Monday, March 29, 2010

Lousy weather can't hold me back!

(Cornelius and Me after walking in the rain)

I am posting this picture because this is a reminder for me-lousy weather cannot be an excuse for not working out.  Because Cornelius got out with me in the rain yesterday, I was able to meet my March Fitness Challenge goal of 2000 minutes of activity.  After I got out there and started walking, it wasn't too bad.  We got wet, yes, but we did it and it wasn't miserable.  Plus, look at how cute my little puppy is!  

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I am in love with Amazon Subscribe and Save

Vital wheat gluten is considered a "specialty item" where I live which, we all know, equals EXPENSIVE.  I think a bag of this goes for about $7.50-8.00 at my local grocery store and even at the health foods stores that are nearby.  But now that I am making my own seitan, vegan sausages, chickpea cutlets, etc., I use it frequently.  But Amazon has this amazing option on their website called "subscribe and save."  If you "subscribe" to the product and say you want it sent every 1,2,3 or 6 months, then you save an addtional 15%.  Their prices are already better b/c you are buying products in bulk (you have to buy 4 bags of vital wheat gluten at a time).  But if you use a product a lot, this is so worth it.  So, with the wheat gluten, it averages out to be about $4.80 a bag or something like that.  If I decide that I don't want to subscribe anymore, I just cancel it.  No penalties, no hoops to jump through.  It's simple.  I like that.  I have found that this is the best deal for me when buying agave nectar, cereal, and other items that are harder to find or just more expensive at the average grocery store or health food store.  

Monday, March 22, 2010

Being prepared saves me money!

I have recently started making some of my own vegan alternative products like seitan, vegan cheese and veggie burgers.  Yesterday I had a "make and freeze" frenzy!  I made the vegan block mozzarella from the Uncheese Cookbook. 

I like to make a batch of this vegan mozzarella and then divide it into servings and put it in the freezer.  Then we have it ready when we make pizza.  It doesn't have the same consistency as other vegan cheeses but it's still delicious on pizza and it's a lot cheaper.  Another expensive vegan alternative item is seitan.  Buying seitan from the store can be $4 or $5 a batch.  It's SOOO much cheaper to make it.  I make the recipe found in Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  It's simple to make and it's not complicated.  I make it and, just like with the vegan cheese, I divide it up in Tofutti containers and freeze it. 

Then I tried a new recipe this weekend--the Seitan Black Bean and Corn burgers from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook.  I am looking for an alternative to Morningstar Farms and Boca products because they are not organic and they are genetically modified.  I loved the way this burger from Vegan Yum Yum turned out.  It was very tasty and only one pt on Weight Watchers per burger.  That was exactly what I was looking for!

It did take me awhile in the kitchen yesterday to get everything cooked and divided up, but it's definitely worth it when you think of the money saved and how less processed things are if you make it yourself. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Products For My Weight Loss Journey

I am always looking for new products just like many other people who are trying to lose weight.  It's easy to get stuck in a rut and eat the same things every day because you have found something that's low point.  For example, for the longest time, I was eating the same thing for breakfast every morning:  1 cup of Clifford Crunch, 1/2 cup of Fiber One Original, 1 cup berries and 1 cup 365 brand Unsweetened Rice Milk.  I fell into this rut because it was a low point filling breakfast.  But I decided I needed to branch out and try some new things too.  I still eat many of these things listed above, but I mix it up now.  I have compiled a list of some of the products I use the most.  Some of them I have just discovered (thanks to other people on the Weight Watchers Vegetarian Message Board) and some of them I have used for awhile.  Also, some of these products I am phasing out of my diet because they are not organic or I have discovered they use genetically modified crops.  But here they are:

Clifford Crunch Cereal made by Cascadian Farms (organic)--Clifford Crunch is a lot like Lucky Charms cereal without the marshmallows and it's only 1 point per cup.

Barbara's Puffins Original Cereal-This product is not certified organic but Barbara's Bakery is a good company with ethical business practices.  You can have 3/4 of a cup of the Original Puffins for 1 point.

Whole Foods makes the 365 store brand.  Many times, you can really get a good deal on this brand.  I buy the Unsweetened Rice Milk by the case because I get a 10% discount that way.  There are a lot of perks to using this particular rice milk--it's vegan, organic and it's zero (yes, I said zero) points per cup.  The fiber is so high that it brings the points down to zero.  Also, it doesn't have to be refrigerated until it's opened.  That makes storing it very easy.  Plus, I don't live near a Whole Foods so when I go, I can easily stock up.

I have recently been making a lot of smoothies.  Sometimes I add silken tofu to them to get extra protein but I recently found out about Nutiva Hemp Shake to add to my smoothies.  A friend on the Vegetarian Message Board mentioned this product so I decided to give it a try.  I ordered a sampler pack so I could try all of the products and I discovered that my favorite was the Berry Pomegranate Hemp Shake.  It's 1 point per 4 TBSPs and it gives you a lot of fiber and protein.  Now when I have a smoothie, I get a calcium serving from the rice milk, 2 fruit servings, protein and extra fiber.  (All of that for 3 points-it's a good way to start the day.)

I have also tried to use less sugar, only whole wheat pastas, brown rice and other whole grains.  I bake with Agave Nectar instead of sugar now.  It's a syrup and it's a bit sweeter than maple syrup so you can use less of it than you would maple syrup or sugar.  It's supposed to be low on the glycemic index, however, I know there's still some speculation about this. 

