5 Ways to lighten the load without losing out

Hey Friends! After the last post, I had a few conversations with people who were trying to eat better, but struggling to move away from “comfort” foods- especially in the winter when the body craves warm, gooey, luscious things. I get it. In the winter all I want are biscuits, mac and cheese, naan, steamy jeera rice, and mashed potatoes. But I’m no longer 20, so if I ate like that everyday it would be pretty problematic (mainly because I refuse to buy a new wardrobe to accommodate the generous increase that would ensue). However, there are ways to lighten the load, without losing out on flavour & satisfaction.

Here are 5 easy and delicious ways:

  1. Portobello Pizzas: Swap out the heavy (but delicious) dough for some chewy mushrooms, top as you like and voila! An easy weeknight meal that has hundreds of options.
  2. Spaghetti squash with your favourite sauce: We like to top this with vegan “meatballs” or a simple lentil Bolognese.
  3. PB&J on an apple: Looking for a way to get some fruit into your daily mix? Swap out the bread for an apple and enjoy the [natural] sugar rush.
  4. Zucchini (Courgette) Lasagna noodles: So easy to build your own favorite lasagna, but without the guilt-inducing noodles. I usually slice my zucchini ¼ inch, salt them, and bake them in an oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, before proceeding with any standard recipe. (This helps to remove some of the moisture in the zucchini, otherwise you end up with a lasagna pool.) Once you’ve done this, just use the zucchini noodles as you would lasagna noodles, piling on your favourite toppings and baking until bubbly. cauliflower rice salad for breakfast food blog
  5. Cauliflower rice: A must for anyone trying to incorporate more veggies into their diet. We always have bags of this in the freezer, ready to accompany our curry.

Vegetables for weight loss

extra-fries-14316107418kg4n

Have you ever tried to lose weight? I mean really tried? I’m in my 30s and this is the first time in my life that I’m truly making a conscious and physical effort to shed some pounds- and it’s hard as heck! In my previous post I talked about slowing down and taking care of myself. A large part of ‘keeping it light’ in 2016 is taking care of the physical body: eating more vegetables, being more active and reinvigorating my yoga practice. Ultimately with the intention to physically ‘keep it light.’

Luckily, time is on my side. Often I speak to people who are trying to lose weight in order to fit into an outfit, go on vacation, or be ready for summer. All of those external time constraints might be a motivating factor for some people, but for me they’re a hindrance. I prefer to wholeheartedly incorporate some changes into my lifestyle, slowly adding ones that feel good and subtracting ones that don’t work.

vegetables saladforbreakfast mamaearthorganic
Some of the bounty from my weekly vegetable delivery.

One effective way to lighten the load is to incorporate more vegetables into the daily mix. Now some of you might be saying “Hey Shilpa, you have a blog called ‘Salad for Breakfast.’ Don’t you eat enough vegetables as it is?” To which I would say “My friend, you can never eat enough vegetables…” Okay scratch that. I would actually probably just say “No!”

So, more vegetables it is! In particular, for weight loss, I use the following as a rule of thumb when choosing vegetables for my plate: either leafys (not really a word so don’t google it), greens, or water-filled. Here are examples of some of these varieties:

  • Leafys (the bunches or layers of leafy-like vegetables): Spinach, Chard, Kale, Cabbage (green or red), beetroot greens, bok choy (or other Asian greens), lettuce
  • Greens (this one is self explanatory): Broccoli, edamame, avocado, peas (blah okay I don’t really ever choose peas), pea snaps (I like these)
  • Water-filled (these are the ones that will keep you hydrated and/or shed lots of water when cooked): Peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, cucumbers, garlic, onions, celery, tomatoes (are they a fruit? Are they a vegetable?)

So basically, the things that haven’t made it on the list are the vegetables that are high in starch and/or sugar (carrots, beets, potatoes, squashes etc.) That doesn’t mean that I don’t eat these vegetables- I sure do! I’m just more mindful of the portions, don’t eat them daily and try not to eat them all in one meal. Again, this is my own rule of thumb for weight loss. I’m not a nutritionist so this might all sound like mumbo jumbo to you! And that’s okay 🙂

This system is particularly hard to follow in the winter, when most of the seasonal produce in Toronto is made up of starches and root vegetables. So it’s been a fun learning process and I’ve had to figure out ways to balance my need for locally grown food, with my need for leafys, greens and water-filled vegetables.

What about you? What rules do you follow for weight loss? I’d love to hear what works for you. In the next post I’ll share some tips on how I’ve been using the vegetables.

Until then, keep it light!

 

Ending Global Food Waste in our lifetime

Has anyone ever told you that world hunger is an inevitability? That at the rate of population growth we are experiencing “it’s just not possible to feed all the people in the world.”

I remember sitting in a class during undergrad and being told that there are places in the world where people actually burn fresh produce because they cannot sell it- BURN! I remember thinking that this was an absurdity and clearly false.

But slowly my mind began to race… When the goal of farming is to earn a living (and if possible, yield profit), as opposed to say, providing nourishment, compensation dictates what happens to the food. So, if farmers aren’t adequately compensated for their product, what would motivate them to just give it away so that mouths can be fed?

I could explore and ask questions all day long, but today is more about action.

Friends, today I’m appealing to your inner-Marley and asking you to get up stand up.

Sign this petition, calling on world leaders to create plans to eliminate food waste.

