn’t sound very good. And this. This is awesome.

As I have mentioned I have been really hungry on this cleanse. Especially come breakfast time since fruit, toast and oatmeal are off limits.

And being hungry makes me daydream about food a lot.

I have had some amaranth in my pantry and I haven’t really known what to do with it. Then I had an idea to turn it in to “cream of wheat”. I used to LOVE cream of wheat! Especially with a little melted butter on it! Do you know what I’m talking about?!

Amaranth is very similar to quinoa in terms of nutrition, which means its a good source of protein and carbohydrate. It cooks the same as quinoa but has a much stickier texture when it’s done cooking. On this cleanse I actually can have butter, as crazy as that sounds. I don’t eat butter, so I used earth balance “butter”. I also chose to use full fat coconut milk because on this cleanse I am not getting much fat. It’s hard for me to not be afraid of fat after being told for so many years how bad fat is. But fat isn’t bad as long as its the right fat. Bring on the coconut milk, almond butter, flax seed and avocados!

Anyway, my experiment worked and the final result was MIND BLOWING! It tastes just like cream of wheat! I just love the slightly salty flavor. I had to stop myself from gobbling down the whole pan! Even though this is one of my cleanse meals, I will definitely continue to eat this after I’m done cleansing. It’s that good.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cooked amaranth
2 tablespoons canned coconut milk (not light)
1 teaspoon butter
Dash of salt to taste

Directions:
Cook desired amount of amaranth on the stovetop at a 2:1 ratio of water to amaranth. So 1 cup dry amaranth to 2 cups of water. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat to low, simmer for 20 or so minutes. If the amaranth is very sticky add water to thin out if desired.

Scoop 1/2 cup cooked amaranth into a bowl. Add the coconut milk, butter and salt to taste. Adjust as desired. Thin with water, coconut milk or almond milk if needed.

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Baked Beet Chips

The hardest part about this cleanse isn’t that I can’t have chocolate or coffee (although I miss them every day) it’s that there is nothing I can snack on. Aside from almonds and carrots, I haven’t found anything I can quickly pop in my mouth.

And at night I like to graze. I used to graze on dove dark chocolate. Now I graze on…

BEETS

That’s right, beets. I have only had beets once or twice in my life. I didn’t love them. But for some reason I was inspired (desperate) to try baking some beet chips so I would have something to snack on. The good news is: baked beet chips are delicious! They taste just like potato chips! Even my boyfriend liked them!

I started with 3 HUGE beets and ended up with probably 3 servings of chips. Beets aren’t cheap either! But since nobody sells baked beet chips I’m kind of on my own. The other key is that they have to be sliced extremely thin. I was slicing by hand just using a large knife. It took me a long time, plus some slices were way too thick and didn’t turn out. I am now researching mandoline’s so I can easily make thin slices. They range in price from $10-$300. It will be well worth it though for more delicious chips!

Ingredients:
3 beets, scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet (or 2) with parchment paper. Slice the beets as thin as possible. Toss slices in a large bowl with olive oil. Lay slices out in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crispy, 20-??? minutes. Toss with salt to taste.

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I wish I had used parchment paper

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Mmmm…chips

Breakfast Brown Rice Pudding (sugar free)

Before I share this recipe, let me tell you why I created it.

I’m doing another cleanse.

I am not doing this cleanse for fun, I promise. I am just trying to heal my body. If it works I will share the results for sure.

This cleanse is quite a bit more restrictive than my normal cleanse. I already follow a plant based diet, but this eliminates many of my staple foods. This cleanse cuts out the following foods:

Bread, anything with any type of sugar, fruit (I can have 1 handful of berries a day), corn, anything containing corn, agave nectar, crackers, wheat, spelt, yeast, oatmeal, any type of flour, peanuts, cashews. Obviously, no cupcakes, cookies, treats or ANYTHING remotely fun.

The list of foods I can eat is much shorter:
All vegetables (except corn, peas and mushrooms), brown rice, avocado, beans, lentils, quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, handful of berries a day, almonds, almond butter, almond mild, coconut milk, 1 serving of sweet potatoes twice a week.

Phew!

I ran into problems with I found myself starving in the morning after working out. Usually before a long run or a bike ride I always eat ezekiel bread or oatmeal. But both of those are off limits.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I am trying to eat this way for 1-3 months. I know, seriously.

But I can have brown rice! But I can’t sweeten it with anything normal like agave nectar. I can have a little stevia but I try not to rely on it too much.

So, I created a brown rice pudding with protein in it and it’s actually pretty good! The flax seed gives it a nice pudding consistency so I almost feel like I’m eating dessert. The best part is, it actually keeps me full until lunch which was exactly what I needed it to do.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 -1 cup coconut milk or almond milk (unsweetened!)
2 heaping tablespoons vega sport protein, vanilla flavor
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 packet stevia
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon almond butter

Directions:
Combine the protein, flax, cinnamon & stevia in a bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup milk and the vanilla. Stir to combine. Add the rice and stir. Microwave for 1-2 minutes. Top with almond butter. Add more milk to thin to desired consistency.

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