Tag

High Protein

This is one of my absolute favorite dishes of all time. It’s hot and comforting, yet refreshing and energizing. You almost can’t place the cuisine – is it Mediterranean with the sun-dried tomatoes and lemon zest? Is it Southeast Asian with it’s coconut, garlic, ginger combo? Is it Indian in it’s curry-like beginnings? Coconut-Braised Chickpea Stew | SPIRITPLATE
I think that’s what makes this dish wholesome year-round: sun-dried tomatoes and lemon zest evoke the end of summer, and the garlic-ginger-coconut milk warmth evokes the height of winter. So get to it – anytime is a perfect time for this creamy bowl of goodness. Coconut-Braised Chickpea Stew | SPIRITPLATE The trick here is two-fold: sweating the onions slowly without oil in a bit of broth to get a rich base, and then toasting the chickpeas before adding the coconut milk to get a nice texture from the beans. Coconut-Braised Chickpea Stew | SPIRITPLATE Don’t skimp on the ginger powder and extra lemon at the end – it’s what really makes this dish zing!
Coconut-Braised Chickpea Stew | SPIRITPLATE

Coconut-Braised Chickpeas
Serves 6
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
408 calories
51 g
0 g
18 g
17 g
13 g
230 g
175 g
10 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
230g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 408
Calories from Fat 151
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18g
28%
Saturated Fat 13g
63%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 175mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 51g
17%
Dietary Fiber 14g
56%
Sugars 10g
Protein 17g
Vitamin A
77%
Vitamin C
43%
Calcium
14%
Iron
45%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 red onion, finely diced
  2. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  4. 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  5. 1 large organic lemon, zested and juiced
  6. 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
  7. 2 cups cooked chickpeas**
  8. 1/2 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
  9. 1/2 lb fresh spinach
  10. 1 can coconut milk (14 oz)***
  11. 1 tsp ground ginger
  12. sea salt, to taste
  13. freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  14. 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional garnish)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large dutch oven or deep sauté pan over medium heat and then add onions, a tablespoon of broth, and a good pinch of salt. Let the onions sweat for about 10 minutes or until translucent, adding a few tablespoons of broth at a time to prevent sticking. Once soft, add the garlic and ginger and let cook for 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and chili flakes. Let cook for another minute or so.
  2. Next, add the chickpeas and stir to coat in the tomato mixture. Turn up the heat slightly and toast the chickpeas a bit, 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on them though so they don't scorch; you just want them to have a little color. Use a tablespoon of broth if needed to prevent sticking.
  3. Once the chickpeas are heated through, turn the heat down slightly and start to add the spinach, a handful at a time. Note: If using baby spinach you can add it as is. If you are using regular spinach, you will need to chop or tear it up a bit.
  4. Once the first bunch of spinach has started to wilt, add in the next handful. Continue until all of the spinach has been added.
  5. To finish the dish, add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Stir to combine and then add the ground ginger and a bit of the reserved lemon juice. Taste for seasoning. Add more lemon juice, salt and/or pepper as needed.
  6. Once everything has heated through, serve immediately. (The spinach will start to lose its color and it won't look as nice.) Serve over sweet potato, brown rice, or any grain of your choice. Garnish each plate with cilantro and enjoy!
Notes
  1. * - Soak dried tomatoes in water for 15 minutes to plump them up. Alternatively, if using sun-dried tomatoes stored in oil, simply drain, rinse and pat dry tomatoes.
  2. ** - 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can (15oz)
  3. *** - You can you light or full-fat coconut milk. The former is lower in fat and will give you a broth-type consistency while the latter has more fat but will also be more creamy.
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calories
408
fat
18g
protein
17g
carbs
51g
more
Adapted from The Kitchn and Rouxbe
SPIRITPLATE http://spiritplate.com/

This week, I’m posting two, yes TWO, Thanksgiving recipes everyday! Prepping for Thanksgiving is no easy task. You’ve got to pick your menu, make your grocery list, buy all your ingredients (and God forbid you forget something!), prep each dish the night before, and then cook ALL day to ensure everything gets done at the same time for your hangry family. Let’s not talk about the cleanup that follows!

