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How To Fight Sugar Cravings (and all cravings!)

 

I recently came across an NPR article that helps to identify ways of resisting sugar cravings...specifically REFINED sugar cravings. You know the ones... the article sites them as specific cravings that ruin your 'New Year, New You' diet in less than a week and leave you helplessly waiting 360 more days for another futile resolution. The article is very interesting and actually equates those cravings to addiction, which may not be so far off.
A great take home message from this piece is a list of ways to FIGHT CRAVINGS... a compelation of advice from the author's of Why Diet's Fail and two notable food psychologists/food addiction specialists. See below for the full list: 
  • "If you think you are highly sensitive to sugar, then trying to have just a little may be worse than having none at all, because it could keep the sensitivity alive, says Prager. Instead, try to eliminate it entirely for at least three weeks to see if the cravings fade.
  • When embarking on a sugar-free mission, try to keep the long-term goals at the forefront of your mind. Keep reminding yourself of how much you'll enjoy feeling stronger and healthier, or how you'll enjoy better-fitting clothes.
  • Take a week or two to monitor exactly when the cravings hit. Then figure out what the cues are — like stress, boredom, emotional downers or the need for a distraction.
  • In these moments when the cravings hit, pause and think about what you need or do not need to eat at the moment. Are you actually hungry? Can you fulfill the need another way, like taking a quick walk?
  • Find new foods that are rewarding, like new kinds of nuts and fruits, and keep them around. "Our environment always shoves in our face hyper-rewarding foods, and we can't control that," says Gearhardt. "We can keep foods we do like around, so that if we find ourselves in a bad mood, with cravings, we're not setting ourselves up to fail."
  • Exercise. A recent brain imaging study found that cardiovascular activity may repair the part of the brain affected by food addiction. It also found that people who exercise regularly had a lower "reward response" to images of palatable food."

 

In short:
Detox (eliminate all sugar for a few weeks)
Record (when and why cravings hit)
Replace (with fruit and healthy, unrefined sugars)
Exercise (see THIS study to learn more about cardio and addiction repair)
Full article HERE.

Creamy Potato Veggie Soup


As promised, the recipe for yesterday's creamy and hearty, low-fat, vegan, amazing soup!

You Will Need:
  • 4 carrots (chopped)
  • 5 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 6 shiitaki mushroom tops, sliced in quarters
  • tofu, optional
  • 1 table spoon of veggie broth bouillon or paste
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3 small potatoes or 1/2 large one, chopped into 1 inch cubes (should be about 1 cup when chopped up)
  • Pepper optional (to taste)

 Directions:
  1. Add all of the ingredients (veggies, tofu and broth...save pepper and almond milk) into a large pot. Add about 5 cups of water. Cover.
  2. Allow the pot to simmer for about 30-40 minutes, until veggies are soft when pierced with a fork.
  3. Remove the cooked potatoes. 
  4. In a small blender, mix potatoes, 1.5 cup broth and 1 cup almond milk until smooth. This will make up your creamy base.
  5. Pour 1 cup of creamy base into a bowl, ladle out veggies from pot and add in. Top with pepper. 
  6. Enjoy! Make sure to save the broth in which the veggies were boiled. This is what all of the nutrients have leached out into... super healthy!


Weekend eats

This work week was brutal. Friday night I could barely peel myself from the couch and Saturday morning I slept until 10am. I had quite the laundry list of things to do that day (including laundry) so I forced myself to be productive. 

I started the day with three rice cakes topped with mashed banana and cinnamon.
 

I was a little too lazy to go running, which happens sometimes because I'm human. In these situations I try to incorporate fitness in other avenues of daily life. The grocery store is about a mile and a half from my house, so I walked there! I got some ingredients I needed for a huge coconut milk, veggie and greens stew with rice- rural Japan style. The walk back was definitely exercise. I had two liters of water, two cans of coconut milk and a large container of almond milk in that bag. When passerbys weren't watching I pumped the bag like a kettlebell :)

 

For lunch I met a friend at a little cafe. They had a six bean soup special which I got, drank the broth and poured the beans over a house salad. No dressing needed. 

 

My crockpot was occupied by my epic Rural Japan soup, so I threw the remaining ingredients from my fridge in a pot and slow boiled up a creamy, potato based veggie soup. In the winter I could eat soup all day every day. I generally get cold weather cravings for massive amounts of warm and hearty foods. Soup does the trick. I can eat like 6 bowls without overfeeding myself since it's really like a big hot salad with a few glasses of broth thrown in there. I'll post the recipe for this creamy potato and veggie soup tomorrow.


Finally, I had some leftover chocolate fudge brownie squares for dessert with a cup of tea and almond milk. Yum!


I mentioned that this work week was brutal. I left the office most days around 6, having gotten there between 6:30am and 7:30am. That means basically no sunlight all day. The silver lining was when I finished the mile walk to my car and turned the corner to the water front where it was parked, I was greeted with an amazing sunset over a high tide. 
 
 

video

Always look for the silver lining friends!!

