Vegetables for weight loss

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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!

 

Cauliflower “Rice” is Nice

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast

…Yeah! I totally did!

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast

Behold! The curvaceous cruciferous we refer to as cauliflower. I’m hoping this gorgeous specimen will distract you from my mild digital absence.

I’ve missed you all! The past few months there have been some changes so I haven’t had a chance to blog as frequently. But as things begin to calm down, I’m aching to share some treats that I’ve been working on.

Cauliflower is all the rage at the moment, and rightly so. It’s deliciously versatile, be it mashed, grilled, baked, steak-ed out, or ‘riced’. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely eaten more than my fair share of comfort foods the past few months year. And my body is telling me that it’s time to come back into line.

Lucky for me the end of winter is also an encouraging time to break away from this trance and get into gear. As I fill my plate these days I’m looking for fun ways to increase my vegetable intake and decrease my reliance on carbs. So you can imagine the thrill I felt when I saw a picture of cauliflower “rice”. It’s easy and yummy.

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast food blog

You take a whole head of cauliflower, chop it into florets, and throw the florets into a food processor.

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast food blog

Pulse until they look like ‘rice’ and no large bits remain. If you’re ricing the whole cauliflower, you’ll need to do this in a few batches so the cauliflower has space to dance around and chop. From here you can either heat and eat (my preferred method of consumption), freeze, or serve it straight up. Enjoy!

cauliflower rice salad for breakfast

Some helpful notes:

  • With my large head of cauliflower, I got about 7 cups of rice.
  • When all the cauliflower was riced, I measured out 2 cups for dinner that night, and froze the rest (for future meals).
  • Though you could eat this rice raw, I prefer to cook it beforehand. I think this helps with digestion, and just tastes better. So I sautéed the cauliflower in a hot pan on medium heat for 3-5 minutes, and served it with some homemade seitan curry. 
  • This doesn’t taste like rice but it’s damn good.
  • It’s possible to grate the cauliflower if you don’t have a food processor. But you might just end up exhausted and hating vegetables by the end of it.

Oh My! Squash Brownies

vegan gluten free squash brownie salad for breakfast

Friends, for the very first time, I created my own brownie recipe from scratch. This was a real project for me. I spent a few days looking at various recipes for squash brownies, drooling over pictures. I then did some research on the ‘perfect brownie’, focusing on bloggers who wrote about the ideal ratio of wet to dry ingredients.

Baking, after all, is a science my friends, and requires the true attention of a nerd scholar.

Well after some good reading, and a stubborn stance to only use ingredients I had in house, I decided to test out my recipe.

The results? Gooey, decadent, chocolaty brownies- sans gluten, dairy & eggs.

vegan gluten free squash brownie salad for breakfast

They tasted even better the next day, and my brownie loving husband declared these to be a winner. Yay! Gold Star stickers all around ya’ll!

Notes:

  • Brownies are especially good with dairy and eggs, and I can honestly say that it’s pretty tough to find/make a good vegan brownie. But these were just right.
  • My choice to use gluten free flour was purely based on the fact that I didn’t have any more whole wheat pastry flour (my go-to baking flour). If you go with pastry flour, you may not need the extra spoon of water.
  • As soon as these came out of the oven I dumped some vegan chocolate chips on top and covered with foil. After 5 minutes I uncovered and smoothed out the melted chocolate. Feel free to use any frosting of choice, or leave it out completely.
  • If using eggs, don’t use the flax seed mixture or extra water. (But I can’t guarantee results)
  • I had acorn squash already roasted and in the fridge, but any roasted squash will do.

vegan squash brownies salad for breakfast

Squash Brownies

What I’m Listening to

 

Ingredients

1/2 c roasted squash
1 t vanilla extract
3 T melted coconut oil
2 T flax meal mixed with 5 T water

3/4 c gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
1/2 c Dutch processed cocoa powder (not hot cocoa mixture!)
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 c sugar

1 T water (only if the mixture is dry)

What I Do:

Preheat your oven to 350, and line a 9 inch baking pan with parchment.

Mix the flax seed meal and 5 T of water in a small bowl and set aside for 4-5 mins, until mixture thickens and resembles egg white. This will be your ‘egg’. Add this mixture to pureed squash, coconut oil, and vanilla.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Fold your dry ingredients into your squash mixture until combined. The batter should be thick, glossy and smooth. If it looks crumbly and sandy, add the extra Tablespoon of water.