Vegan Sour Cream & Onion Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Country-Style Gravy | SPIRITPLATE
Then, when you think about those traditional dishes you’re consuming, well the average person consumes 4,500 calories during their Thanksgiving meal (twice the daily intake for most people!) and 229 grams of fat – that’s 3.5 times the recommended daily allowance which most nutritionists argue is too high already!*

So knowing how much hard work goes into preparing the one meal, and how much havoc said meal then wreaks on your body, it’s no wonder people fall into a food coma.

That’s why I’m posting two recipes everyday this week to provide healthier options for Thanksgiving sides WITHOUT sacrificing flavor. 

First up, mashed potatoes. I used the Creamy French-Style Treeline Treenut Cheese in Scallion to give a rich sour cream and onion flavor to my mashed potatoes. You can find this cheaper (about $7) at your local Whole Foods. Trust me, it is worth it! The cheese has the texture of cream cheese or goat cheese but with the tangy nuance of sour cream and a bold onion flavor. It is PERFECT for mashed potatoes. 

Vegan Sour Cream & Onion Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Country-Style Gravy | SPIRITPLATE

I choose to leave the skin on because 1) I love the texture, 2) extra nutrients, and 3) it looks pretty! You can use any potato here, but I just used two large russet potatoes as that’s what I had on hand.Vegan Sour Cream & Onion Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Country-Style Gravy | SPIRITPLATE

To get the right buttery creaminess, I used almond milk, the cashew cheese, and vegan butter. (Obviously, if you are allergic to nuts, please do not use the milk or cheese I’ve mentioned here. I would instead use the vegan butter and your favorite herbs to flavor the potatoes.)

Now, none of these are low in fat, but they are all entirely free of cholesterol and have the added nutrients found in the nuts like vitamins E and B2, and minerals copper, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium and zinc.

Use a little bit of the starchy water left over from boiling the potatoes to add more creaminess to your potatoes without adding fat. 

Vegan Sour Cream & Onion Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Country-Style Gravy | SPIRITPLATENext up, the country-style mushroom gravy. Now, I don’t know about you but I never liked the brown gravies made from the stock and giblets of the turkey. On Thanksgiving or any other day, I prefer the thicker, country-style gravy. I used to create this using one of those just-add-water McCormick packets that used ridiculous amounts of salt. Now I make my own gravy using mushrooms for a wonderful savory umami flavor. 

Choose your favorite mushroom, and sauté them until all the liquid is released then evaporated. Add a splash of your favorite wine, salt and pepper (don’t worry, the alcohol evaporates and there will be no alcohol content in the gravy) and once the wine reduces, sprinkle in some cornstarch. Add almond milk (or soy, or rice, whatever is your favorite) and some broth, plus your favorite herbs or spices and simmer until thickened. I like to add a spoonful of the Treeline cheese to the gravy when adding the milk and broth, to give it a complimentary flavor to the potatoes, but that is entirely optional. Blend the whole mixture in a high-speed blender, and you’re left with a rich and creamy country-style gravy. SUPER easy and takes no time at all. 

Both of these recipes are incredibly versatile, as are the other recipes coming your way this week!

I hope you’ll include just one entirely plant-based side at your Thanksgiving this year. The benefits of including a lighter option far outweigh any inconvenience! Happy cooking! 