Zoodle Mac and Cheeze

I've used this cheeze sauce in other recipes, including those seriously tasty cheeze fries last week. It was only a matter of time before this sauce ended up on some zoodles in a pseudo mac and cheese recipe.



You will need:
  • 2 zucchinis, spiralized (raw or steamed)
  • 1 cup of cauliflower, steamed. (About 6 large florettes)
  • 3 heaping tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Almond milk


Instructions:
  1. Blend steamed cauliflower, nutritional yeast, salt & pepper, garlic, nutmeg and nutritional yeast until smooth. Add only enough almond milk to until you have reached desired consistency. I like mine more on the thick, creamy side.  
  2. Simply mix with zoodles and voila!






Loaded Cheeze Fries, vegan, fat free, amazing.

These are my new staple comfort food. Easy to make, clean and seemingly sinful. 


You will need:
  • 3-4 small potatoes (what you can hold in one hand)
  • 1 stalk green onions, chopped
  • 4 tbs nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste (or tamari)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (any milk will do)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (optional, makes it yellow)
  • 1 cup cauliflower florettes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (adds a creamy flavor)
  • ketchup, optional 

Sorry, I took a ton of pictures and thought they all looked good. Couldn't leave any out!


Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400*
  2. Chop potatoes into fries
  3. Chop onion into small pieces
  4. Chop green onions
  5. Steam cauliflower until soft.
  6. When oven is ready, bake potatoes for 40-45 minutes (until browning) and onions for about 15 minutes or until browned. 
  7. Use a blender to blend minced garlic, steamed cauliflower, nutritional yeast, almond milk, turmeric, sea salt to taste and a small pinch of nutmeg. Blend until smooth, add salt and pepper or tamari as needed.
  8. Once the potatoes are done, remove from oven, allow to cool and plate. 
  9. Top with cheez sauce and mix until fries are coated. 
  10. Top plate with green onion, baked onion and ketchup if desired.

Enjoy!!




Pre-Thanksgiving Snack and Juice

The day before Thanksgiving I was off work and motivated to get moving before being comatose the next day. My morning started out with some bananas and a fantastic long run just over 4 miles. 

 

I came home and hydrated with a green juice consisting of 1/2 apple, 1/2 cup pineapple, 1/2 cucumber, 1 tbs flax meal, a handful of dandelion greens and 6 cups of water. I like re-hydrating with carbs as studies show this is more effective than water alone.



For lunch I had a big bowl of quinoa with spinach and tofu and a side of delicious sweet red peppers. 


The rest of my day was pretty busy, but when I came home I was excited to make my vegan, fat free cheese fries. The recipe will be on the blog tomorrow :)


I polished off the whole plate pretty quickly :)

Happy December!

Savory Collard Burritos

You Will Need:
  • 4 Collard Leaves, washed, stemmed thinned (shave thickest part down with a veggie peeler)
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 cup onion, sliced
  • 1 cup black eyed peas, cooked (optional)
  • 1/2 cup marinara (preferably raw or LF, low sodium)
  • 1/2 tbs nut butter
  • Small pinch of cinnamon

To Make:

1. Steam all veggies lightly
2. In a large bowl add veggies, beans, nut butter and marinara. Mix together. 
3. Sprinkle with a small pinch of cinnamon. Salt and pepper, optional.
4. Heap about 1/2-1 cups worth onto a collard leaf (see image above)
5. Start by folding in the outsides (longer side)
6. Roll from the top, starting away from the rind, towards the thick part of the rind, into a wrap!

 

Enjoy!

RawManda's NutFree Fudge Brownies

The original recipe for these amazing little bites can be found on RawManda's site HERE. She has so many creative, delicious and healthy raw recipes... definitely worth checking her out!


I followed her recipe almost identically but I used almond milk instead of water and 8 dates instead of 7. I also realized that if you don't have buckwheat groats you could easily make flour out of oats, although that wouldn't be raw technically. Either way, the recipe from rawmanda;s blog is listed below:

"Ingredients
  • ½ cup buckwheat groats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or bean)
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder (or carob)
  • 7 medjool dates
  • 5-7 tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Line a small container with saran wrap
  2. Blend buckwheat groats in a high-speed blender or food processor until you get a fine consistency like flour.
  3. Add vanilla extract, cacao and dates to the blender
  4. Slowly add water as you blend.
  5. Scoop out mixture and spread evenly in saran-lined pan.
  6. Freeze overnight.
  7. Cut into squares and store in an air-right container in the freezer.
Notes
If you're not using fresh soft dates, soak them for an hour before.
I wet my hands to make it easier to manage the fudge, it's very sticky! You can also wet your hands and roll/shape fudge into balls/squares."



These pictures were taken before letting it sit in the freezer over night. I gave it like 5 hours and couldn't wait any longer. They were fantastic! I enjoyed them with a glass of almond milk.






Cabbage Steak

Cabbage steak and side salad.

Slice cabbage thinly and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes on each side. Added some tahini salt and pepper :)