This week I finished Day 80 of my 80 day functional strength training program. Over the course of 80 days, I completed some pretty tough workouts. As I went through the three phases, I could feel my strength improving. One thing I did not do, was follow the nutritional component that came with the program. Unfortunately, I found it complicated and totally unrealistic. Seriously, if you make it too complicated, nobody will stick to it. That’s one of the main reasons people grab fast food, to keep it simple. While I lost 10 pounds during this 80 day program, I know I still need to work on my nutrition as I plan to start running soon. I’m slated to begin my running training on May 2nd, but don’t intend to do so until I lose a few more pounds. There is no way I am going to stress my hip again and suffer another fracture.
Enter the online nutrition class I signed up for. As part of this program, I receive lessons each week to read and listen to with suggested changes I can try. I’ve learned a lot about macronutrients and how my body responds to different types of foods. This current cycle’s focus is on intuitive eating with mostly plant based meals. I’ve reduced my intake of animal protein during this phase to no more than 1 serving a day. I actually do think I have been sleeping slightly better and I seriously have no cravings for sweet or salty foods. I honestly have not even been craving a glass of wine when I cook.
It hasn’t been easy making all these changes. The first phase was easy as I was really just tracking and observing how I felt. Week two of plant based eating was more challenging for me than week one. It’s not that I’m missing any specific food, it’s that I’m missing the variety of cooking options. Currently, I don’t have an arsenal of plant based recipes in my cooking toolkit. In the past, I would have already been reaching for pasta dishes and calling them plant based, but I know better than that now. I also am not a huge fan of beans other than lentils which limits my choices as well.
One way I made my life easier this week was by purchasing pre-chopped salad. This is something I never do, but if has offered me the opportunity to try out many different vegetable based salads without investing in large amounts of vegetables. Sometimes, when I purchase fresh vegetables for recipes, I end up wasting them. Either I can’t keep up with weeknight cooking, or they go bad. These pre-chopped, bagged salads allowed me to try out different mixtures of raw vegetables to see which ones I prefer. Now, I’ll be able to purchase ingredients for future meals without waste.
Trader Joe’s has some really nice versions of bagged, complete salad kits. I don’t use the dressing included, but everything else included is good to go into my salad. I’ve truly enjoyed the broccoli and kale slaw and the cruciferous salad kits. They are perfect stand alone meals, or on days I’m adding in animal proteins make great sides. This week, I even ate them for breakfast along with my eggs. I added roasted sweet potato, mini cucumbers and pomegranate seeds. This is something I never would have considered eating for breakfast in the past and it truly was delicious.
Dinner has been a bit harder to come up with ideas for protein sources without some form of animal protein, so I’ve got some work to do. I am not a fan of legumes, so I’ve been adding nuts. Tonight’s salad had pistachios and I added some chia seeds. I’m continuing to search for interesting plant recipes to make for dinner. Two that I enjoyed this week were Black Bean Burgers and Cream of Broccoli Soup. Both were super easy to make and ready within 30 minutes, including prep. This made them a great choices for after work cooking.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
- 1 small head broccoli, chopped, stems removed
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup bone broth
- ⅓ cup raw cashews
- 1 cup spinach
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- In a large pot, heat the oil and toss in the onion and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 4 minutes, then add in the garlic for 1 minute.
- Add the broccoli and stir for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and broth and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the cashews and simmer for 5 minutes. Cashews will be nicely softened and make for a creamy soup once blended.
- Carefully pour into a large blender, or Vitamix. Add the spinach, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Be sure to hold the cover or it will explode when you turn it on. Blend until smooth. (If you have immersion blender use that.)
- If you need a bit more protein, consider topping your soup with an additional tablespoon of nutritional yeast and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.
*This recipe was shared by Chalene Johnson, 131
This soup was so delicious and creamy. The coconut milk added a boost of healthy fats and flavor. I added red pepper flakes to give it a nice bit of heat as well. I planned to sip this soup at work all week, but it was so good there was nothing leftover. Next time I’ll have to make a larger pot! It was a lovely shade of green, which my phone just doesn’t capture well.
What are your favorite plant based sites and recipes? Please do share below as I am on the lookout for new ideas.