Category Archives: low carb

Leftover Lentils

What do you know? It’s crock pot time!

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When I planned my meals for the week, I knew I would have a lot of leftover veggies, so I knew a lentil stew would be the perfect way not to let it go to waste….

So, all I did was put lentils in the crock pot with some vegetable broth, added two left-over vegan sausages, carrots, celery, and green peppers, plus some spices, and let it do its thing overnight.

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The result: a delicious hearty stew that lasted us for days. During stormy and chilly fall days, this is pretty close to the ideal office lunch. Leftovers made from leftovers — winning.

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Filed under dairy-free, gluten-free, leftovers, low carb, lunch-prep, vegan

Creamy Avocado Spaghetti Squash

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After tackling my first squash in the slow cooker last week, I was ready to take it one step further: spaghetti squash.

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After slicing it in half and scooping out the seeds, I brushed the halves with oil and sprinkled them with sea salt and pepper before roasting them in the oven face down for 40 minutes.

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While they were roasting, I made the creamy avocado sauce (two avo halves, 3 cloves of garlic, juice of half a lemon, 2 tbsp olive oil, fresh basil) in the blender. A food processor would have worked better, but who owns such extravagancy?

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Once they finished roasting, the fun could begin. I took a fork and carved out the strings, which was really easy and gave me much more flesh than I expected.

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And here it is: the perfect alternative to pasta – vegan, gluten-free, and amazingly nutritious and tasty. Between the squash and the avocado, the nutritional profile of this dish is out of control awesome.

I really needed a nutritious boost too after my workout class tonight. I am still following my fitness plan pretty much perfectly. Friday, I was supposed to run 3 miles, but I had more dental work, which left me in pain, so I switched out Friday for my planned rest day on Sunday and made up for it then.

The goal for the month of November is to be able to run 3 10-minute miles comfortably.

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Filed under gluten-free, low carb, vegan

Quick Weeknight Dinner

Stuffed vegan peppers were one of my prepped meals this week. Well, actually, they made for several prepped meals, both for lunch and dinner.

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They keep well in a tupperware container im the fridge and are delicious hot or cold. The quinoa and black beans are a powerful protein combo that fills me up, and the cilantro and spices make for a satisfying to-go meal. Perfect for a busy lifestyle.

You can get creative with stuffed peppers and pretty much load them with whatever you want/have on hand.

My meal prep marathon on Sunday has seriously made my week so much easier. There is so much going on at work that I’m just beat when I get home. Tonight, I plan to refresh myself with an easy run around the neighborhood, eat a quick, prepped, nutritious dinner, and curl up on the couch with a book. Happy Hump Day!

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Filed under low carb, lunch-prep, vegan

Sweet Potato & Kale Gratin

I wasn’t sure how this recipe would turn out because it calls for parmesan cheese and I used Daiya Cheeze. Not that this made it a vegan dish, it was just what I had.

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Non-vegan ingredients were heavy whipping cream and whole milk, which I still had left over from Sunday’s Turkish dinner extravaganza.

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I mixed the cream and milk with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. I love nutmeg. When I went to college in Germany, I always made mashed potatoes from scratch with tons of nutmeg. Yum.

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Turns out, the nutmeg was a hero in this one also, and the Daiya Cheeze and dairy products were totally compatible. It was absolutely delicious and I was only sad that I had to stick to a small portion because of the heavy ingredients.

More for lunch tomorrow!

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Race Weekend – Part 3

First order of business when we left the hotel after my shower and Daiya pizza snack was to go back to the village for some free beer and exploring of the little shops.

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Each runner got a coupon for a German beer at the beer hall. I traded mine in for a Bavarian wheat beer. I would say it was moderately to severely refreshing.

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Dave went with Koelsch, a light beer from Cologne, which he later regretted because it gave him a headache. Serves him right – Duesseldorf, my hometown, and Cologne have a huge beer and everything-else rivalry.

We walked around the village….

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And scoped out some Antique shops.

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I found it interesting/disturbing that this shop sold swastikas as World War II memorabilia.

But anyway…

We headed back to State College in the afternoon because I was running out of steam a bit. Although I must say I felt much better than I expected after the race and stayed fit and alert all day. I think that has to do with all the water, gatorade, and Gu I consumed while running. A lesson to remember.

On our way home, we stopped at My Thai to get the red curry shrimp dish I’m obsessed with for carry-out.

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And then several glorious hours of vegging out on the couch with trashy TV followed.

Dave’s headache was getting worse and worse, so we headed to bed around 6. I put a heating pad on his head and read The Dark Monk to him – a book his dad sent us. It is really good and we’ve been reading it together every day since.