Starletta is the brand I have found for organic whole wheat pasta. 

I have been buying white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour when baking.  I try to buy organic when available, but a lot of times, I have to buy what's available.  When organic is not available, my grocery store usually carries King Arthur brand White Whole Wheat Flour.

I am a dessert person.  I love to bake and I love to have something sweet at the end of th day.  This has been a big part of why I struggle with my weight.  It's a comfort food for me and I love to bake cookies, cupcakes, etc. especially when I have company.  I love to show people that vegan baked goods can be amazing.  However, I am not the type of person who can bake for others and not eat it.  So I have had to scale back a lot on baking or learn to bake healthier versions of my favorites such as chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cupcakes.  When I have dessert at night, these are some of the products that I love:

So Delicious non-dairy ice cream is amazing.  The Mocha Fudge flavor is only 2 points for 1/2 a cup. 

I know Ghiradelli brand is not organic, but they make my favorite vegan chocolate chip in the whole wide world.  It's the semi-sweet chocolate chip they make.

Suzanne's Rice Mellow cream is amazing.  It's made with brown rice syrup instead of sugar and it's also gluten free and vegan.  It's only 1 point for 3 TBSP.  It's a great non-dairy ice cream topper. 

Trader Joe's also makes a vegan mint chocolate called UFOs.  This is only an occasional treat for me because I often don't want to use my points for just a few chocolates, but they are really tasty.

Okay-so here's the deal with the rest of the products I am going to list.  They are not organic and, most likely, genetically modified.  I am not super proud of using these products but I feel I should list them because, right now, in my weight loss journey, they are getting me through the day.  However, I am phasing some of these products out.  If I am phasing a product out, I will show what I am replacing it with. 

Fiber One cereal has been my go-to cereal since this summer.  You can have 1/2 a cup for zero pts so I have mixed it with other cereals and I have also used it as a dessert when I make chocolate haystacks.  But it has aspartame, it's not organic and it's more than likely genetically modified.  Not good any way you look at it. 

But I have found this cereal.  The nutritional info is very similar to Fiber One and it's organic:

My love affair with Morningstar Farms is coming to an end.  So sad.....yes, indeed.  But it has to go.  I don't have to wonder about it being genetically modified....I know it is.  They have a statement about it stating that unless you buy the organic variety, you are getting genetically modified food.  So once it's out of my freezer, it's out of my life for good. 

But Dr. Praeger's makes veggie burgers that are not genetically modified.  I bought some of these this past weekend at Trader Joe's but I have not tried them yet.  I am also going to make my own seitan black bean burgers this weekend from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook (see previous post).  I have also started making my own seitan and vegan cheese.  This saves money and I am not buying heavily processed foods. 

These are some of the other products that I am less than proud of but I use them. 

Thomas Brand Bagel Thins--this product is fairly new, so I couldn't find an image.  But this is the brand logo:

Blue Diamond has refrigerated almond milk now.  The original variety is only 60 calories per serving and it's thick and a little sweet.  I really like the taste of it.  (Unfortunately, it's not organic though.)

Better Than Peanut Butter makes a peanut butter that's low fat.  I'm not sure how they do this (probably GMO) but I still buy it.  It gives me the taste of peanut butter but 2 TBSP is only 2 points instead of 5.  I like to make peanut butter toast with this. 

Okay, so this is my list I have now.  I am sure I am forgetting products and hopefully as I discover new products, I can post some more.  I am posting this because I know it really helps me to see what other vegans are eating.  Hopefully this will help you too. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Just bought this cookbook!

I am so excited about making some of these recipes.  The recipes don't seem too complicated and they also don't have a lot of unusual ingredients.  I am always turned off my cookbooks that seem too complicated and will take at least 2 hours to make or if they call for ingredients I have never heard of.  Don't get me wrong, it's good to branch out and try new things, but sometimes I just want simplicity.  I think I might make the Seitan Black Bean Burgers first!  

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I just finished the Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

Here's a video clip of Alicia Silverstone talking about the Kind Diet. I just finished this book and really liked it. I have also made the Sicilian Collard Greens, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and the Cupcakes (with a little modifying to make them WW friendly). They were all delicious. I really like the idea of not judging.....just taking one day at a time to reach your health goal. I definitely recommend this book!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

I got a great deal the other day on some red bell peppers that were starting to go bad.  I figured they would be perfect for stuffed bell peppers since red bell peppers are often too expensive to buy more than 1 or 2 of.  I also had some brown rice, and some Gimme Lean "Sausage" that needed to be used up.  So this was a great recipe to use up some things out of the refrigerator.  I based this recipe off of another recipe I found online. 

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

4 Red Bell Peppers
½ tube of Gimme Lean “Sausage” or “Beef”
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 TBSP pine nuts
1 cup corn
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp oregano
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and boil in a pot for about 10 minutes or until tender

Sautee the Gimme Lean and put in a mixing bowl

Add all other ingredients to the mixing bowl while the bell peppers continue to boil.

Stir the mixture well—it should make about 3 cups.

When the bell peppers are tender, remove them from the water with tongs.

In a large casserole dish, take ½ of the spaghetti sauce and cover the bottom and sides of the casserole dish so the peppers won’t stick.

Place the peppers face up so they can easily be filled with the mixture. Put about 1/3 of a cup in each ½ pepper.

Then take the last ½ of spaghetti sauce and dilute with water. Cover all of the peppers with the diluted spaghetti sauce.

Place in oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Makes about 4 servings