Yummy Soups for a Chilly Day

Brrrrrr…this week in Omaha the temperature dropped from 90 some degrees to about 55. So during times like these I start to crave a nice hot soup! Luckily I have two great recipes that always warm up my toes. One, is a creamy tomato bisque and the other is a hearty lentil soup. I know… some people hate lentils, so I thought I would give you two options. However, just be aware that lentils are actually really great for you. They’re a fantastic source of protein (especially if you’re vegan) and fiber, but if you are watching your carbs, just be careful, as they do pack a load. These two soups have completely different flavors, but I love both! Usually, with the tomato soup my fiancee and I will make grilled cheese to pair with the soup. When I make the lentil soup I add some extra chilles to add spice and get the sinuses cleared up. You can also heat up a couple tortillas and just roll them up and eat them with the soup.

I will have to credit this recipe to my fiancé who has been making this dish for a very long time. Since the first time I tried it, I fell in love! It just hits the heart. The lentil soup goes back to my childhood. When it started to get really cold my mom would always make this amazing lentil soup with some poached eggs and delicious vegetables. I think if you can’t decide which one to make first, dont worry you can make the other one next week. I promise that you won’t regret it.

Tomato Soup Ingredients

  • 1 lb of tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 handful of basil
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 1 1/2 of heavy creme
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of pepper

Directions:

  1. Roast tomatoes (halved), garlic, and onion in the over at 400 degrees for 45 minutes
  2. Once those items are cooked, switch them to a large sauce pan and use an emulsion blender until it’s broken down to a sauce, or you can transfer to a blender and blend the three ingredients.
  3. Add salt, basil, heavy creme, pepper, and parmesan cheese to your sauce pan or blender and blend again.
  4. Serve your soup

Lentil Soup Ingredients

  • 1 lb of lentils (color doesn’t matter)
  • 6-8 cups of water (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 2 tbsp of salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 4 diced roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of diced onion
  • 2 cups of kale
  • 1/2 lb of mushrooms
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-3 chopped serranos (add more if you want it really spicy)
  • 1 tbsp of cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Bring the 6-8 cups of water to a boil in large sauce pan
  2. Add salt, half onion, garlic, lentils to the sauce pan
  3. Once the lentils come to a boil turn down the hit to a low medium and allow to cook for 45 mins
  4. On the side add olive oil to a sauté pan and add your diced tomatoes, other half of diced onion, kale, and mushrooms.
  5. Cook them throughly
  6. In the last 15 mins of the lentil cook time, add the contents that you sautéd
  7. In the last 5 minutes of the lentil cook time crack your 6 eggs in the large sauce pan with the lentils (space them apart).
  8. Once you feel the lentils are soft and the eggs looked cooked through, serve in a dish and add a little of the chopped Serrano and cilantro
  9. Enjoy!

Hope you enjoy these soups as much as we did, and stay tune for my broccoli bake and fish tacos! If you want me to try any dishes you have please send them my way and I will try to share them and recreate them with my own pizzazz.

The whole enchilada

If you’re like me, you probably love every type of enchilada. There’s mole enchiladas, enchiladas verdes, seafood enchiladas, and of course cheese enchiladas. However, in theme with my current health journey I want to introduce you to the zucchini enchilada! You’re probably thinking, “this is going to be a lot of work” and “I am going to need so many different ingredients.” In actuality it’s a pretty easy dish to make and the only ingredient you might not have and would need to buy is the enchilada sauce.

Normally when I have enchiladas you eat 2-3 and then you’re so stuffed. Not only that but you also feel bad eating more from all the carbs in the tortillas and the filling. However, with this dish there’s not as much of a guilty feeling because the wrapping is made with zucchini instead and the filling is just potatoes and beans (feel free to make with any other of your favorite veggies like mushrooms or sweet potatoes as well). The other great part of this dish is that it almost tastes like there’s meat in it and it doesn’t taste too veggyish. Sometimes with some vegetable substitutions you can really taste the difference, but my fiancé really loved them (and she’s a little picky).

