My Vegan Experiment Day 6 – The Ninja Pro Blender

Hi there:

I have a confession to make.  I'm in love.  It's real this time, I swear (my friends are all rolling their eyes).  With whom, you ask? Well, it's not exactly a who.  It's more like a what.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  I'm talking about being in love with the Ninja Pro* Blender I bought last night on the way home from work.

Do you remember how, a few posts ago, I declared that I didn't like putting hemp seeds in my smoothie because I didn't like crunching my smoothies?  Well, I don't have that problem anymore.  The Ninja Pro* made mincemeat (more like liquid) out of those hemp seeds and the spinach stems and anything else I put into that bad boy today.

I made the most delicious, smooth and creamy smoothie for breakfast this morning made with a frozen banana, spinach, almond milk, hemp seeds, almond butter and vanilla vegan protein powder (I went a little crazy there with the protein sources) with my Ninja Pro. The nifty gadget even makes juice! This afternoon, I made myself the most fantastic juice out of strawberries, grapes, celery and cucumber. You know the Ninja Pro will make the trip with me to NYC, along with my electric kettle, bagged portions of CSY trail mix, almond butter, oatmeal, hemp seeds, protein powder and other survival gear.

For lunch I had a salad made of arugula, cherry tomatoes, English cucumber, green peas, and mixed veggies, topped with the second mushroom burger I'd purchased from Whole Foods.  For dinner, I'm having more of the lemony lentil soup.  Yum.  I'll have to make another pot of that when I get back.

I ran around like a madwoman making preparations for the trip to NYC which included cleaning my kitchen and finding creative ways to store what produce I have left so that it doesn't go bad while I'm away (I can freeze grapes, right?).

The CSY program is not just about diet, although my obsession with vegan food probably led you to believe that.  Kris Carr also wants us to meditate at least three times a week and to move our buns for at least 20 minutes a day 3-5 times a week.  I meditated today and did a 20 minute Qijong workout.  I have to say that, despite the packing and the cleaning and the clothes washing,  I feel energized and relaxed at the same time.  My body just feels good.

I got on the scale today and it said I weighed 3.0 lbs less than the last time I got on it. That can't be right.  I can't be down 8 lbs in a little over a week.  I'm going to get on another scale and weigh myself just to be sure.



*These are Amazon affiliate links.  If you click on it and buy something, I will earn a small commission.  You should know that I only recommend products that I use myself.

My Vegan Experiment Day 5 – Vegan Bowls

Hi there:

Today is Day 5 of my vegan experiment in the Crazy Sexy You program and I'm still not hungry.  I really expected to be hungry, have mad cravings and be grouchy as a result of not eating meat or drinking coffee or having dairy or gluten.  But, strangely enough, that is not the case. Instead, I discovered a whole new way of eating: to wit, vegan bowls.

Vegan bowls can contain as many elements and combinations of vegan fare as you can imagine.  Today, I had an Udon noodle bowl for lunch that contained rice noodles, baby bok choy, cucumber, bell pepper, toasted sesame oil, chopped peanuts, cilantro, sesame seeds, and a “firecracker” dressing.  I'd picked it up last night at a local vegan restaurant. It was quite tasty and kept me full until my late afternoon snack of carrots and hummus.

For dinner, I had a “coconut grain bowl” from the same restaurant for dinner. It contained carrot , chickpeas, cabbage, bell pepper, coconut oil, brown rice, tamari, coconut milk, shiitake bacon, and kefir lime.  It was delicious! Tamari is not gluten free, however.  Next time, I'll bring them my bottle of coconut aminos and ask them to use that instead.

I had wanted to start out my day with more of the almond banana oatmeal I'd ranted about last night, but I discovered, much to my dismay, that I am out of rolled oats. I stopped at Starbucks on the way in to work and got their oatmeal and a vanilla almond Chai tea latte.  I forgot to order the drink skinny (i.e. unsweetened). OMG, it tasted sweet enough to kill people it had so much sugar in it. I don't remember it tasting that way before.  It could be that my tastebuds are getting more sensitive.  I won't make that mistake again.