Vegan Sour Cream and Onion Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
141 calories
24 g
5 g
4 g
3 g
2 g
138 g
33 g
1 g
0 g
2 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
138g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 141
Calories from Fat 34
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
6%
Saturated Fat 2g
8%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 5mg
2%
Sodium 33mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 24g
8%
Dietary Fiber 2g
7%
Sugars 1g
Protein 3g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
12%
Calcium
3%
Iron
8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 large russet potatoes or about 12 small redskin potatoes
  2. 1 tbsp Earth Balance butter
  3. 1 sprig rosemary
  4. 3 tbsp Treeline Cashew Cheese
  5. 3 tbsp almond milk (or soy or rice)
  6. 1/4 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  7. 1/4 tsp onion powder (optional)
  8. salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a pot of water on high heat to a boil.
  2. Wash potatoes but do not peel. Dice into 3/4-inch cubes. Add the potatoes to to the pot of water and cook until done, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat up the butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Add the rosemary sprig to the butter and set aside.
  4. Reserve a 1/2 cup of the boiling water, then drain the rest.
  5. Mash potatoes in the pot, pressing down with a twist of the wrist to break up the potato.
  6. Add the cream cheese, almond milk, spices, and the melted rosemary butter (remove the sprig).
  7. Stir together until creamy. If your potatoes aren't creamy enough, add the starchy water a few tablespoons at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
  8. Adjust seasonings, then serve hot with Country-style Mushroom Gravy.
Notes
  1. Tip: Use an ice cream scoop to serve your mashed potatoes, giving them height and dimension for a truly irresistible elegant look!
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calories
141
fat
4g
protein
3g
carbs
24g
more
SPIRITPLATE http://spiritplate.com/
Country-Style Mushroom Gravy
Serves 6
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
69 calories
8 g
0 g
2 g
4 g
0 g
241 g
185 g
4 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
241g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 69
Calories from Fat 12
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2g
2%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 185mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates 8g
3%
Dietary Fiber 2g
9%
Sugars 4g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
5%
Calcium
5%
Iron
4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 10-12 baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  2. 1 tsp olive oil
  3. 1 tsp corn starch
  4. splash of your favorite wine
  5. salt and pepper, to taste
  6. 1 sprig rosemary or sage
  7. 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  8. 1/4 tsp onion powder
  9. 1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
  10. 1 cup vegetable broth
  11. 1/2 cup almond milk
  12. 1 tbsp Treeline Scallion Cashew Cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized non-stick skillet at medium-high heat.
  2. Add mushrooms and saute until softened and all liquid is evaporated - about 10 minutes.
  3. Add salt, pepper, and splash of wine. Wait until the wine bubbles away, then add the rosemary or sage and all the spices. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the cornstarch all over the mushrooms and toss to coat, until no chunks remain.
  4. Stir in the cashew cheese, if using. Add the almond milk and vegetable broth. Simmer until thickened, about 7 minutes.
  5. Remove rosemary or sage sprig. Add mixture to blender and blend on high for 30 seconds or until completely smooth.
  6. Serve over mashed potatoes or use as base for green bean casserole!
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calories
69
fat
2g
protein
4g
carbs
8g
more
SPIRITPLATE http://spiritplate.com/
*According to University of Utah Health Care.

It is such a cold, dreary morning here in Dallas. I’ve got my fireplace lit, my fluffy socks on, and dare-I-say-it? Dean Martin’s holiday record on. Perfect Cold Weather Chili | SPIRITPLATE There are two things I always want, straight after Halloween. One is Christmas music. The second is chili.Perfect Cold Weather Chili | SPIRITPLATE Chili just screams to me THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING. It’s the perfect bridge between Fall and Winter. Hot, spicy, and filling, chili is just so nourishing and comforting. One bite warms me from my head to my toes! Perfect Cold Weather Chili | SPIRITPLATEWhat makes this one even better is that it’s my mom-in-law’s recipe. She is one phenomenal cook!

So whip up a batch before your next football game. Cuddle up with a steaming bowl and some crackers. Freeze the rest for the next time you’re craving fresh, piping hot spicy chili!

Perfect Cold Weather Chili
Serves 8
A veganized high-protein chili, perfectly spiced for colder weather.
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
2 hr
163 calories
26 g
0 g
5 g
7 g
1 g
294 g
845 g
5 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
294g
Servings
8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 163
Calories from Fat 39
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
7%
Saturated Fat 1g
3%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 845mg
35%
Total Carbohydrates 26g
9%
Dietary Fiber 9g
36%
Sugars 5g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
24%
Vitamin C
64%
Calcium
8%
Iron
16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 Tbsp olive oil
  2. 3 medium onions, diced
  3. 6 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  5. 1 Tbsp chili powder
  6. 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1/2 tsp salt (or as needed)
  8. black pepper, to taste
  9. 1 bell pepper, diced
  10. 2 cups Gardein Beefless Ground (optional)*
  11. 1 7-oz can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce**
  12. 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
  13. 2 cups vegetable broth***
  14. 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  15. 1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  16. 2-3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  17. 1/2 avocado, diced
  18. squeeze of lime
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in oregano, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
  3. Add bell pepper. Saute until bell pepper is browned. Add beefless crumbles if using and saute until lightly browned.
  4. Add chipotle chilies and adobo sauce, diced tomatoes, and broth. Stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Add beans, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Let simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. Check and adjust spices to your liking.
  8. Serve hot, topped with fresh cilantro, avocado, and a squeeze of lime.
Notes
  1. * - You may use any other soy crumble, or omit altogether. I like the texture and added protein, but you can leave it out if you're not a fan.
  2. ** - The chilies in the can usually come in halves. You may need to diced them up. Be sure to use both the adobo sauce and the chilies!
  3. *** - I like Not Chick'n bouillon cubes, that can be found in most grocery stores.
  4. Jazz up your chili by adding an ounce of dark chocolate or espresso for depth OR a dash of vegan worcestershire sauce for salty complexity OR diced sweet potato or pumpkin for sweet heartiness.
  5. Please note the protein count below is incorrect. It does not include the Gardein Beefless Ground which is 12g of protein per 1/2 cup. One cup of this chili contains over 30g of protein!
Adapted from Dallas Morning News
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calories
163
fat
5g
protein
7g
carbs
26g
more
Adapted from Dallas Morning News
SPIRITPLATE http://spiritplate.com/