Partial Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 1 can of refried beans (8 oz)
  • 1 bag of Mexican Style Cheese blend (12 OZ)
  • 2 tbsp of cumin
  • 2 tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of garlic powder
  • 1 bottles of Trader Joes enchiladas sauce
  • 4 zucchinis

Toppings:

  • 1 tbsp of sour creme
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 avocado

Directions

  1. Wash all vegetables prior to cooking
  2. Cut potatoes into small half inch pieces and start to boil water
  3. Throw your potatoes into the boiling water and then bring to a simmer after 5 mins of boiling
  4. Use mandolin to slice zucchini (long way) into very thin slices
  5. Once potatoes are done add to a mixing bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Open can of beans and add to mixing bowl with all your spices (cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic, and salt).
  7. Grab your zucchini slices and then put next to each other three of them the long way. Then add a spoonful of your stuffing and add to the he center and spread over the 3 slices.
  8. Then roll the zucchini slices like taquitos and add to a baking sheet or cast iron pan after you buttered it (pam spray works as well).
  9. Fill baking sheet or cast iron with enchiladas, and then top off with the bottle of enchilada sauce and then your cheese.
  10. Bake enchiladas for 20-30 minutes on 375 degrees.
  11. Slice your avocado into thin slices, and cut up green onion and cilantro.
  12. Remove enchiladas from oven, add your portion to your plate and garnish with sour cream, cilantro, and avocado.
  13. Enjoy
Finished Enchiladas

Hope you loved these as much as I did! Remember you can have more than 2 helpings since these are a little healthier 😉

Come back next time for a Broccoli Alfredo Bake!

Meatless Burgers

I know I know, before you even think about skipping this recipe just give it a chance. Americans love their beef, I get it (I love it too). However, sometimes it’s nice to give new things a try and you might be surprised how good it might turn out. I am not trying to change y’all into vegetarians, I promise, but there have been a lot of studies showing that lowering your red meat intake can have a multitude of benefits. Personally, I have been trying to eat less meat in general. I didn’t really want to put a title on it, just because I didn’t want to feel trapped and feel like I failed. Instead, I am just trying to eat less meat, trying to replace it with more plant based meals, and being more conscious of the ingredients I am utilizing. It was very hard in the beginning, but now it has been three weeks and I have been able to do 5 out of the 7 days with no meat. I am still eating seafood and fish, so its been more like being a pescatarian (I am eating eggs and diary products as well).

One of my favorite dishes that we have made are these chickpea burgers. At first I thought that the burgers would be really dry and without flavor, but after trying them they were the opposite of my expectations. These are very basic to make and it won’t require a huge basket of ingredients, except a few spices from your cabinet. It’s also very easy to prep and the cooking time is very short in case you are in a time crunch. One thing I would highly recommend is having an extra sauce like some hot sauce or some ranch as it just makes the burger ever better (we had sriracha and a green hot sauce).

Ingredients:

  • 1 Head of cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp of butter
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp of cumin
  • 1 Cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 Can of chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo beans)
  • 2 Tbsp of paprika
  • 2 Tbsp of lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp of salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp of pepper
  • Preferred set of burger buns (we used sandwich thins)

Sauce:

  • 1/2 Cup of mayo
  • 2 Tbsp of buffalo sauce

Toppings:

  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Head of Lettuce (we used kale)
  • 1 Jar of pickles
  • 1 Onion (we used purple onion)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut up cauliflower into small pieces (small enough to fit in food processor) and drizzle a little olive oil with salt.
  3. Put prepped cauliflower onto a baking sheet and place in your oven for 25 minutes.
  4. While your cauliflower cooks, place chickpeas in food processor with the cumin, paprika, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  5. Once the cauliflower is cooked, add it to the food processor and puree until finely mashed
  6. Let your mixture cool down in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Take mixture out of the fridge, and then add bread crumbs and mix together. Once mixed, form mixture into patties that will fit your buns.
  8. Get a skillet and add some olive oil, and put on medium to high heat. Place patties on your skillet and cook each side for 2-3 minutes or until browned until each side.
  9. In your oven place your buns and lightly add butter to them to toast them up.
  10. Get a small container and add your mayo and buffalo sauce and mix together with a spoon.
  11. Cut up tomato and onion into slices, wash lettuce and cut to size, and then get your pickle jar
  12. Finally, add your toasted up bun on your plate, place a chickpea patty on your bun, add sauce to the top side of then bun and then add cut up toppings as you like and viola!