When I got to work, I stirred a tablespoon of almond butter into the oatmeal and added a packet of stevia and some raisins.  It was good, but not as good as the CSY oatmeal recipe.

My vacation trip to NYC is imminent.  Since I only have tomorrow to pack and prepare, I stopped at Walmart on my way home and picked up an electric kettle (the hotel I'm staying at has a refrigerator but not a microwave or a coffeemaker) and a Ninja Pro blender.  I plan to stock the room refrigerator with fruits, veggies, greens, and almond milk, and use that to make smoothies and green drinks while I'm away.  I also plan to bring some oatmeal packets and almond butter and CSY trail mix with me so I always have healthy snacks and breakfast options.

I've already scoped out some cool vegan restaurants in NYC, two of which are near my hotel, where I can get “legal” food for lunch and dinner.  I plan to drag my Dad and my stepmom to a vegan restaurant in Greenwich Village that specializes in Latin cuisine (she's Mexican and he's Panamanian), and my sister to a Korean vegan joint that I can't wait to try out.  Trust NYC to take Vegan to a whole new level.

Ah well, it's past my bedtime and I have a writers group video conference at 10:00a.m. Stay tuned as I'll be blogging about my NYC food adventures each day over the next week.  They are bound to be interesting. I wonder if I'll have a chance to sample vegan bowls while I'm there.



My Vegan Experiment Day 4 – Almond Banana Oatmeal

Hi there:

So, it's day 4 of following Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy You program and my seventh day of not having coffee. I'm happy to report that I haven't killed or snapped at anyone yet. In fact, I haven't been hungry and I don't even really miss meat all that much.  I miss how easy it is to throw together a lunch with a meat protein at the forefront, but I don't really miss meat per se.

I started out the day with CSY's recipe for almond banana oatmeal made with almond butter, almond milk, banana and cinnamon.  OMG, it was so good that I'm going to want to eat that for breakfast 7 days a week. Who knew?

The one thing that's already getting old is all the meal prep required on this program.  I'm going to have to prep more on the weekends to make this work and make a list of places I can grab ready made to go vegan meals I like.

This morning, I was a meal prep machine.  I dumped the ingredients for the almond banana oatmeal into one pot and warmed the lentil soup in another while I measured out trail mix, hummus, baby carrots and gluten free crackers and placed them in containers and baggies.  I did my hair then poured the hot soup into one thermos for lunch, poured the oatmeal into another, and packed them, my snacks and a tablespoon into my lunch bag. I ate the oatmeal at stoplights while driving to work and had the soup and crackers for lunch.

Unable to face cooking tonight, I stopped by a vegan restaurant and ordered a vegan burger on gluten free bread and two vegan bowls.  I'll take one of the vegan bowls to lunch with me tomorrow and have the other bowl for dinner.

Even though I had green tea instead of coffee, I felt more alert today than I've felt in a long time.  It's like someone turned on a switch inside me and the fog lifted away.

I got on the scale this morning and I was four pounds down.  I suspect it's all water weight since I finally picked up my diuretic medication from the doctor yesterday. One of my coworkers mentioned that I looked like I was losing weight in my face – in particular under my chin.  I looked in the mirror and I see what she means.  It could be my hairstyle, but I think do look a bit younger or something.  It's only been four days.  We're probably imagining things.

Overall, it was a good day, although I cheated with a gluten free coconut chocolate chip cookie.  I did, however, resist the temptation to eat the pizza served at the board meeting I attended today. Baby steps.

Let's see what tomorrow brings. I'm pretty sure it will bring more of that almond banana oatmeal.



My Vegan Experiment Day 3 – The Quinoa Chronicles

Hi there:

I just realized tonight that I didn't blog last night about day 3 of my vegan experiment which I refer to as the quinoa chronicles. I guess that's because I was so tired when I got home.  I was also a bit frazzled because I ended up having my weekly coaching session with my coach in my car.  I left work late and I didn't dare miss another session so I ended up dialing her digits while driving home from work.