Hot and hearty, generously spiced with a light sweetness and a delicate crunch — perfect for a rainy autumn afternoon. Hearty Stuffed Acorn Squash | SPIRITPLATEThis is one of those amazing dishes that is so easy, you just have to let it sit and let the heat do it’s own thing. It’s also extremely versatile; you can use whatever flavor profile you like!Hearty Stuffed Acorn Squash | SPIRITPLATEHere, I’ve used Indian flavors, with curry powder, cumin, coriander, and ginger. I’ve made this several times, all with different flavors – lemongrass, galangal, with cilantro and basil for Thai, or jalapeno, oregano, and paprika for a Mexican spin, or even added tomato paste, rosemary and basil for an Italian flair. The flavors are entirely up to you.
Hearty Stuffed Acorn Squash | SPIRITPLATE
Hearty Stuffed Acorn Squash | SPIRITPLATE
Hearty Stuffed Acorn Squash | SPIRITPLATEDoesn’t this just look so cozy?!Hearty Stuffed Acorn Squash | SPIRITPLATE

Hearty Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 4
Filling and flavorful stuffed acorn squash is an elegant addition to your holiday table.
Print
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 15 min
314 calories
48 g
0 g
11 g
12 g
4 g
416 g
204 g
4 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
416g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 314
Calories from Fat 96
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 4g
19%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 204mg
9%
Total Carbohydrates 48g
16%
Dietary Fiber 11g
42%
Sugars 4g
Protein 12g
Vitamin A
112%
Vitamin C
56%
Calcium
18%
Iron
25%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 2 tsp coconut oil, divided
  2. 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  3. 1 small thumb ginger, minced (optional)
  4. 1 cup onions, diced
  5. 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed*
  6. 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  7. 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, sliced
  8. 1-1 1/2 cup red kidney beans**
  9. 2 small acorn squash
  10. 2 sprigs parsley or cilantro
  11. 1 1/2 tablespoon spices of your choice***
  12. 1/2 cup cashews****
  13. salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Wash the outsides of the two acorn squashes and using a sharp knife, divide each squash into two equal halves. Scrape out the seeds and score the inner flesh with shallow cuts.
  3. Take 1 tsp of coconut oil in your hands and rub the oil generously all over each half. Sprinkle each half with salt and place open side down on a dark baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 1 hour or more until very tender.
  5. While the squash is baking, heat a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tsp coconut oil. Add the onions, a pinch of salt, and sweat for 10 minutes or until soft and translucent - careful not to brown at all.
  6. Add the garlic and sweat for another 2 minutes. Then add your choice spices, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes. Keep sweating for 15 minutes, until everything has softened and the mixture is fragrant.
  7. While the mixture is sweating, toast the cashews in a separate small pan set to medium high heat. Toss the cashews in your choice seasoning then add them to the hot pan. Keep moving them around to prevent burning and ensure even toasting. Once golden brown and fragrant remove from heat, and set aside.
  8. Back in your main pan, add the spinach and toss in the onion tomato mixture to coat evenly. Cook until heated through. Fold in the kidney beans and let heat through. Taste for salt.
  9. Crush your toasted cashews and chop up your cilantro, parsley, or other herb.
  10. Check your squash. If it is fork tender, carefully remove from pan and set open face up on a plate. Fill each crevice generously with your pan mixture.
  11. Top each squash half with crushed cashews and chopped herbs. Serve piping hot.
Notes
  1. * - I like using frozen spinach here, because I know it is more fresh and I don't mind the texture as it will be cooked down anyway. If using fresh, triple the amount.
  2. ** - For more flavor, make your own beans! Soak the beans overnight, and then boil the next day over medium high heat for 45 minutes or until tender with your choice seasonings. The beans will absorb whatever flavors you put into the boiling liquid. Here I used salt, ginger, bay leaf, and fenugreek seeds.
  3. *** - This recipe is extremely versatile. I have made the squash Thai style with lemongrass, galangal, and cilantro, Mexican style with jalapeno, oregano and paprika, and Italian style with more tomato, rosemary, and basil. Here I've made curried squash, using curry powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, and ginger.
  4. **** - When toasting the cashews, use whatever seasoning you have chosen for the squash. Here I tossed them with salt and curry powder.
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calories
314
fat
11g
protein
12g
carbs
48g
more
SPIRITPLATE http://spiritplate.com/

