Lentil Bolognese + Zucchini Pasta

Think eating vegan is boring or tasteless? HA. Think again my friend. Eating whole, plant-based foods has made me feel so much more energized and gives me all the nutrients my body needs to thrive!

So, I wanted to get creative in the kitchen and modify an old classic: spaghetti. Now, obviously zucchini noodles aren’t the same (and I still eat real pasta too) but we got a Vegetti and I had to try it out! ;D I want my family to eat more vegan dinners when I visit to show them how simple and satisfying it is.

A perk about this recipe is that the sauce literally takes about 20 minutes or less to prepare!

  • 144g dry lentils (drained and rinsed)
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced carrots
  • 4 oz chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 finely chopped red onion
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • dash of cumin
  • 1/2 cup water (will be adding more)
  • 2-3 zucchinis, spiralized (or your favorite pasta!)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, onion, and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes. Then add the carrots and mushrooms and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Now add the can of diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, cumin, water and lentils. Bring mixture to a simmer by increasing heat just a tad. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover until lentils are cooked (about 15-20 minutes).

Keep checking on it as it loses water fast and keep adding so it doesn’t dry out (lentils tend to absorb a lot of the water). The mixture shouldn’t be soupy, more of how chili would be.

Once the lentils are cooked, you can add more spices if needed. 

The fun part is spiralizing the zucchini to make zoodles!!! I had a fun time at least. 😉 Seriously if you don’t have a Veggeti, go get one right now and spiralize everything.

I ended up topping mine with some nutritional yeast for a little cheesy flavor but it honestly didn’t even need it! Serves 2-3 people depending on your appetite.

Store leftovers in fridge up to 3 days 🙂

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

It’s that time of year again! You know that pumpkin-obsessed-sweater-weather-bake-all-the-things time of year? My favorite! I love all the fall aromas from cinnamon apples to pumpkin pie ❤ 

Fills my heart…. and my stomach 😉

I made this DEE-licious gluten-free, vegan pumpkin bread and my oh my it was fabulous while it lasted! Even my dad was eating a slice every night 🙂

  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 4 oz unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • half of a small banana, mashed
  • 3 Tbsp agave syrup (can sub maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a large bowl, mix ground flaxseed with 4 Tbsp water and let sit 5 minutes to thicken. 

Preheat oven to 375 F and line a loaf pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. 

Add pumpkin, mashed banana, agave, and applesauce to flax mixture and whisk.

Next, add coconut sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg and whisk again until combined. Add 1/2 cup water and stir.

In another bowl, combine oats, oat flour, and almond meal. Then add that mixture to the wet and stir. The mixture should be thick and pourable. Add a tiny bit more water if too thick. 

Pour into loaf pan and sprinkle with chopped nuts if desired. Bake for about 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.

Remove and allow to cool in pan for at least 20 minutes before cutting. 

Keep in fridge to last up to a week! I personally loved this bread eaten chilled because it made it even more dense ❤ 


It turns out adding peanut butter or pb2 on top as a “frosting” completes my life. I don’t remember how many peices I had….haha. 

What’s your favorite fall flavor?

Why I Chose Vegan

I am exposing what I have been hiding for quite sometime. I don’t really know why I was hesitant to tell most people this… judgement? rejection? But I am going to be totally transparent and share what I believe in and why veganism is what I have chosen for myself.

I want to stroke you ^^

Let’s get into the background information as to what lead me to this…

I initially became interested in a plant-based diet ever since I stumbled across the book “How Not To Die” by Michael Greger M.D. also founder of http://nutritionfacts.org/.  Because I am going to school for dietetics, it’s not surprise that I am a total ‘nutrition nerd’ and probably could use a shirt saying so, haha. I am currently still working on finishing it  but after the first few chapters, it opened my eyes. I could not believe some of the things the meat and dairy industry do to animals and to the food they make from them. Along with reading this book I have searched through several articles and scholarly journals, watched a few documentaries, and sought advice from some of my vegan friends.

The answer could not have been more clear to me that this was the lifestyle I wanted to begin.