The reason I call yesterday the quinoa chronicles is because I've now categorically decided that I don't really like quinoa – at least not in a salad.  I don't like the texture. It's always a bit dry and crunchy and tasteless to me.  Maybe I just haven't had it prepared correctly. I do like it when I make fried quinoa and kale cakes out of the frozen quinoa and kale packets I buy from Costco. In the past, I've used an egg to bind the cake.  I'll have to find another way now.  But I digress.

The day started out with a smoothie.  Instead of using hemp seeds, I substituted some Legion Thrive Vegan Protein Milk Chocolate Flavor* instead and some PB2 Powder since I was not in the mood to crunch my smoothie.  I had to use a fresh (as opposed to frozen) banana since my freezer door apparently was not closed all the way and the bananas had defrosted. I did, however, find some still frozen raspberries which I threw into the blender along with a packed cup of spinach.  The smoothie turned out quite tasty despite the fact that the protein powder and the PB2* clumped instead of being distributed evenly.  It was still good when I had the second half yesterday afternoon.

For lunch, I had the salad I'd ordered from a vegan restaurant the night before.  It was hardcore with kale, parsley, sunflower seeds, blueberries, quinoa, tomatoes, quartered beets and an oily vinaigrette.  I won't be ordering that again.  I didn't love the quinoa, the large beet chunks, or the oily dressing.  I did enjoy the rest of the veggies and the mushroom burger I'd thrown on top which I'd purchased from Whole Foods.  Unfortunately, they used regular breadcrumbs to bind the burger so it wasn't gluten-free.

For dinner, I had the leftover cashew cream gluten-free pasta and I was a happy child. I was also full and climbed into bed earlier than usual.  Instead of sleeping though, I listened to a Periscope presentation on marketing for coaches.

All in all, it was a good day and I kept it vegan, if not gluten-free. I cheated only a little bit by having four squares of Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate* for dessert. Since it's 70% dark chocolate and chock full of antioxidants, it's practically a health food anyway.



*These are Amazon affiliate links.  If you click on them and buy something, I will get a small commission.  You should know that I only recommend products and services that I myself use.

My Vegan Experiment Day 2 – Avocado Toast

Hi there:

Today was day 2 of my vegan experiment on the Crazy Sexy You program.  The day was supposed to start off with lemon water, green tea, green juice and avocado toast. It was also supposed to end with me hanging out with my best friend and others at her home on South Beach; however, life rarely works out according to plan.

I woke up this morning with a terrible headache and incredible nausea.  I managed to prepare lemon water, but couldn't keep it or anything else down for much of the day. Needless to say, I did not head to South Beach this evening, nor did I enjoy more of the creamy cashew pasta from last night.

On a hunch, I checked my blood pressure this morning and discovered that it was quite high.  I took my medication, but couldn't keep it down either. Luckily, I started to feel better this afternoon and, by 3:00p.m., I was able to keep some Yogi lemon ginger tea* down.

Afraid to have the pasta, I made a pot of lentil soup that is also a part of the Crazy Sexy You recipes.  It came out really well.  More importantly, it stayed down.

Feeling a bit sorry for myself I ordered in for dinner, but kept it vegan.  Specifically, I had hummus, guacamole and chips.  I also ordered a salad that was heavy on the beets, but decided to brave that for lunch or dinner tomorrow instead.

Although the day was not ideal, I'm glad that I didn't go completely off the reservation in terms of food.  It's also probably a hidden blessing that I stayed in tonight for I surely would have been tempted to imbibe cocktails and non-vegan fare (my bestie makes a mean cocktail and is a great cook).

Anyway, I'm not a big avocado lover (I think I ate too many of them as a child), so I wasn't really looking forward to the avocado toast.  The guacamole was very tasty though.

Let's hope that I don't wake up feeling like I did this morning.  If I do, I'm heading straight to the doctor before work.  Let's see what tomorrow has to bring in this crazy adventure.