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but was quite unsure how well it would be received. Talking about fitness, diet, and even weight loss is always such a touchy subject, and even I’m feeling nervous posting my progress photos for the world to see! I truly believe, though, that our struggles are often more similar than they are different, and if even one person can benefit from seeing my struggles laid out, then I think I can feel pretty good about that. SO. Here goes nothing.

MY BACKGROUND

My goal has always been to get stronger. I’ve always been a terrible dieter – I can never keep to any kind of short term regimen! And my spine history meant I always lived a sedentary lifestyle, never truly being an active person.

Until recently. After college, I decided I wanted to get fit. I wanted to aggressively rehab my spine, and superficially, I was always insecure about my “back fat” – which probably isn’t so much back fat as it’s just so much excess skin built up from being hunched over all my life. 

Gosh, this is hard to talk about. *Deep breath!*

I’m 5 foot nothing and quite curvy. I’ve never been massively overweight, but no one could ever call me thin either. I’ve always been…squishy.  My arms and legs are narrow, but my torso, hips, and bum always carry the majority of my weight much like the rest of my family. I’ve been about 103-5 pounds since I was 12, which I’ve come to realize is my comfort weight; I return to this weight naturally, no matter how active I am or how my food choices vary throughout the year. 103-105 is what I call my equilibrium weight.

So, I decided I wanted to get stronger, more flexible. I wanted more energy and I wanted to tone up enough to tighten the skin around my torso.  I enlisted the help of a private physical trainer. I went to Fitness Together (now Infinity Personal Training) and worked 1-on-1 with a trainer for a year before I got married. I didn’t gain or lose any weight at this time, though my body fat percentage went from over 26% to about 23%, and I felt SO MUCH stronger.

Until I got married.

At my wedding I was still the usual 103. One year later I was 111!

Now, some people say you should not to look at the scale, to measure your health and weight in other ways like from the way clothes feel, or how much body fat percentage you have, or by measuring to the inch the circumference of your arms, legs, belly, etc. Some people are right!

On its own, the number on a scale gives you nothing, no relevant information, unless you pair it with other information: your height, for instance, or other bodily measurements, your energy levels, your digestion, your ability or inability to do certain exercises, your flexibility, and a lot more.

So considering the way clothes fit me, the circumference of my belly (and other places), my height, and my weight overtime, I knew I had gained weight that was over my equilibrium state. According to the Body Mass Index chart, I was still considered within a healthy weight range for my height, but boy did I feel the difference! My joints felt the added pressure and my spine health began deteriorating again. I knew for my medical history, my self-knowledge about my body, that this weight was going to be detrimental to my health in terms of increased back pain and low energy – unless, of course, this added weight were pure muscle, which it wasn’t. 

A year later, about 10 months into actively trying to return to my equilibrium weight, I am now 104 lbs and just under 23% BF, and I feel incredibly better. My energy is back, I feel I can stand or sit or be active for hours before feeling any joint fatigue. And finally, finally, I can see a small difference in the skin of my back. 