Transfer brownie mixture into baking pan and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. To test whether it’s done, stick a toothpick or sharp knife into the center. When you pull it out, it should be clean and not have any batter stuck to it.

Once out of the oven let the brownies sit for 20 minutes or overnight before serving. These are meant to be gooey brownies- not underdone, but not cake-y!

vegan squash brownies salad for breakfast
“Cuz every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” Meghan Trainor

Baked Buffalo Cauliflower

cauliflower

Otherwise known as how to snack like a Boss 101.

Recently while trawling the interwebs, I saw a recipe for buffalo-style cauliflower, and was immediately intrigued. I am a fan of all types of cauliflower concoctions because it’s such a versatile vegetable. I was definitely inspired after looking at a few posts on buffalo cauliflower that I decided to try my hand at the game.

As someone who hails from Buffalo, NY, I don’t take claims to ‘buffalo style’ food items lightly. Buffalo is known for its snow and its wings, but in between all of that it’s a city with one of the most thriving arts scenes in the USA, and some of the tastiest food. I’m proud to say that these cauliflower bites are every bit buffalo-y to their chicken counterpart: tangy, salty, crispy, and slight notes of buttery heat with each bite. Best of all, they’re baked so you can eat them by the dozen with a clear conscience.

The recipe below uses chickpea flour (or besan as it’s commonly referred to in North India) which forms an outer ‘skin’ on the cauliflower once baked. I think this coating is essential to the recipe as it allows the sauce to adhere better and for the cauliflower to have a tasty crispy outer shell.

For true ‘buffalo sauce’ all you need to do is mix equal parts butter/margarine with hot sauce. That’s all. Buffalo sauce is  indulgent, salty, tangy with slight heat. For those who like things spicier, you can use a spicier hot sauce, but no need to embellish with a million other ingredients. Just make sure your hot sauce has some vinegar and salt in it- that’s crucial to capture the tangy-ness of a real buffalo wing.

What I’m listening to

Goo Goo Dolls- A Boy named Goo

Ingredients

1 cup chickpea flour

1 tsp garlic powder

Dash of cayenne

¼ – ½ tsp salt (depending on your salt preferences)

1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard

Fresh black pepper

1 cup water

1 medium head cauliflower cut into 2 inch florets

¼ cup Earth Balance (or any other butter/margarine), melted

¼ cup Frank’s Hot Sauce (Yes. I love Franks)

What I do

Preheat the oven to 450° and grease/spray a baking tray.

Coating ingredients: mustard, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, chickpea flour
Coating ingredients: mustard, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, chickpea flour

Make your coating: Mix chickpea flour, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, mustard and some freshly ground black pepper together in a bowl. Add the water ¼ cup at a time and mix until it forms a batter that is slightly thinner than American pancake batter.

IMG_1274
If you click on this picture in your browser, it should be the exact size of a cauliflower floret that you’re going for.

Prepare cauliflower: Cut your cauliflower into equal sized florets (this allows them to cook evenly) of about 2 inches long. If you cut them smaller or thinner they might disintegrate before they’re fully cooked. Dip the florets into the batter, and make sure they’re evenly coated.

Throw a few into the batter at a time
Throw a few into the batter at a time

Repeat until you either run out of batter or run out of florets.IMG_1302

Bake the florets in the oven for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through. While they’re baking, make your sauce by mixing the Earth Balance and Hot Sauce together.

Remove the Cauliflower from the oven and douse each piece with the hot sauce.

Lather on the sauce
Lather on the sauce
And again...
And again…
Until each piece is evenly coated!
Until each piece is evenly coated!

Once each piece is coated, flip over and coat the second side as well.

Bake in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before digging in.

I made a fast dipping sauce with some vegan mayo, caper brine and yellow pepper sauce.
I made a fast dipping sauce with some vegan mayo, caper brine and yellow pepper sauce.

Oh Yeah! Buffalo Cauliflower For the Win.

 

Day 12: Leftover Friday salad with warm lentils

leftover salad

Friends! Allow me this lazy Friday salad. A beautiful bouquet of all the little bits I have left in my fridge were thrown into a giant bowl. Can you identify all the ingredients?

It’s got red quinoa, roasted carrot, roasted beets, roasted parsnip, parsley, lettuce, red cabbage and some warm lentils. The best part? I think the distinctly sweet roasted parsnip- the clear winner!

Leftover Fridays! Enough salad for breakfast, dinner, and maybe breakfast again? We’ll see…

#21daysofsaladforbreakfast

21 day