Sunday, we did chores, went to the UUs, played some tennis, and enjoyed/prepped some good foodie treats:

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After finishing off the Thai leftovers for lunch, we each had a bowl of Greek yogurt with honey and frozen berries. Freshness delight.

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In an effort to use up leftovers, I made this veggie casserole. I just threw in whatever I had in the fridge. It had spinach, kale, carrots, cauliflower, vegetable broth, and Daiya cheese. I tried a little bit of it and then had it Monday for lunch. It was pretty damn awesome, if I do say so myself. I love when randomness tastes this good. Major credit goes to the Daiya cheeze, of course.

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For our dinners, I made sweet potato wraps. In my effort to be low-carb, I used lettuce instead of actual wraps. The yogurt had tons of mint and lemon zest for a fresh, tangy twist. And I left the peel on the sweet potatoes, coated them in olive oil, and baked them in the oven for 20 minutes.

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Other ingredients were onions seared in sumac and cumin as well as toasted almonds. We had to eat the “wraps” with a fork and knife, but that was the only disadvantage of this combo. Very delicious and a summer-appropriate. Image

Finally, I must admit to a new obsession. These amazing vegetable chips tempted me at Wegman’s on Sunday and I have eaten my way through 90% of the bag since then. They have coconut oil, canola oil, tons of yummy spices, and vegetables, so they are pretty healthy as far as chips go. So currently I have them as an appetizer before dinner and then a few spoons of chocolate coconut milk ice cream for desert every night. Ooops.

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Filed under dairy-free, German, low carb, recipes, running, vegan

Beyond the Half Marathon

Now that my half marathon is only one day away (eeek), I’ve started thinking about how I want to change up my diet and exercise routine post-race. This coincided with an enlightening conversation I had with my homeopath and some subsequent research I did, so I’m thinking a lot of that will drive my direction starting Sunday.

The reason I initially went to a homeopath was that I went off birth control in August, not because we’re trying to have a baby, but because I grew uncomfortable with artificially regulating my hormones. I wanted to work with her to find natural remedies that can help me return to a more natural state of being, and also wanted to address the symptoms that returned a few months after stopping the birth control pills: acne, menstrual cramps – all the good stuff BC takes care of so nicely.

She gave me remedies that support the endocrine system (hypothalmus, thyroid, liver, ovaries) in order to regulate my hormones naturally. So far, I’ve seen good results, and am excited for more progress in the future.

But two days ago, during our third appointment, we discussed polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). I was prompted to ask her about it because a friend of mine just found out she has it. In summary, this condition is caused by hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance. Symptoms include acne, weight issues, and infertility. Due to an overproduction of testosterone in females, exacerbated by too much insulin production as a result of a poor diet (too many sugars and carbs), estrogen levels become disproportionate, which prevents ovulation, causes acne, and leads to insulin resistance (and thus weight gain).

Doctors, without being too concerned with the root cause of such symptoms, often prescribe birth control pills to increase estrogen levels. The acne and irregular periods disappear, so seemingly, all is well. But this means that the ovaries artificially shut down, which throws off hormonal regulation even more and exacerbates the whole situation. Not to mention that high estrogen levels can increase your risk of breast cancer.

Since I’ve struggled with some of these symptoms and was on estrogen-heavy birth control pills for years, I asked my homeopath if she thought I maybe had polycystic ovarian syndrome. The name, by the way, derives from the fact that your ovaries build dockets that are supposed to release eggs, but accumulate in cyst like bumps if that doesn’t happen (due to a lack of estrogen/too much testosterone). She said the thought has crossed her mind, but that my case, if anything, would not be very advanced, and that there is no way to know until I try getting pregnant. Meanwhile, she said, we are already working with remedies that would address the root cause: hormonal imbalance.

All this led me to research polycystic ovarian syndrome more, which got me to think hard about the amount of carbs I consume.

My friend, who just found out she has PCOS, said she now has to go on the Paleo diet and avoid grains, sugars, and processed foods at all times. When we consume too many carbs early in life, our body produces tons and tons of insulin to break down the glucose. Due to the liver’s high exposure to insulin, as we grow older, we develop an insulin resistance, which leads to weight gain (nothing is preventing the glucose from turning into fat) and suffer from worsening hormonal imbalances. At this point, whenever we eat carbs, the body wants to turn them into fat. The solution: cut out carbs, get leaner, improve your hormonal regulations, and prevent life-threatening conditions such as diabetes (also cause by insulin resistance).