I really hope that you enjoyed these burgers as much as we did. Maybe now you’ll be more open minded to meatless dishes! For those of you that are already vegetarians or vegans I will be sharing a lot more yummy recipes to try out.

Next up Zucchini Enchiladas! Get ready!

Tricky Tofu

If you follow me on social media, you probably saw my new dish that I recently made called sweet chili tofu. Besides people telling me how good it looked; I also got a lot of people that asked how to make tofu because it either always tasted really bland or it ended up falling apart. Well today you’re in luck; I am going to give you some quick tips to working with tofu that I have learned over time. Before we do that though, I thought I would tell you a little about tofu especially for the people that have never heard of it or used it in their cooking. Tofu originates from Japan and is about 1000 years old. It was thought to be made on accident when a chef let soy milk cook too long that it caused it to curdle. Over time it has gained a lot popularity since its low carb, high in protein, and a good substitute for meat (read more here).

The first time I ever made Tofu I didn’t really like it. There was no flavor and it was barely noticeable in my dish because it had crumbled up. It still tasted like plain tofu; even though I added many different seasonings and sauces. Over time I found out what my issues were. First it is was preparation and secondly it was my method of cooking.

Any expert tofu cooker will tell you that you always need to dry off the tofu when removing it from the packaging. This allows for any sauces or seasonings to be more easily absorbed. If you don’t dry it off then it’s much harder for the tofu to absorb all the great ingredients you added. The second trick is to cut up your tofu into half inch squares. That way the marinade/seasonings have more surface area to get into, and it also takes less time for the flavor to be absorbed. Lastly always allow your marinade/seasonings to sit in your tofu for at least 30 minutes. By doing all these three tricks you’ll ensure that all the yummy flavors get into your tofu prior to cooking.

One thing to know is what dish you’ll be cooking so you know what kind of firmness of tofu you will be needing. If you are making a miso soup or a dish that the tofu won’t be the star of the dish you can always go with soft or medium tofu. For the dish that I made you need the tofu to stay together so you will need extra firm tofu. You can find all the different varieties at your local store. Trader Joes usually has 3 to 4 different varieties. Secondly, if you are going to stir fry your tofu or pan fry it make sure that you fold your tofu when stiring and don’t just mix it. By mixing it, the tofu will start to fall apart. By folding the tofu it will keep the tofu intact (read about folding here). Also make sure that you allow the tofu to brown/crisp up on each side so that you get that crunchy exterior but soft interior.

Sweet Chili Tofu with Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag of green beans
  • 1 Block of extra firm tofu
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup of sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp of hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp of fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp of corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp of low sodium soy sauce

Toppings:

  • 1 Tbsp of fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 Cup of peanuts (can also use cashews)
  • 2 Green onions

Directions:

  1. Remove tofu from packaging and pat dry. Cut into 1/2 inch squares.
  2. Add tofu to a large mixing bowl and add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and lastly corn starch. Fold in ingredients and let tofu sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Heat up olive oil in a sauté pan and then add Tofu. DO NOT STIR. Allow each side of the tofu to crisp up and then individually flip every 2-3 minutes.
  4. Microwave or steam your green beans and place to the side to serve.
  5. Once tofu is golden brown remove from sauté pan and add to a mix bowl and then add in sweet chili sauce (fold again).
  6. Cut up cilantro, peanuts, and green onion into small pieces to top off tofu.
  7. Add tofu to a serving platter or individual plate and add a little cilantro, green onion, and peanuts. Then add green beans to the side and lightly salt or add a bit of soy sauce.
  8. A little thing I add to the dish for some spice is sriracha but you don’t have to.