For the as long as I can remember, dairy has not cooperated with my body. Whenever I would use to eat it, my stomach would bloat the size of a watermelon and I would get really gassy, sometimes causing stomach pain. And I can’t just blame greek yogurt (the worst offender) but all the foods that contain animal products: eggs, cheese, protein bars and powders, some breads, packaged food items, dressings, crackers, you name it.

When I went to the doctors a few months ago I had a high amount of protein in my blood (see post) and I knew something had to change. I first stopped eating protein bars and whey protein powders but I still didn’t always feel too great.  Super full and bloated all the time, low energy, constipation, and I am going to be quite honest that I was eating protein bars just because I thought they were healthy and were doing my body good as to “make muscle gains”…. but little did I know they were not doing me any good. What my body was truly asking for was for REAL FOOD.

I remember having chicken for dinner one day and while I was eating it I realized I actually had no appetite for it. I was just eating it because it was there but so many other things could have been more satisfying for me. The next day I decided to try a vegan diet to test how hard it would be. To my surprise, it was actually super easy.Therefore, I tried it for a week. Let me tell you that by the end of that week I was feeling on top of the world. Could not believe all the energy I had all day and I literally think I pooped 3 times one day… TMI I don’t care, I share 😉 I already loved plant-based foods so making this change was not hard at all.

While some of you reading might have your own strong opinion on this topic, your feelings are 100% valid, but let me explain to you further. Yes, I USED to have eating issues. Yes, there are days that I admit are not perfect, I’m human. No, I am not using this to relapse into restrictive behaviors. That is not what a vegan diet is about. It’s about how it makes you feel. Compassion for animals. Doing what I feel is right in my heart. Unless you are going vegan in means to lose weight or avoid foods, a vegan diet is not restrictive. In today’s age, there are sooo many alternatives out there. Vegan ice cream, mac and cheese, pizza, burritos, chocolate, tempeh bacon,  ANYTHING can be made vegan. You can eat an abundance of plant-based foods with this lifestyle. In regards to all the stereotypes, a vegan diet is not eating lettuce all day.

And guess what? I have not lost weight since beginning this. What has happened:

  • increased energy levels
  • more “regularity”
  • doubling/tripling my carbohydrate intake
  • fear of carbs/sugars has diminished
  • my mind is free from obsessing about macros/calories
  • i feel happy and less stressed out
  • discovered my love of dates and bananas (erry day)
  • sleeping much better
  • less bloating/constipation

Do I recommend this for someone recovering from an eating disorder? It’s all in context. Ask yourself WHY you are truly doing this. Everyone is different. Different needs, bodies, mentalities, values, desires… so just because I am choosing this, doesn’t mean you have to. If you ever consider a change like this I highly recommend you a ton of research before even thinking about it. There are a lot of factors to consider and things you must know so you can ensure you are keeping your health in check.

I was thinking about doing a Q&A in the next week or so for people with any questions or concerns about veganism in general. You can literally ask anything you want to. Comment below  or shoot me an email at emlove814@gmail.com. These will be anonymous so I won’t put your name in the Q&A.

Baked Falafels

I remember the first time I saw a falafel, I was totally repulsed and turned off by the idea of a “fried ball of chickpeas”. I was about 6-7 years old and very naive to the fact that falafels are basically PURE MEDITERRANEAN BLISS.


What’s my favorite part about these special, homemade falafels though? For one, they are baked and totally oil-free! Secondly, they literally have 7 ingredients. DAS IT. Literally a monkey could make these, although if you don’t want monkey hair in your falafel ball I recommend making these yourself.

The Goods:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup oat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon’s juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic

The Process:

In a food processor, add in the parsley, lemon juice, cumin and sea salt and blend until combined.

Then, add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse. You don’t want to blend too much, it should still have some texture to it kind of like fluffy rice. If it looks like a smoothie, ditch it and repeat step one.

Next, form into 4 falafel patties with your hands and try to make them as firm as possible so they don’t fall apart. Place falafels on a foil lined cooking sheet and bake at 375 F for about 30-40 minutes (flipping halfway through) until a little crispy on the outside. If you want them more crisp, you can throw them in a pan and brown them.