If you believe that:

  • all people deserve access to fresh, affordable produce
  • it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure food justice
  • as a race, humans are capable of creating solutions to world hunger
  • there is something fundamentally wrong with getting rid of/burning tons of fresh produce

then, please sign the Avaaz.org petition.


Are you interested in trawling some literature on the topic of food waste? Check out some of these and see where they take you:

EU Supermarkets blamed for Kenya food waste, Al Jazeera

5 Strategies to eliminate food waste, Time

France to force supermarkets to give unsold food to charity, The Guardian

One third of the food that is grown every year is wasted- yet we have tens of millions of people going to bed hungry every night. We can help put an end to this.

It’s finally here! Eating locally in Toronto

photo 2

One of the promises I made to myself in my student years, was that, when I was earning a fair wage, I would do my best to buy local fresh food. 

Localised eating makes sense on so many different levels. Personally, it’s less about offsetting carbon emissions, and more about supporting local farmers. A commitment to eating local, on most occasions, is inherently a commitment to eating food that is in season. Plump pumpkins in October, vibrant vines of tomatoes in August, rustic roots in the winter…mmmm. These are commitments that I’m pretty comfortable making.

The quote about strawberries really makes me smile; I never understood the need to eat berries 52 weeks out of the year. Sure I love a sprinkling of strawberries on my salad in February as much as the next trendsetter, but I’m also willing to forgo fad for reason.

But I digress…

After researching, much rationalizing, and tip-toeing around the idea for far too long, I finally joined a local organic food delivery program. In Toronto, we’re spoiled for choice on companies that offer this service. In the end, I just chose the one whose van I often saw outside my condo building: Mama Earth Organics.

I received my first organic local food delivery last night. This is what I had waiting outside my condo door, after, what seemed to be the longest work week ever:

photo 1

I know what you’re thinking, and let me just answer it for you- YES! This is the bin they delivered the produce in. This is the bin that kept my vegetables safe outside my door. This is the bin they will collect at next week’s delivery, clean, and use again and again for future deliveries!

I chose the ‘local’ option, which means all of the produce in my box is grown in Ontario. At first, it seems mildly pricier than going out and buying my own produce. But there is something empowering about this box; For one, it allows me to plan & prep my meals out ahead of time, which will * hopefully * decrease how much I eat out. So, in theory, it may prove to be quite pocket friendly. What’s more, I know I have to use everything that’s in it, and that gets the creative juices flowing!

Sure, I absolutely love love love grocery shopping. But, as the days get colder and the work hours get longer, this delivery service is a welcome relief. But, it’s only day 2, so let’s see how I feel after a few deliveries…

What are your feelings on the “eat local” and/or “eat seasonal” movement? Maybe a glimpse into this box, will change your mind:

photo 3

 

 

Confessions ‘n a cold

Fact: I don’t regularly include vegetables in my breakfast. In fact, part of the motivation to start this project was to do just that. So, this blog serves as a great platform for me to manifest my thoughts into action, and also allows me to share this journey with you.

I haven’t yet fully addressed the “but why vegetables for breakfast?” thoughts that you may be having. I hope that as I continue to blog, this question will be answered. But if you prefer an 11,108-word manifesto on the subject, I can do that too. Just as soon as I’m done opening up my salad for breakfast café.

But I digress…

This morning I woke up realizing that this cold that I’d been nursing for the past week, was not going to quit. And when I woke up, the last thing I wanted was a “salad” for breakfast. Although, it wouldn’t be completely foreign to me. The truth is that my sweet tooth has transitioned to a savoury one over the past few years. In the morning, in particular, I crave something nourishing, salty and hearty.

One of the easiest ways to incorporate more vegetables into our diet, is to throw ‘em in a pot, let them gently stew (on their own or with other ingredients we desire), and ladle steaming heaps into big round bowls. A lot of people think that you lose tons of nutrients from overly cooking vegetables, particularly in soups. But actually as long as you:

  1. don’t boil the life out of your vegetables,
  2. cook them just until the veggies are tender,
  3. consume the water/broth that you’ve cooked the vegetables in (that’s where tons of the nutrients go),

then chances are you will have a very nutrient-rich meal. Not only that, but by gently cooking the vegetables, you’ve probably made them easier to digest and gentler on your system. An added bonus! So… soup for breakfast anyone? I’ll leave you with this picture for now, but with a promise for a full report & a recipe tomorrow 🙂 photo (2)

Salad for Breakfast?

There’s a very intentional question mark at the end of that title.

We sometimes have unconscious rigidity when it comes to our own food habits: rules that guide what we eat and when. Cereal in the morning, SSS (soup, salad, sandwich) at lunch, and some combination of the previous two meals at dinner. Often these habits are influenced by what we see in the media, what we’ve grown up with, what we’ve read about in a magazine.

What are some of your own food “rules”?

This blog is very much about thinking outside of the box when it comes to vegetables and general eating habits. I’m going to make an assumption that for most people, vegetables are very much a sideshow; an obligatory accompaniment. I’m not sure why that is (though I can make some pretty educated guesses), especially for the value that they bring to the table.

I’ll say from the outset that I’m no authority on the subject matter. I don’t have any academic background in nutrition and health. I only have my fervent interest in the subject, and my own life experience.

But it’s my hope that this is a space where you can reimagine the way you think about vegetables. I hope we can learn & share together. And who knows, there may be a paradigm shift which causes you to eat more vegetables, or try something you’ve never tried before, or (gulp) have a salad for breakfast.

Who knows?!