I hope that after you try making this dish, you’ll want to try out other delicious tofu recipes. Trust me you have just unlocked another powerful ingredient that will add a lot of variety to your cooking. Did I mention that its really high in protein and low in carbs, so don’t feel bad having a second or third helping! If you enjoyed this blog post and recipe please share or spread the word. I will be adding many more recipes and more frequently. A lot of people have been cheering on this adventure so I will continue to provide and make your culinary journey a fun and exotic one!

Cheers! Keep on Cook’n!

The Best Meatless Ragu

Over the last couple weeks I have been trying out so many new meatless dishes that I have totally forgot to share them with all of you. Just today I made a fabulous eggplant gnocchi ragu, and we loved it! You won’t even notice that the meat component is missing. Traditionally an Italian ragu comes with some beef, turkey, or practically any meat you can think of. However, since I have been on this pescatarian kick I thought I would substitute eggplant for the meat. If you have never made eggplant or don’t think you will like it, I promise you that after you make it one time you will try to incorporate into your cooking. We made the sauce with tomatoes and basil from our garden and I really feel like it takes it up a notch.

Below is the ingredients you will need

Sauce components:

  • 3 Cups of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup of olive oil
  • 1 Shallot
  • 2 Tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp of salt
  • 2 Tsp of dried oregano
  • 2 Tsp of dried basil
  • 2 Tsp of Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tsp of chili flakes
  • 1 Small bunch of fresh basil
  • 2 Bags of frozen Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi

For the roasted eggplant:

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Tsp of pepper
  • 1 Tsp of cumin
  • 1 Tsp of chili powder
  • 1 Tsp of garlic salt
  • 3 Tbsp of olive oil

Toppings:

  • 1 Tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp of ricotta cheese

Directions

  1. Add diced eggplant to your baking sheet with olive oil. Add olive oil, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and garlic salt. Bake at 420 degrees for 30 minutes.
  2. In a large sauce pan heat up olive oil, and then add minced garlic and shallots and stir till golden brown.
  3. Add tomatoes and then add salt, oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, and chili flakes. Bring to a boil and then put it on low (enough to simmer ) for 30 minutes.
  4. Once the eggplant is fully cooked add to the ragu sauce. Take the fresh basil and cut it up with shear scissors and add to your ragu sauce.
  5. Take your frozen gnocchi bags and add onto of the sauce and cover with lid and let it simmer for another 10 mins.
  6. Check your sauce and make sure that the gnocchi is soft, and then serve onto a bowl with a dollop of ricotta cheese, fresh basil, and Parmesan cheese if desired.

When you read the recipe name it sounds pretty complex, but after you break it down its actually not that bad and its worth the hassle (I promise)! If you don’t want to use eggplant you can always substitute it with any type of meat. I would just recommend that you cook your meat separately and once its browned and fully cooked then you can add it to your ragu sauce when we added the eggplant. Overall this dish is also very healthy, but if you are trying to keep it vegan just skip the ricotta and Parmesan cheese and viola! I would definitely make this dish again and would recommend it to anyone that wants to have a meatless entree without any guilt.

Stay tuned for my next recipe… homemade tomato soup with grilled three cheese sandwich!!! YUM

Weekend Adventures

This weekend was a blast. In addition to hanging out with some of my friends I also did some really fun activities. After work on Friday, I headed to the driving range and met up with my friend Ana and Andrew. We hit some balls and caught up with each other regarding each of our weeks. I always find this time to be a blessing to talk about what’s been bothering you, what you have coming up, and even future plans. While we were finishing up, of course, we were starting to crave some margaritas. So we conjured up a plan to get our other friend Vikky to come out with us and try out the new Switch in Blackstone District. I really wanted them to try it because they have an Infusion Brewery and about six other restaurants inside; that way everyone can eat whatever their heart desires.