It’s that easy!

So much flavaaa they don’t even need a sauce but if you must, I really love adding either hummus, tahini, or tzaziki sauce! Wrap in a pita, serve on a crisp salad, or just as a little snack.

These last up to a week in the fridge and a couple months in the freezer.

Lemme know if you try them out 🙂

 

 

 

Less Protein For MY Health

I have changed quite a bit from last year. Mentally, physically, socially, but my health has changed too. But up until recently when I made a trip to an endocrinologist about my hormones (hypothalamic amenorrhea) and just a general blood test, I discovered something I had no clue existed. For starters let me say that my hormone levels came back normal except for my LH being too low. Hence, no menstrual cycle. While discussing this with my doctor on the phone, he strongly suggested birth control and gaining a little more weight. Of course I happen to be a little frustrated because I told him birth control didn’t work on me and that’s not the way I can get a natural period. Doctors are really one-sided and he continued to tell me it’s the only option.

my response…..

So gaining weight it is! Gotcha doc.

eat-all-of-the-food

But he failed to tell me something that could be very important to my health long-term…

my blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine (not creatine you gym junkies) were HIGH.

Curious little me did some research. What I learned was…

Urea is made when protein is broken down in the body. This also is an indicator of how your kidneys and liver are working. Causes of a high BUN is heart failure, dehydration, and a high protein diet. Well, I haven’t had heart failure and I drink well around 64 oz of fluids a day. Oh, but I’m sitting there eating a protein bar with yogurt just because “gains” right?

Creatinine relates to BUN as it shows how well the kidneys are working. Having high creatinine is a sign that the kidneys are not working properly.

Well damn.

But it all makes sense. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one out there that has fallen victim to buying a shit ton of protein bars, powders and supplements because it’s what you need for building muscle, right?! Well…. what about your kidneys?

Yes, it is science that protein consumption increases muscle synthesis. But what if you are over-doing it?

I think of all the other women out there that live their lives everyday not eating protein bars, protein cookies, protein pancakes, and protein shakes for their snacks every single day. They live perfectly fine and they still seem to be in shape and have muscle.

What I get from all this is as long as you are eating a good amount of protein from a variety of whole foods such as beans, meat, yogurt, cheese, etc. then why are we supplementing so much? I am so glad I did my own background research to see what I was doing. And I am surprised he did not mention this to me.

                      

Am I going to completely cut protein bars and powders from my diet? No. I am going to limit them. I will use them if it’s after a workout and I don’t have time to make a full meal. Maybe I’ll have a quest bar if I REALLY crave it, but by no means will I keep eating them day after day. I am going to focus on just eating whole foods and change my snacks up a bit. I am not a “clean” eater by all means but instead of a protein bar, maybe I’ll have an apple with peanut butter… popcorn, trail mix, a REAL non-protein cookie instead.

And I will be just fine. I don’t expect my body to change much from this. If it does, it doesn’t really matter. My overall health is what matters. I would love to have healthy kidneys that last me my whole life.

I really hope that whoever reads this really considers how much extra protein you are eating and what that could do for you in the long run. We are set out to believe it’s the best macro nutrient out there but just like anything else, moderation is key.

I love to hear any thoughts/comments/concerns so hit me up! 😉

emlove814@gmail.com

Apple Oatmeal Squares

If you are someone that likes to snack or is on-the-go a lot, then I guess we have a lot in common…. familiar with the case of the hangry? Been there, don’t that, no bueno.

That’s exactly why I got crackin in the kitchen (lol is that even a saying?) I rummaged through what I could find.. oats… apple sauce… nut butter… oh my! But sadly no pumpkin. Curse my grocery store for not selling it in the summer. And sadly no chocolate either. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?!?