*This is an affiliate link for the Yogi lemon ginger tea at Thrive Market.  If you click on it and shop at Thrive Market, I will earn a commission if you decide to stay with them after the 30 day free trial and you'll get 25% off your first order. You should know that I only recommend products, services and sites that I use myself.

Day 1 Vegan Experiment – Pink Cashew Cream Pasta

Hi there:

Day 1 of my Vegan Experiment came to an end with salmon pink cashew cream pasta which looked a bit radioactive, but tasted delicious.  Let me start from the beginning.

I was late to work and a little frazzled with all the food preparation that is part of Chris Karr's Crazy Sexy You Program, but I was not hungry.  That could be because I binged last night on Chinese food as if it were my last night on Earth and I would never get to eat steamed pork dumplings, pork fried rice, shrimp and broccoli, or egg rolls ever again. In life.  Or maybe it's because the program allows us to eat a good amount of food on a daily basis, including a hearty and very satisfying meal of cashew cream pasta for dinner.

I started out the day with lemon water and green tea followed by a smoothie made of a frozen banana, frozen blueberries, almond milk, spinach and hemp seeds.  The recipe made two servings, so I had one for breakfast and the other as an afternoon snack. I cheated a little and added a teaspoon of honey and a little vanilla extract to sweeten the brew.  It tasted good, but I didn't like the crunchiness of the hemp seeds. I like a creamy smoothie, not to chew on them.

I had 1/3 cup of trail mix as a midmorning snack. That held me until lunchtime when I enjoyed a hearty portion of potato, bean and kale stew I had packed into a thermos.

Being a big girl with a hearty appetite, I didn't trust that the afternoon smoothie would keep me from peeling off the road into the next McDonald's drive through on the way home, so I packed carrots and hummus to munch on instead.  I ate the carrots around 3:00 p.m., then drank the smoothie at 4:00 p.m.  That was a bit much. The overload of fiber made me feel way too full and sent my tummy into a tizzy. I won't be doing that again.

I was so full that I didn't start cooking dinner until after 7:00p.m.  Luckily, I know my way around a kitchen, but, like most lawyers and engineers I know, I don't follow directions very well.  I messed up the cashew cream pasta recipe by forgetting to add the cashews I'd been soaking since 3:30p.m. to the blender when I made the sauce. The rice pasta penne still tasted delicious with just the blended tomatoes, nutritional yeast, seasonings, and almond milk.  I was about halfway through chowing down when I remembered the cashews.  I jumped up, ran into the kitchen, took the second half of the can of diced tomatoes and blended that with the soaked cashews in my Nutri Ninja Pro * The result? A thick salmon pink tomato cashew cream that clung to the sides of the blender cup like a lover.

I scraped it off the sides, slid it into the pasta pot, mixed it in good, and gave it a taste. That pasta was so good I let out a moan like I used to when my ex . . . but I digress. Let's just say it was really good and I can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. I never thought I would say that about a vegan dinner.

I'm so satisfied I didn't even make the chocolate sauce to go with my strawberries for dessert.  Well, that and the fact that I had already scarfed down 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate when I got home.

We're allowed to have 1.0 ounce of a dark chocolate bar on Sunday.  I saw the bar in the refrigerator and got a little happy with it.  I couldn't help myself.  It was a Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar. I just meant to have a little taste but kept going back for more.  Needless to say, I won't be buying that again in the next three weeks.  It's not even “legal” on the Crazy Sexy You program since it's only 55% dark chocolate (it needs to be 70% dark).

So now it's bedtime and I managed to get through Day 1 without gnawing off my arm, cheating too much, or snapping at anyone.  Let's hope the remaining days go this well.



My 21 Day Vegan Experiment: Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy You Program

Hi there:

Since you haven't heard from me in a while, I decided to jumpstart my return with a bang.  I decided to do something that will sound crazy – especially to anyone who knows how much I love a smothered porkchop, fried chicken, cheese and shrimp prepared any way there is . . . but I digress.  I made the decision to try Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy You program and go not only vegan, but also dairy free, coffee free, and gluten free for the next 21 days.  Yeah, you read that right: meat free, dairy free, coffee free and gluten free for the next 21 days.