If you live in Omaha it’s a must try. When we first arrived they were all impressed at how many food options there was and how busy it was. I had already been twice that week because when something new opens up I need to try it and write a yelp review. We eventually decided to get Red Lantern (the Vietnamese restaurant) and Arepon (the Venezuelan restaurant). I got a Bahn mi and then I also got the Llanera arepa. My friends got the Pho, the Bahn Mi, and springs rolls. In addition to our food we got some beers at Infusion; I got the Blood Orange and the IPA they had on special for only $3. Our friend Ana decided to surprise us by getting multiple desserts at the Bubbly Tart, and let me tell you they were all so amazing. Even our friend Mariel, (who had just joined us) who bakes regularly, was in love. I would highly recommend trying the drinks and all the delicious food at the Switch.

The next day I met up with a couple of other friends to golf at Milts in Ralston. I’ve only been golfing a few times, and our buddy Brandon had never golfed before so it was going to be fun time. I enjoy playing with people that are still learning because if you play with folks that are really great, they can get pretty competitive or even annoyed if you keep messing up. However, golfing with Michaela and Brandon was a blast. We made a bet that whoever lost the most holes had to actually buy shots afterwards. Somehow Brandon and I tied, so either I really sucked or he had some beginners luck. After the game, we went to Varsity’s and enjoyed our shots and some buffalo wings.

Once I got a nap in, I then headed to my other friends house because he had been smoking a pork butt and some brisket. I think I timed it right, because as I walked in the brisket was just being unwrapped. Now I know some people don’t like brisket, but I love it. I quickly grabbed two pieces of white bread and Famous Daves Devils spit and made myself a sandwich. It was delightful. After a couple hours, the pork butt was finished so I then had a couple sandwiches of that and some coleslaw and potatoes salad. Any time I have BBQ it just makes me smile. For my cheat day it was perfect; I always say that you gotta treat yourself.

On Sunday I went to visit my parents because I had not visited them in a couple weeks. Every time I get to visit them we always have amazing food. As I walked in, she already had a Chile con Huevo (egg) going and had fresh beans that had been cooked. My dad was just seasoning some steaks that they had bought the day before. I could already tell it was going to be an amazing meal. I helped cook the steaks because they were about 1.5 inches thick and they wanted to make sure they were done right. Normally they get that really thin steak for carne asada so they’re not used to cooking that kind of thickness. After 10 minutes, the steaks were ready and it was time to enjoy. We plated our food and then sat on the patio enjoying the weather and catching up. I really appreciate this time as some people don’t have their parents around or the greatest relationship with them so I am lucky in that way. They always give me great advise and they’re always making sure that everything is going okay in my life. I love them and I love to visit them because not only do they always make delicious food, but I really enjoy being around my family.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend as well!

Cheers!

Supplement your life

As you may already know, I have recently been all about eating healthier and getting your exercise in. However, in addition to that I have joined team supplements after listening to multiple podcast and reading many different articles regarding health benefits. Now at first you might be thinking that I am talking about taking testosterone boosters or the new hyped supplement for weight loss, but I am actually talking about vitamins and minerals.

Sure there are some vitamins and minerals that you can get from your daily food intake, but there are some that are more difficult to get based off your diet. For example, some people don’t really eat seafood or fish very often, so I am sure you are missing out on those good Omega-3s; or for example, if you’re not getting outside on a daily basis and drinking lots of milk, you are probably vitamin D deficient. However, don’t worry it’s not too late to start and change your lifestyle. I might add that I am not licensed Dr. or nutritionist, but I will give tell why I got into taking my vitamins and why they are important. Make sure that you do your own research and consult with your physician for maximum benefits and potential side effects.

