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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 :)

Today's Eats

These eats are from last Sunday, which was lazy and rainy and full of errands. I started the morning with two and a half of these perfectly spotted bananas. The rest were peeled, chopped and put right into the freezer for nicecream!



Later on I had a snack of 1/4 mashed avocado on a rice cake.

 

For lunch I had leftover quinoa with zucchini and green onion and a huge oil free tahini garlic kale salad from Whole Foods with pesto tofu, brussel sprouts (special treat!).

 
For dinner I spiralized two zucchini and mixed in my favorite homemade cheeze sauce.


For dessert I had a few pieces of RawManda's amazing nut free fudge brownie bites. Fat free, vegan... seriously sinful but not sinful at all! Recipe can be found HERE.



Veggies Only Shepherd's Pie

 You Will Need:
  • Veggies! I used:
-4 small green bell peppers
-1 large flower zucchini
-1 large heirloom tomato
-6 basil leaves
-4-5 small eggplants
-1 large white onion
  • 1 large sweet potato (I used a huge white (Japanese) yam)
  • Himalaya Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
 To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Rinse off the sweet potato, poke holes in it with a fork and either microwave for 10 minutes (until soft) OR boil for about 40 minutes
  3. Chop all the rest of the veggies and steam on low heat for about 15 minutes (I steamed in a huge skillet with about 1/2 cup veggie broth in it- I started with the eggplant which takes longer to cook and only steamed the other veggies for about 7-10 minutes).
  4. Drain liquid from skillet (save! It's a very nutritious and delicious soup!).
  5. Add steamed veggies to a large dish. 
  6. Once the potato is steamed fully, mash until smooth. Add almond milk and sea salt as needed. 
  7. Spread a layer of the sweet potato over the veggies until fully covered. 
  8. Bake at 375F for about 40 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!!







Grocery List

 

A few people have asked about my weekly groceries. I wish I had a list that I use year round, but it usually changes every few months depending on what's in season, what I'm craving and how my budget is doing. I've been using the list below for the past month or so. All of the recipes you've seen lately have come from it. I love being creative and finding food combos that make amazing meals- when you least expect it! When the only things left in the fridge are cauliflower, one zucchini, garlic and a few drops of almond milk... most people are one foot out the door to the grocery store. I'm reaching for the nutritional yeast and making mac and cheese!!
This week I'm adding dates to the list. Last week I added celery and stewed tomatoes. It changes here and there but if you stick with this base there's not too much to add.

This list is perfect for a low fat, vegan, gluten free diet on a budget. This provides me with 3 big meals a day and 3-4 snacks  for 6 days :) ~$70

Kitchen Staples (I usually restock 1x per month at most):
  • Flax
  • Cacao powder
  • Broth
  • Brazil nuts
  • Rice/quinoa
  • Bag potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Ginger dressing
  • Taco seasoning
  • Raisins
  • Spices (pumpkin, curry, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cumin, nutritional yeast, red pepper, nutmeg,cracked pepper)
  • Oats 
  • Tea
  • Lemons
Weekly Grocery List:
  • Water
  • Almond milk
  • Rice cakes
  • 6 apples
  • 5 cucumbers
  • 6 red peppers
  • 1 pineapple
  • Boxed greens (romaine)
  • Dandelion greens
  • Frozen Spinach
  • Beans or Tofu
  • 5-6 zucchini
  • Hummus
  • Green onions
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 avocado
  • Bananas 8-10
  • Cauliflower (usually every other week)
  • Carrots
  • Frozen Berries


 via



Some sample recipes I can make with the above list:

Chilli Cheese Fries
Loaded sweet potato (with southwestern beans, avocado, green onions and tofu sour cream)
Nice Cream
Chocolate nice cream
Bananavaocado Chocolate Pudding
Big Salad with Hummus Dressing
Veggie Stir Fry
Rice and beans
Rice and beans and veggies
Beans and Veggies
Sweet potato hash
Veggies Dipped in Hummus
Mashed Tofu with dipping veggies
Mashed beans with dipping veggies
Sweet potato with avo spread
Green juice (so many options!)
Detox green juice (previous post)
Curried Beans with raisins – with dipping veggies or in romaine boats
Curried mashed tofu with raisins - with dipping veggies or in romaine boats
Rice cakes with hummus
Rice cakes with mashed banana (choco?)
Rice cakes with avocado
Oats and berries
Veggie Soup
Bean Soup
Creamy Sweet potato soup
Sweet potato and apple soup
Tofu sour cream based creamy spinach
Flax crackers
Banana cookies
Chocolate banana cookies
Creamy Tea
Zoodles with Cheese Sauce
Cheese fries
Cheese veggies
Tofu soup
Homemade sushi
Pumpkin pie banana cookies
Pumpkin pie nice cream
Tofu or bean chili (will need canned tomatoes too)
Sweet potato pizzas
Oat flour crust pizzas with cheese sauce and veggies (red sauce optional)
Mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes with romaine dippers
Mashed cauliflower fauxtatos
Romaine tacos with taco seasoned beans and veggie fillings (and tofu sour cream and avocado).

Today's Eats (Breakfast and Lunch)


 Ants in a pasture? Not sure what to call this funny looking mix of mashed avocado on brown rice cakes topped with sea salt, pepper and raisins :)

 Of course...the daily green juice. Recipe posted yesterday.
Chopped salad! Romaine, red pepper, zucchini, rice cake crunchies, raisins, green onions and a huge dollop of hummus as dressing. Mix well!

For dinner I went out with friends for wine and tapas :) 



Daily Detoxing Green Juice



This juice has been my favorite these days. It's actually more of a smoothie but the ingredients blend so well together that it takes on the consistency of juice :)
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 1 tbs flax meal, ground
  • 1-2 handfuls dandelion greens 
  • 1/2 large cucumber, minced to blend better
  • 4-6 cups water 

Blend for about a minute until no pieces or greens are floating around. Refreshing and cleansing!!

Weekend Eats

Saturday started out with some Ants in A Pasture:

...followed by a quick run to a local coffee shop where I met my guy.



This place makes their bread from scratch, organic ingredients and it's amazing. We got the veggie sammies on sourdough and had some coffee. I almost never drink coffee but we had a long night ahead of us so I knew I didn't have to worry about not being able to sleep. 


  It was so nice to just hang out and take in the weather and people watch. 


An hour or two later I used a guest pass and dropped into his martial arts class where I proceeded to get my butt kicked. It's Tuesday and I'm still sore.
 We ran some errands, came home, and I whipped up a chopped salad (romaine, red pepper, zucchini, cucumber, green onion and hummus as dressing). 


We went to a wedding that night and ate and drank everything horrible for us. It was tons of fun though!