No, I haven't lost my mind or joined a cult, nor did aliens abduct and impersonate me. I made the decision to join Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy You program because I am the heaviest I've ever been and I would love to get off blood pressure medication for good.

The program, which involves a fully planned vegan 21 day meal plan (complete with snacks and desserts), an exercise program (3-5 days per week), and a daily meditation regimen, is designed to promote not only weight loss, but an overall health reboot. There's even a private Facebook group where members of the program get daily tips and support from Kris Carr and her team,  a weekly group coaching call with Kris Carr, and weekly office hours with her chef and the nutritionists, who also pop into the Facebook group all week to answer questions.

Even though they don't call the program a cleanse, apparently some people who are detoxing from junk food, caffeine and other goodies may experience both the positive results and the temporary symptoms typically brought on by a cleanse.

Kris Carr and her team do a great job of helping the members prepare for the program by offering shopping guides, cooking guides, food storage and prep tips, and restaurant and business trip survival guides.  The survival guides were very helpful as I will be away for a week attending a writers conference during the program and won't be able to prepare meals in accordance with the program.  I've already scoped out all the vegan restaurants and juice/smoothie spots near my hotel.  I also figured out that I could order vegetarian Chinese food.

Before perusing the guides, I knew very little about how to eat vegan and meet my nutritional needs. Being a comfort food mama, I was very happy to discover that some of my favorite items were “legal” on the program like lentil soup, almond milk, dark chocolate, green tea, vegetarian chili, brown rice, stir fry veggies, gluten free noodles  and smoothies to name a few.  In fact, the recipe book contained a number of soups and stews we can have.

I'm not going to lie though, going without any meat at all, even fish and hard boiled eggs , will be a challenge over the next 21 days.  Not having any coffee will also be a challenge.  Some of my coworkers plan to give me a wide berth over the next three weeks because they figure that I'll be positively evil until I adjust.  That's pretty hilarious considering how much I love to laugh and how friendly I normally am.

I'm going to keep you posted on this journey by blogging every night for the next 21 days.  My plan is to drop a few pounds, jump start my health and develop healthy eating, exercise and meditation habits.  Let's see how it goes.



LJ’s Breakfast Tips

LJ's Breakfast

Hi there:

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I believe that's true and that's why I put together these breakfast tips. On those days when I eat a healthy breakfast I tend to be on the right track for the rest of the day. If I leave the house, however, without having eaten breakfast, and grab a quick bagel or doughnut on the way in to work, I know I'm in for a terrible eating day. It just sets the day off on the wrong tone.

To make sure I'm able to make breakfast fairly quickly on weekday mornings, I like to do some things on the weekends to prepare. Some of those things include:

  1. Making a tray of LJ's Crispy Oven Roasted Potatoes.  This recipe is so versatile. You can add the crispy potatoes to LJ's Breakfast Skillet or eat them as a side at dinnertime.
  2. Making a tray of oven cooked bacon. Having already cooked center cut bacon is useful for crumbling over salads or as part of a quick breakfast on work day mornings. Center cut bacon is lighter in WW points than others. Turkey bacon is even lighter in WW points.  You could, for example, have three slices of center cut bacon, a side of the potatoes and eggs, or you could make yourself a breakfast sandwich with eggs, bacon and a low-fat English Muffin.
  3. Make extra servings of high-fiber low-fat pancakes and refrigerate them.  I can grab a paper plate and put a serving of the pancakes and a serving of the bacon in the microwave for a quick weekday morning breakfast. I can top it with a cup of frozen blueberries and a tablespoon of maple syrup (microwaved together until warm and ready to pour) and get in two of my fruit servings before I even leave the house. You can stock frozen whole grain waffles instead of the pancakes.
  4. Making a pot of oatmeal.  Steel-cut oats take longer to cook. If I make a pot on the weekend, then I can scoop out a serving in the morning, put it in a bowl, splash a little unsweetened almond or skim milk, and heat it up in the microwave.  I can then add fruit, nuts, and/or sweetener, and pair it with a hard-boiled egg or other protein source for a quick and hearty breakfast.
  5. Making LJ's Salmon Cakes. Each salmon cake contains m ore than 20 ounces of protein. I wrap mine in foil and keep them in the refrigerator.  On weekday mornings, I can grab one and pair it with a serving of the potatoes or a light English Muffin or sauteed veggies and have a well-rounded, protein-packed breakfast in minutes.