About six months ago, I was listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast and there was a nutritionist (that had her Phd) that was speaking and talking about why it was so important to take certain vitamins. She explained that many people think that taking vitamins or supplements will not help your overall health and that most of it will be extracted when you use the restroom. However, she went on to say that the basis of this started off from an incorrect study that was published. When she reviewed the journal she found that they tried to prove their hypothesis that humans will not reap benefits from taking supplements or reverse cognitive decline, but they failed to include that these test subjects were actually about to die. They all had underlying health conditions, were elderly and were pretty much in hospice care. The main reason you want to take vitamins and supplements is to help in the long run, and not when you’re already in a bad state or dying as it won’t do any good. The main thing is that by starting early and in good health you will reap more of the benefits of taking these supplements.

Of course, after listening to that podcast I was hooked, so I listened to other podcast that she appeared on the Joe Rogan Show (total of 6), and then I also started to follow her personal podcast (called foundmyfitness.com). I also read up on all her claims and they proved to be true. So after doing a lot of reading and listening to hours of podcasts on nutrition I started my journey on getting the items I needed.

Based on her talks the first supplement that I decided to get was some Vitamin D3. Then of course I got my normal multivitamin, and then my Omega 3, Zinc , and finally Magnesium. Why did I get all these you my ask, well here’s the answer. The Vitamin D3 supports nerve and brain health, regulates insulin levels and diabetes management, helps with regulating cardiovascular system and lungs, and finally influences the expression of genes in cancer development. The Omega 3 is really good for lowering blood pressure, slows the development of plaque in the arteries, reduces the chance of stroke, and helps regulate heart beat. Zinc has been proven to help with strengthening the immune system which is necessary currently with the COVID crisis and it also helps with your metabolism function. Magnesium actually helps with so many things and is the one that surprised me the most. It helps with the regulation of thousands of biochemical reactions, it boosts exercise performance, helps fight depression, has benefits against developing type 2 diabetes, has anti inflammatory properties, reduces insulin resistance, reduces migraines, and can also help to lower blood pressure. As you can all of these have amazing health benefits, so you might be asking why you haven’t heard about these before. I had the same thought. Like I said previously most people believe that by having your normal meals you’ll be able to get all these vitamins and minerals, however, in actuality it can be very tough unless you perfectly plan out your meals. So instead I spend a few more dollars and make sure I have my daily recommended amounts.

The main thing about these supplements as Dr. Rhonda Patrick says is that you need to start taking them now so that you body has the benefit of time. Don’t be like the people in the studies and wait to be suffering from underlying health issues to start taking these supplements. I will say that after starting this regiment I have a lot ton of energy, I feel much more alert, and then the magnesium really helps with my digestive system regulation. Don’t just take my word for it though, please read on these topics and make sure that you check out Dr. Rhonda Patrick who has been a blessing in my journey to a healthier and wholesome lifestyle.

Check her stuff out on the following website:

https://www.foundmyfitness.com

Healthy Green Gnocchi

If you’re like me, you love to enjoy amazing food but try and do it in the easiest possible way. So when I heard that Trader Joes had cauliflower gnocchi; I needed to try it immediately. The first thing that came to my mind was making a pesto gnocchi. Ever since I started my diet I wanted to avoid carbohydrates so I really missed my pasta.

With this recipe all you will need is a little butter, a pesto from your favorite store, and a choice of meat that you would like to top off your gnocchi with. In my case we pre-made some turkey meatballs.

All you’ll have to do is remove the gnocchi from the bag (doesn’t need to be thawed), then melt some butter on a skillet, and once its hot sauté the gnocchi for 10-12 minutes.

Once its golden brown you’ll add your pesto sauce and the meat to your skillet. Finally throw your portion to your dish and garnish with a little parsley and parmesan cheese. If you don’t want to dirty a pan, you can also bake it at 420 degrees for 15 minutes and then throw your sauce and meat into the tray for the last five minutes.

My favorite part of this dish is that its so easy to make and its delicious. Its also a great way to avoid carbs and make a pasta dish a little healthier.