My Fitness Journey | SPIRITPLATEBut what caused this weight gain, and shift in lifestyle? For one, hormones. Aly and I were now married, and our relationship *ahem* had changed, so my hormones were now behaving differently, thus regulating the way I processed nutrients differently. I was also taking the chef course at Rouxbe at this time; I was making lots of food and trying not to waste it by eating more leftovers than maybe I could have handled. And then I got a desk job; I was sitting all day, completely killing my metabolism.

So after feeling more and more miserable inside and out, from looking at recent photos and thinking ‘when did my face get so round?’ to feeling fatigued and achy all the time, I decided I needed to change something. 

EXERCISE

At the start of this year I started eating better. I reduced my fried foods and sweets. I took lunch to work, made sure I parked my car far, went for evening walks with Aly (my chiropractor had said no running or jumping) and increased my water intake. I began recording my weight and body fat percentage using our FitBit Aria Scale. By February I lost 2 lbs. Great! But I didn’t feel much better and I hit a plateau going into spring.

In May, I decided to do Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide (BBG). It’s a 12-week training program that uses predominantly your own body weight as part of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I highly, highly recommend it. I’ve never been active in this way: really devoting 30-45 minutes every day 5x a week. My spine improved dramatically. I felt stronger and leaner everyday. The community built around the BBG is incredible, with women all over the world supporting each other and cheering each other on.  Unfortunately, I also managed to injure myself after completing only 8 weeks. I landed wrong on a split lunge and completely threw out my right hip. This was exactly what my chiropractor had told me not to do (jumping). I was just too eager and excited to continue the guide after seeing results in just a few short weeks. I’ve now resolved to listen to her when she tells me to take it slow!

A week after I hurt my hip, I was going to leave for international travel for a whole month. So while I did not continue to workout aggressively through July and August, I did walk a lot and stretch, trying to keep my muscles healthy with magnesium supplements and electronic pulse massage therapy. This helped immensely.

When I returned, around mid-August, I wasn’t allowed to return to Kayla’s guide. I took up mild yoga instead, stretching about 2-3x a day, and just walked whenever I had the opportunity, never pushing too hard. This seemed to set me up in a good rhythm, and that’s where I’m at now.

My Fitness Journey | SPIRITPLATE

(I have never been able to do a backbend in my life. I finally managed to do Wheel Pose this summer!)

DIET AND NUTRITION

As far as diet goes, I’ve eaten the same since the New Year:

  • I eat plant-based whole foods, as in no processed foods, except the occasional vegan cheese or tofu-based proteins. Once or twice a month I may eat something like oreos or cookies or chips. 
  • I eat three large meals, with minimal snacking in between, and I never skip breakfast.
  • I don’t drink sodas (never been a fan) and I don’t eat fast food. I will eat out occasionally (once every week and a half to two weeks).
  • My only caffeine consists of one cup of coffee every morning, black with a little agave. No caffeine after 2PM.
  • Most days, I eat dinner between 5-7PM, and sleep by 11PM. Before bed, I have a glass of hot water with turmeric and honey mixed in. If I’m hungry by bedtime, I’ve taken to mixing the turmeric and honey in hot almond milk instead of water. This usually satisfies me enough to fall asleep.
  • I generally have a large serving (or three!) of a dark leafy green or colorful vegetable with every meal.
  • I usually don’t have fruit after noon, I don’t drink alcohol regularly, and if I crave sweets I typically satisfy myself with a couple squares of dark chocolate. 
  • I never eat salad with a dressing; I use only salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

A typical day’s worth of food looks something like this:

After Waking:
Water + Black Coffee + Vitamins
Breakfast:
Homemade Banana Nut Muffin + Green Smoothie
OR
Soy or Coconut Yogurt, Banana & Granola/Muesli
OR
Mashed Avocado on Toast with Sauteed Mushrooms
Lunch:
Grain + Green + Bean
(i.e. Daal, Roti, Pickled Carrots or Kidney Beans, Rice, Spinach)
OR
Soup + Salad
OR
Tofurky Sandwich with Arugula
Dinner:
Sweet Potato, Kale Salad, Beans
OR
Grain + Green + Bean
(i.e. Pasta with Arugula and Chickpeas or Bean Tacos + Spring Mix)
OR
Veggie Curry with Rice/Roti
Before Bed:
Turmeric and Honey in Hot Milk or Water

This system seems to be working for me. The probiotics in the vitamins and occasional yogurt have helped stabilize my stomach and reduce bloating. The turmeric honey mixture has been helping with my allergies and daily aches and pains resulting from my spine. The grain+green+bean idea ensures I get nutritionally dense foods, am balanced in my carb-protein-veggie intake, and avoid fried foods or high-fat sauces/dips. And of course the green smoothies – usually coconut water, banana, kale or spinach, and whatever fruit I’m craving, plus this protein powder – help to ensure I’m getting important vitamins and minerals. 