You get the idea. A little preparation goes a long way toward putting your weekday menu planning and meal preparation on autopilot. That, in turn, makes sticking with your healthy eating goals a lot easier.

I hope you found these breakfast tips to be helpful.


How to Combat Healthy Eating Boredom


A friend and I were just discussing today one of the main reasons why people tend to fall off the healthy eating wagon: boredom. “If I have to eat a salad one more time, I’d rather not eat,” she said.  I know exactly how she feels.  Ironically, I brought a salad for lunch today too. I enjoyed it though.

A lot of times when we’re dieting or trying to change our eating patterns, we fall into a rut.  We go with the tried and true and forget that we need to be happy too. For those of you who know exactly what I mean, I have good news for you: healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring or repetitive or joyless.  In fact, it shouldn’t be.  

You don’t have to have salad for lunch five days a week to lose weight or maintain your figure and you certainly don’t have to eat the same old salad everyday.  You should however, eat lots of veggies (see my post on easy ways to get 7 vegetable servings a day) and supplement that with whole grains, legumes and lean sources of protein.

When you look at it from a nutritional perspective, you realize that the lunch possibilities are endless. You could, for example, have one of a myriad of healthy recipes for lunch and either add a cup of cooked veggies on the side (i.e. a WeightWatchers recipe for Turkey Chili with a side of broccoli), or incorporate the veggies into the meal (i.e. a veggie stir fry with 4-5 ounces of shrimp or beef or chicken). You could have a wrap with low fat deli meat, a healthy condiment or spread, and lots of veggies like spinach and tomatoes.  You could have a bowl of vegetable or lentil or black bean soup and add some organic Cajun spiced turkey sausage. You could even have a radically different salad every day of the week. Are you hungry yet? Stay tuned for some new posts, recipes and meal ideas designed to beat back boredom.



Today’s Cherry Vanilla Smoothie

Hi there:

Ever since I got started with the Red Smoothie Diet Factor* (affiliate link), I've been having a smoothie for breakfast in the morning and experimenting with smoothie recipes.  Today's concoction is a riff on the Cherry Champion – one of the smoothies contained in Dr. Liz Swann Miller's 14 day smoothie detox program.*  I call it my Cherry Vanilla Smoothie.

Here is the recipe for two servings:

Three cups organic frozen cherries, 1.5 cups vanilla unsweetened almond milk, 1 banana (mine was frozen), two handfuls greens (kale, swiss chard, and/or spinach), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, three scoops (1.5 servings) vanilla protein powder (optional), 1 tbsp. Chia seeds, 1 tsp. spirulina (optional), 1 tsp. wheatgrass (optional), 1 tbsp. maca powder (optional),

This is one of my favorite go to smoothie recipes.  In fact, I'm enjoying the heck out of it right now as I write this.

I bought my Chia seeds from Costco.  It came in a big bag that has lasted me for months.  I bought my spirulina and wheatgrass powder from a local farmer's market. I'm running out though and will pick up more from Amazon here.  I bought my maca powder from Amazon as well.  You can get it here.

I'll write a review of the Red Smoothie Detox Factor* soon.  As a preview, I'll just tell you that I lost 6lbs. in the first week on the program while only following it halfway and cheating twice.

In the meantime, try my Cherry Vanilla Smoothie out and let me know what you think.



*The links contained in this blog post are affiliate links.  If you click on them and buy something, I will receive compensation.  However, you should know that I only  promote products that I believe in and most likely use or own myself.