The good news is that these bars that were made with love and care are pretty fricken good if you ask me. Soft, moist (HA), and lightly sweetened with agave and apple. BRAVA.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 T chia seed
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed (the powder not the seeds)
  • 4 oz unsweetened applesauce or 1 mashed banana
  • 6 T agave syrup or honey
  • 2-3 T almond butter
  • 12 oz almond or cashew milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • About 5-10 drops liquid stevia or other sweetener *optional

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then combine the wet into another small bowl and whisk. Add the wet to the dry, stirring until no clumps. You can add dried fruit or nuts if that’s yo thing!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and add in the batter. Smooth out evenly and put in the oven for about 40 minutes. The edges should be a little golden. Allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes before cutting! Makes 9 squares 🙂


 

 

Birthday Weekend Recap

Here I am, dreaming about this delicious white chocolate cake batter froyo with nutter butters, cookie dough, Reese’s, and almonds as I sit here (froyoless).

As some of you may know, my birthday was yesterday and to celebrate, my parents took me to Chattanooga for the weekend! Now remember that I haven’t had a “vacation” this whole summer because of working full time at Cracker Barrel (thank the heavens I am done).

Saturday we spent touring Ruby Falls which is basically an underground waterfall that you have to walk about a mile inside a mountain to see. Quite fascinating and very chilly under there!

We then visited Lookout Mountain. This is me and my silly dad who took several tries before successfully smiling in this picture.

 

 

 

And this is my momma and I at the restaurant we stuffed our mouths with delicious pasta and chicken!

img_6253The next day we went to Chattanooga Aquarium! I haven’t been there since middle school but it was definitely an euphoric adventure. Didn’t take that many pictures because my battery was low but I will say that the otters were my favorite part 🙂

Here’s ya girl with a butterfly. I laugh because the only reason it’s on my finger is because it had a broken wing… We the same.

Overall, my mentality this weekend was amazing. I didn’t give a damn what I ate and didn’t track a thing. Not once did I exercise because the walking around we did and that’s okay. No matter who you are, you deserve to fully enjoy a weekend away. No stress or worries about the future, just focus on the present. Laugh, try new things, explore, and be there with your loved ones. I am proud of the progress I have made this past year and thrilled to see how it will be next year.

So tell me,

What is your ideal weekend getaway?

Ultimate froyo topping?

What I’ve Been Loving Lately

I’ve been taking time lately to appreciate the little things I am blessed with.

What has been making me happy?

pupp

  1. My puppy. I was home by myself for a weekend and she kept me company and we cuddled and watched movies together. Talk about a great best friend.

 

 

2.Our new hammock! We have been wanting to get one for a while and we finally did. It really is so peaceful and calming.

hammock

3. Maple Sunflower Seed Butter. Yes, so much yes. If you haven’t had sunflower seed butter before it’s exactly how you would expect it to taste- like sunflower seeds. Except it’s creamy and this one has a sweet and salty touch! Perfection on my oatmeal ❤

maple

4. Generosity. If you don’t know by now I am a waitress and a lot of the times I do not get tips from people which really blows since that’s where all my money for the day comes from. The other night I had a really nice couple that made conversation with me and when I went to bus the table once they were done, they gave me $50 in person. I literally didn’t even know what to say. I told them I couldn’t take it considering it was more than their meal but they refused to take it back. It’s little things like that seriously can make someone’s day.

5. SUSHI. Becoming a slow addiction and severe cravings lately. I LOVE the ones with avocado in it like the spicy tuna or salmon roll.

6. Morning naps. I don’t know why but I always wake up super early (like6-6:30 and sometimes even earlier). My body just refuses to sleep past that and it’s sometimes very frustrating. But that doesn’t stop me from taking a morning nap around 10 if needed and feels so refreshing on my days off!

7. Pretty Little Liars. I am a die hard fan of The Walking Dead and OITNB but since I finished those recently, my mom and I have been starting PLL! Only on season 3 but that’s just another reason I can binge watch TV 😉

8. Long nature walks/jogs. Usually I like to go on a long walk with my mom so we can talk and stuff but just this morning I went on a little jog and it felt SO PEACEFUL. Not only was the weather not too hot or humid but it had just rained last night so I could smell the wet asphalt the whole time. I spent that time focusing on my breathing and maintaining a slow, easy pace. I felt like a champ after because if you know me… running isn’t my thing, haha 🙂


 9. High-top converse. I have always been into the low-top look but ever since I got my new white high-tops I really am starting to dig em!