So, although I’m not sure if I have PCOS or might develop it down the line, I am concerned because I clearly have natural hormonal imbalances. If overconsumption of carbs in my early life (hello, I’m from Germany – the land of delicious bread and Spaetzle) is the reason for those and I now am developing more and more of an insulin resistance, I want to make sure I do something about it.

As a runner, I know that I need carbs, and I also have no interest in becoming a crabby debbie-downer that eats nothing but smoked salmon and tuna straight from the can. But I maybe should consider limiting my grain-intake to oats and quinoa, and focusing on eating carbs early in the day. This way, I would make eggs, veggies, fruits, healthy oils, and fish the core pillars of my diet. I also have to become even more conscious of avoiding soy because my over-exposure to it during my birth control years may have put me at higher risk for breast cancer (estrogen receptors in the breast can cause tumor growth if over-stimulated). This means my diet could then be labeled as mostly dairy free, pescetarian, gluten-free, and soy-free.

For someone who used to eat anything and everything (ok, maybe aside from rabbit meat), this is quite a list of limitations. But my health has become much more important to me in the past five years and I want to set myself up for a long, active life.

So here are a few ideas for breakfasts that fit the bill:

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Avocado slices and a mushroom omelette (stirred with almond milk, fried in coconut oil).

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Oats with nutritional yeast, a fried egg, and avocado.

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Coconut yogurt.

Coconut oil, by the way, is extremely good for the endocrine system, so adding 1-2 tablespoons a day to your diet is a great idea. I put it in my morning smoothie, fry eggs and everything else in it, and eat it raw (letting it melt under my tongue) when I’m feeling particularly ambitious. Not to mention applying it to my face as lotion and my scalp as a moisturizer.

In terms of my training-regimen after tomorrow, I want to increase my speed, so I’ll be doing interval training during the week, and maintain a 6-mile distance on weekends. I may sign up for a 10 k this summer to push myself. I also want to add different types of yoga, weight training, and potentially try out some fitness classes around State College.

I will leave you with a plug for the free Lululemon “Om Finder” App. I’m obsessed with Lululemon’s branding strategy and their creative ways to get people to do yoga.

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Filed under low carb, running, yoga

Sunny Maze

After having to complete my last 10+ mile run on the treadmill (shudder), I was beyond excited to see the weather forecast for Saturday: 55 and sunny. Oh State College, why do days like that have to be so desperately rare right now?

I mapped a 12-mile run via mapmyrun.com – my last long-run before the half-marathon in 2 weeks. From now on, I start tapering down, never doing more than 8 miles. Around 1 pm, I headed out.

It was so nice out – the time just flew by. I also felt really strong because I took a running-break this week due to my crazy schedule. I took a route I’d never taken before, along a long stretch of country road.

Because it was so nice out, I decided to take pictures, which turned out better than I expected, considering I took them on my phone while running.

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Loving the blue sky with the back-drop of Mount Nittany.

I was so enamored with the view, the weather, and my playlist that I didn’t notice that I took the wrong turn on this road. I took a left when I was really supposed to keep going straight.

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Windy country-road leading me back into town. I had no reason to believe I wasn’t following my mapped-out route.

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Lovely little creek.

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Back in town, ready to take a left back towards our neighborhood. At this point, it dawned on me that I was ahead of schedule. I expected the run to last around 2 hours and 15 minutes, but was only and hour and 11 in with approximately 3 miles left.

When I got back to our neighborhood, I was sure that I took a premature turn somewhere, and added an extra loop to prolong the run. When I got back, my knees and calves were grateful to be done, although my mind and lungs felt like I could have gone on longer to enjoy more of the glorious sun.

A look at the map quickly revealed that I did in fact cut my run substantially short because of the missed turn, I ended up doing 10 miles instead of 12. I was bummed, but what can I do? I think I’ll be able to do 13.1 in two weeks anyway, so no need to beat myself up over it. I stretched and showered, and then Dave and I went on to enjoy the nice day.

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We started with an early salmon and asparagus dinner on the balcony. First meal outside this year!

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For desert, we had some of the Easter chocolate Dave’s mom sent in her Easter package. It also contained about 400 wedding picture prints, so we can spend this rainy Easter Sunday afternoon scrapbooking.

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I also must give a shout-out to my new shearling suede slippers from Sundance, which I got from their heavily discounted employee sale through a co-worker. I am obsessed with them and want to wear them 24/7. They were perfect for an early spring dinner in the shade.

Later in the night, we met some people from Dave’s program for trivia night. I had two wheat beers to help with my light-headedness after the run.

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Our team won first place, and it’s pretty safe to say that I had absolutely nothing to do with that.

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