The Constant Journey

It has been a few weeks since my last entry, however, rest assured I have still been maintaining my workouts and my good habits. I even started to incorporate green powder shakes and protein smoothies in my routine. I also added a chewy multivitamin and vitamin D3 to help with my immune system and better my health overall. Last Thursday, I went to donate blood and I can confirm that my body is doing very well. My hemoglobin was at great level and my blood pressure was 118 over 75, which is amazing because it used to be 135 over 86. It’s all paying off and its made me never want to stop. I’ve bumped up my lifting sessions to six days a week and I also do cardio six times a week. It sounds a little over board, but I can honestly say I crave working out and I feel incomplete without it. I’ve increased the number of reps of each of my lifting exercises and I have also increased the weight by at least 50%. The only thing that has been a negative is that my weight is still right around 255 pounds, however, I think its more due heavy lifting and drinking protein smoothies (at least that’s what I tell myself). If you are looking for an amazing smoothie I would recommend Nutrition 402 on 120th and L. They don’t taste like protein or chalky and its fantastic after a long workout.

So this is a food blog so let’s get right to the food/recipes. I don’t actually have a recipe to share per se, but I do have some great meal prep ideas and suggestions to get you started on your healthy lunches and dinners. Not only will it save a bunch of time but you won’t need to buy so many ingredients and seasonings to make these delicious dishes. I plan it by selecting my protein, carb, and veggie for each of my meals. For my protein I tend to get chicken, fish, turkey burgers, or pork loin. For my carb I lean towards sweet potatoes and cauliflower mash (great recipe to follow). Finally, for greens, I usually do either a mushroom, asparagus, or squash. Really anything that you love you can incorporate into your cooking. I tend to use meats that you can easily grill because then you can knock out a lot of cooking without having to dirty a lot of pots and pans. Usually for the seasonings I keep it really simple. I always use salt and pepper (of course) then some garlic powder, chili powder, or lemon pepper seasoning. When I make fish I use Tony’s cajun seasoning. It does wonders. For the sweet potatoes and the cauliflower I usually just roast them in the oven at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes (prior to baking the s. p. I slice them in 1in rounds for quicker cooking). Then I toss all my veggies in olive oil and throw it all on the grill (once it reaches 450 degrees) with my proteins. Quick and easy.

If its your first time using the grill, just make sure that you have a meat thermometer so that you cook all the proteins evenly (which you can look up on the USDAs website). Once all your food medley is cooked; I just toss in a carb, a veggie, and a protein in some glassware (you can also use plastic Tupperware too). Now for the cauliflower mash recipe. After the cauliflower is done roasting in the oven, throw it in a mixing bowl and squish it with a cup or something handy you have. I then throw in some butter while its still hot, and then some heavy cream, and lastly some Parmesan cheese (you can also add in some garlic). Then mix, and viola you have a beautiful cauliflower mash for your dishes.

The key to meal prepping is to ensure that you make dishes that you will actually enjoy eating. If sweet potatoes or asparagus isn’t really you’re thing, then change it up to incorporate a veggie you love. That’s the best part about this, you can make anything you want as long as it easy and quick. The last thing you want to do is make dishes that are going to take longer to make than actually cooking each day, or making something gross you won’t actually eat. The other thing I would really suggest is to get little sides or things to spice up your dishes. Usually I get some green tomatillo salsa from Trader Joe’s, or I get those Wholey Guacamole cups to mix in with my meal. Lastly, your meals are a huge part of you eating healthy, but at first I had a lot trouble making it to meal time without feeling like I was starving. So make sure you have lots of healthy filling snacks to keep you full. For example, I usually buy almonds, walnuts, beef jerky, blue berries, carrots and hummus, or celery with almond butter. These snacks will be your lifesavers.