10. Iced Coffee. I have never been a huge caffeine of coffee person but its growing on me. I really appreciate the little boost when needed and cold coffee is just really refreshing. I got a premade one at Walmart because I heard cold brew is a nice blend and it definitely has a kick with 95mg of caffeine!

Tell me,

What’s something YOU are loving lately?

Iced coffee or hot coffee?

Dealing With Not Being The “Small” One

Every day when I look into the mirror, I see a changed woman. I am not longer a girl. I have to unbutton my shorts instead of sliding them on. My clothes fit more snug. I have a little crease where my armpit meets my tank top. I have a new layer protecting my belly.


But all these little things I see in the mirror reflect someone that is strong. No, I’m not egotistical to admit that. I am strong. I never gave up. I didn’t let anorexia take my life. And this is the woman that grew from it.

Sometimes it does make a situation uncomfortable when I look at other girls who look smaller than me. I will admit I let my self-consciousness creep in and it makes me feel insecure. But then I remember that they may be thinking the same thing about me. We often are so critical of ourselves that we forget how other people perceive us. You don’t need to seek reassurance from ANYONE. Instead, learn to do it for yourself. Take control over your own life and own up to it!

I don’t want to be remembered as a small, frail or weak girl. Down the line, being small is not what makes an impact on others lives… not even your own. Being healthy gives you personality, desires, and more passion than any eating disorder will let you have.

So, I’m not the “smallest” girl anymore. When people see me, they would have never known what I had gone through, and that is absolutely refreshing. Because I am not my past. I will not make my past or recovery my lifestyle. I am who I am today and from here on out I will always be striving to be a better version of myself. I will find new passions and hobbies. I will make a shit ton of mistakes but I will pick myself up and try again.

I am relearning to love myself, just as when I was a little kid. Remember those days? When the little pooch on your stomach never crossed your mind? When all you looked forward to was getting an extra scoop of ice cream with your family? When you had the most self-confidence and spoke your mind like most little kids do? Not saying you have to be a little kid or the person you were before, just know that you CAN recreate yourself and be happy, regardless of your size.

 

Balancing Mental & Physical Well-being

Hey guys! I decided to pop in and give a little update on myself since it’s been a hot minute since I blogged. Something I have been really trying to work on lately is my mental and physical well-being and trying to figure out what is right for ME.

For years I spent my time scrolling through social media and the Web to figure out what exactly “healthy” meant. Was it going for a run every day? Lifting weights 5 times a week? Eating only chicken and broccoli? Counting macros?

Want to know what I learned from all of this? Healthy means something different for each individual.

To me, health isn’t just what you are doing, it’s also about what you are thinking and saying. To me, eating only chicken, egg whites and veggies isn’t healthy- for my own physical and mental well-being. For me, running a lot is not healthy simply because I don’t really love it nor should I be doing it until I figure out what’s wrong with my hormones.

Right now healthy means doing what I TRULY want. If that means lounging around all day,

mac

so be it. If that means eating a box of mac and cheese to myself for lunch,

so be it. I am tired of feeling like I “SHOULD” be doing something that is working for someone else.

Life is about discovery, adventure, and experiences. Not wasting your time trying to mold yourself to be like someone else. I am trying to do what fulfills ME for once.

What my workouts have consisted of this week:

Monday: chest/triceps/core

Tuesday: long trail walk with some jogging

Wednesday: back/biceps

Thursday: rest/stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: 45 leg workout with my mom (still sore…)

Sunday: leisurely swimming in my pool

May not seem like much to some people but I’m not here to try to impress anyone. I don’t like to workout on days that I go to work in the morning because my job is mentally and physically draining and I do not have the energy for it.

shop

Excuse me while I laugh my ass off at this typical “fit girl” pose… lighting was flattering.

Mentally I have been up & down. I still sometimes struggle with being lazy on some days but I know that rest is very important and so is keeping stress levels down.

So tell me…

What is something you truly love to do?

Who is someone you love to workout with?