To see more examples of what I eat daily, you can follow me on Snapchat: ndjuma.

MY PROGRESS

I mentioned earlier that I kept a record of my weight, body fat, measurements, etc as the year went on. I weighed myself once every month or so on our Aria scale which sends electrical pulses through your feet to determine your body fat percentage. I wrote all this down in a note on my iPhone that I could access easily.

(**Keep in mind, I am 5′ tall. so 100-110 lbs is within normal Body Mass Index for me. I could be completely ripped at 120 lbs and 15% body fat. Or I could be 25% body fat at 105 lbs. Dipping below 100 lbs is not an option for me, as either way you slice it, I’d be underweight. Be sure to look up your BMI (here) to ensure you’re at a healthy weight for your height. I do NOT recommend someone who is 5’6 for example attempting to get to 100-105 lbs. There is no way, no matter what BF percentage, that that is a healthy option!**)

You can see my recordings below:

Date – Pounds – %BodyFat – Clothing Size || Activity or Diet Changes

Dec 31 – 111.1 – 26.0% – S/4 || New Year 
Feb 04 – 109.5 – 25.4% – S/4 || Walking, reduced fat and sweets, eating early dinner.
May 01 – 108.7 – 24.4% – S/4 || Start of Kayla Itsine’s BBG. 
May 25 – 108.1 – 24.1% – S/2 || BBG Week 4
Jun 08 – 107.4 – 23.7% – S/2 || BBG Week 6
Jun 25 – 105.9 – 23.4% – XS/0 || BBG Week 8
Jul 20 – 105.8 – 23.6% – XS/0 || Traveling; walking, stretching. 
Aug 20 – 105.0 – 23.7% – XS/0 || Mild yoga, stretching.
Sep 15 – 105.7 – 23.2% – XS/00 || Mild yoga, walking, stretching, no desk job. Increased greens.
Oct 10 – 104.3 – 22.9% – XS/00 || Mild yoga, smoothie challenge in October.

And now for my progress shots.

Please understand that showing these images takes a lot of courage. I am very proud of my progress, but it’s also highly nerve-racking to show it!

Be kind, haha. 

My Fitness Journey | SPIRITPLATEDetails on these images:

  • I took these pictures in the mornings, after a glass of water, a glass of coffee (a natural diuretic), and a bathroom break. (Always go #2 in the morning to get the least bloated image of yourself when taking progress photos!) 
  • There are variations in the images based on phone and lighting quality and the height of my hand taking the picture. I have not photoshopped my stomach; you can see my terrible photoshop skills on where I’ve tried to erase the overlapping pictures to make space for my bum, haha.
  • You’ll also notice that my lack of physical exertion (no squats or lunges) recently has reduced my glutes mass from July to October, and my back is not as straight now as it was the May and July shots (less cardio).

The biggest change I see is not in my figure. It’s in my confidence. My lack of fear if someone says, “Let’s go for a hike!” or “Meet me at the gym!” is something I’ve never experienced before. My daily excruciating back pain has reduced significantly. You don’t know how significantly your demeanor changes when you’re no longer in pain. I am happier than I’ve ever been. 

MY FUTURE GOALS

So, how do I feel having made it to this point?

Well, to be honest I felt better in July, before my hip injury. I miss working out; the energy it brings is just so addictive. Being on a regular workout schedule, I felt unstoppable. It was something I never knew I could do before. While I have to take it slower and easier now, I’m not deterred in the slightest. I want to challenge myself to maintain my progress and get even more toned as we get into the holiday season, when I know eating healthy will be more of a challenge, and I’ll just want to hibernate, haha. I am hoping to return to the BBG workouts, and do more advanced yoga in the coming months.