Even though you’ll make a variety of entrees, its always good to change things up and make sure that you are still treating yourself. In my case, I have really missed my sushi, so instead my fiancé and I have been buying some fresh salmon from Costco and making our own sashimi at home! We make some sticky rice, and then we bought all the gimmicks for it (like soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger). You might be thinking wow that sounds risky, but after doing a lot of research it turns out that its actually pretty safe if you get the Atlantic farmed salmon. In order to make it 100% safe, we will freeze the salmon once we get home and then use it the next day or whenever you want. For the sticky rice, we just get sushi rice from our local asian food market and then make it in the rice maker. Once its done cooking, we mix in rice wine, sugar, and sesame oil. We’ve found that the best way to make your nigiri is using Saran Wrap . You put your little bit of rice, add a little tiny bit of wasabi, and then your piece of fish. Then you wrap the saran wrap around it and tighten it, then you’ll have a great piece of nigiri, and then dip in soy sauce, hoison, or sriracha! If you want you can also make this nigiri recipe with tuna , scallops, or shrimp and its actually less risky than salmon (salmon tends to be the riskiest of the fish).

Also don’t be afraid to still have a cheat day and enjoy a donut here and there. It’s all about moderation with this. If you go cold turkey and you never have any of the good ole bad stuff you used to indulge in you’ll see that you will break easier than if you treat yourself here and there. Just make sure that you keep the workout routine and you will be golden. Lastly, if your state is open for take out or dine in please make sure that you are supporting local business or black owned businesses . It’s a pretty crazy time in our country, and now more than ever we need to have each others back.

COVID-19 Catch Up

I hope everyone is staying safe and sane during these crazy times. It’s almost been two months that I’ve been working from home. I am one of the fortune ones that still have one. There are so many Americans that have been furloughed or lost their job, so I am very thankful. I really hope this all ends soon, but I know from all the current reports it probably won’t happen till after the summer. However, instead of just sitting on the couch and not being productive I have used this time to get back into gear. I have lost another 10 pounds and I am now at 258 (my end goal is 220). I have also participated in some new activities like golf and which has been a lot of fun.

I have even started to drink wine, which is weird, because I never enjoyed it. It was always too bitter for my liking but I guess my palette has changed during COVID. While being home it has been great to catch up on my reading, because I started slacking off in February. I am almost halfway through Uncle Tom’s Cabin which has been really great read. Another nice thing about staying home is that at least it’s spring so you can get your glass of wine, sit outside, and grill!

Now that I have been on this health kick for about 6 months, its been much easier to make the right choices and eat healthy meals. I have even started taking some multivitamins and taking collagen for good skin. I also started running again which has been amazing to shed the weight. At first I started with a half mile, then a mile, then 2, and then 3. However, last week my Achilles started hurting so I decided to take a week off to let it rest and its finally starting to feel better enough to run on it again. I restarted light with a mile and then walked another 2 miles to get my legs back into shape. However, it’s been rough, I was doing so well and then all of sudden I had to stop. .

The other item that’s helping me is that my portion sizes are going down while also analyzing my meals. Don’t get me wrong; I still have a cheat meal here and there! Now that’s its pretty much summer I have also been grilling a lot and it makes it very easy to cook a bunch of meat and veggies. The Weber grill was definitely worth the investment, and I hope to maybe get a smoker this summer so that I can start to learn how to smoke meats. Also helping with my consumption is meal prepping.

Last week we started to prep out all our meals for the week and that’s been going well. We cook items that we actually like and a variety of items so that we don’t get bored of it. For example, this week we made pork loin with sweet potatoes and mushrooms and we also made another option which was salmon with asparagus and brussel sprouts. Any time its meal time I really look forward to eating my prepped food!

At the end of the day you have to do what works with you. Whether that’s selecting your work out type, level, and length or deciding what you are going to eat. If it’s not something you can be consistent with it’s not going to work or last over the long run. I always say its better to start with small steps and then work yourself into it. One good decision leads to another. I first just started going to the gym and just doing 10 mins of cardio and trying to eat one healthy meal a week. Now I crave healthy food and a good method of working out. Try out Yoga, try walking, or try that healthy appetizer you never ordered and you’ll see that over time it gets easier, just like quarantining at home with COVID-19.