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!

 

Spice up your life: Vegan Chai Spice Cake

It’s the most wonderful time of the year ya’ll. Not only is this month full of beauty and bounty it also brings on weeks and weeks of festivities. Over the weekend, many Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving and yesterday was the start of Navaratri, a nine night Hindu festival [stay tuned for more on this…].

No matter where you are, over the course of the next few months you will undoubtedly be surrounded by festivities. Regardless of the occasion, at this time of the year you can never go wrong with bringing some spice cake along to share. [Read: you can never go wrong with spice cake any time of the year]

vegan chai spice cake

I used Vaishali’s recipe for Pumpkin Chai Spice Cake from Holy Cow! and it was perfectly straightforward. The only change I made was to use acorn squash instead of pumpkin because that’s what I had roasted. It’s a vegan cake so no dairy or eggs needed. If you’ve never tried vegan baking, it’s really easy and the most delicious cakes don’t require any fancy ingredients. It’s great if you know anyone with dairy allergies or anyone who is a “strict” vegetarian [read: no eggs]. As a bonus, you can leave vegan cakes sitting out on the counter, and after a day or so they don’t become ‘crusty’ and crumbly like their egg-laden cousins.

vegan chai spice cake

But I digress…back to this cake: seriously- WOW! Vaishali is a genius. My home smelled incredible and when we took a wedge of cake in the car [because it’s essential one always has cake in the car] we had the smell of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and ginger teasing us the whole journey.

vegan spice cake and chai saladforbreakfast
Cake & chai for breakfast

I had a slice with an amazing cup of chai and was in chai heaven… Whichever way you slice it, try the recipe, enjoy and whenever possible- spice up your life with some of this cake.

Now, please excuse me as I go back to singing along with the Spice Girls (especially at 2.04)…

Microphone check 1, 2…

-Ahem-

Is anyone out there? Do I still have the privilege of invading your inbox and head space? After years of dreaming about starting a blog, I finally did it- almost one year ago! The push came from a course I was doing, but along the way I realized how natural it felt to write again. And a blog about f-o-o-d?! Heck yeah! I was all in…

And then came the daunting task of creating, documenting, photographing (thanks Manu!), writing, editing, proof reading…eek! The reality of this blog began to settle in. And I just sort of shut down my laptop and never opened it up again. My husband has been bugging me for weeks months to get back to blogging; suggesting that my readers would think that eating salad for breakfast might have killed me (!)

But I’m here ya’ll! Alive and well, and still cooking up a storm. And I do have some fabulous things to share with you… if you’re still there?!

The most scrumptious cauliflower
The most scrumptious cauliflower
malaysian vegetarian food
Heavenly vegetarian food on a recent trip to Malaysia.

The above photos are just a taste of what’s to come. Stay tuned for updates and more details. After all, October is the most wonderful and bountiful time of the year, so in the hallowed words of The Fugees, Ready or Not Here I come.

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.

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.

It’s the most adventurous time of the year

21 day

Oh Yes I Did!

Fellow blogger extraordinaire, Hanna from Clouds & Meatballs recently posted about the challenges of eating well as the months turn cold. I definitely agree that this time of the year my body demands comfort from: food, oversized sweaters and fluffy slippers.

It’s times like this when a cool crisp salad is usually the last thing my body craves. And I certainly don’t intend to eat one of those in the coming weeks. But I do know that my body needs healthy options this time of the year; at least to bring balance to the unscheduled appearances of cookies, pies, mashed potatoes, and all those other goodies that are rampant this holiday season.

21 Days of Salad for Breakfast is a personal dare that I intend to document and share with you.

Here’s the dare:

  • Starting Dec 1st, eat a vegetable-centric breakfast
  • No more than one smoothie-type breakfast per week
  • Share the journey with others

I invite you all to take part! Since everyone’s vegetable intake and likings differ, I’m going to let you decide what a ‘vegetable-centric’ breakfast looks like. I’m also going to let you decide just how many days you’d like to “dare yourself” to commit to. Finally, share your journey through stories, recipes, pictures, poems, etc!

Yup! That’s all! Consider this a choose-your-own adventure type dare!

Looking forward to sharing this journey with you all, and hearing about your own experiments with Salad for Breakfast!