I am so very proud of everything I’ve learned so far about my body and how remarkable it truly is – how quickly it can heal, how much it can really do!

I’ve learned that there isn’t anything that I can’t do if I set my mind to it, that hard work and discipline will get me anywhere I want to go. This is such a massive life lesson.

There is so much more I want to accomplish and the journey doesn’t stop here!

I realize this post didn’t have much ‘educational value’ in terms of cooking, nutrition, or fitness, but I hope this serves as an example that eating clean and exercising regularly can change your life, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And that, well, that’s priceless.

Please leave comments and questions below, I’d love to know your thoughts and how you’re doing on your journey to a happier, healthier you!

Love,
Nabila

Hi guys! Happy second day of Fall!

Today is a not so happy day for me as I’m about to go get all four of my wisdom teeth pulled in a couple hours. They are impacted and are affecting the 4 years of hard work I did on my braces as well as causing major sensitivity to hot and cold, so it’s time to get them removed. Here is my holistic post-op self-treatment, including what I plan to eat. 

Firstly, it’s important to drink lots of liquids.

  1. Water, water, water – water is of course, the biggest aid when it comes to healing. I will be drinking water as much as I can.
  2. Turmeric and honey tea – I do a half teaspoon of turmeric and half a teaspoon of local raw honey in a regular cup filled with hot water. I’ve been drinking this every night for the past few weeks, to help build up immunity for my fall allergies and the upcoming flu season. I plan to continue drinking this every night, though perhaps not as hot as I will be unable to drink very hot or very cold liquids. Honey and turmeric are both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, and thus great for this healing process. 
  3. White willow bark teaWhite willow is a natural pain killer and the source of aspirin. In addition to the painkillers my dentist will prescribe me, I will be sipping on this just once daily, to help with pain management before resorting to the full-strength drugs, if need be. 

Secondly, it’s important to eat nutrients that will facilitate healing.

  1. Yogurt – I went and got non-GMO, soy yogurt for two reasons: proteins, and probiotics. The mild probiotics will help my stomach fight the symptoms of the antibiotics the doctor will prescribe. I also find that my skin breaks out when I’m on antibiotics, so I hope this yogurt and the turmeric tea will help alleviate that.
  2. Green smoothies – Almond milk, banana, kale, spinach, peanut butter, protein powder. I get in my greens, and again, my triumvirate: protein, iron, vitamin K.
  3. Soup – blended black bean soup, tomato soup, and a blended pumpkin or carrot soup. Just onions, spices, some broth, and the bean or veggie sautéed together until softened and then blended to a uniform soup that’ll be easy to consume. These three are high in both iron and vitamin K which is great because those nutrients help your blood congeal and clot – exactly what I need to happen when my gums are healing.
  4. Blended oatmeal with apple sauce – Carbs and fiber to make me feel full after all the liquids. 
  5. Pumpkin pie – So I don’t miss out on the first few days of fall! Silken tofu, pumpkin, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice blended together and baked for a tender crustless pie. Again, very high in protein (6g per 1″slice), vitamins, and minerals, and filling to boot. 
  6. Mashed sweet potato with cashew cream cheese – instead of the regular mashed potato with butter and sour cream, I like this version with more nutrients from the sweet potato. I get the Treeline cultured cashew cream cheese (how’s that for a tongue-twister?!) in the herb and garlic flavor and it is divine on the potato. This is one of my favorites even when I have all my teeth (ha) so I will continue to eat this on my up-and-up.
  7. Jello and Pudding – let’s be real, these are for funsies. I saw vegan versions with no added sugar at the store and wanted to try them. If I really don’t feel like eating anything, at least these will entice my tastebuds and make me feel like a kid again.

I don’t believe in meal plans, but generally, I figure it’ll go something like this:

  • Breakfast – water, white willow bark tea, green smoothie
  • Snack – water, yogurt 
  • Lunch – oatmeal and applesauce 
  • Snack – pumpkin pie
  • Dinner – soup, mashed sweet potato
  • Dessert – jello, turmeric honey tea

No, actually, more like this:

  • Breakfast – pudding
  • Snack – pudding 
  • Lunch – pudding
  • Snack – jello
  • Dinner – jello
  • Dessert – pudding

Well…I’ll be sure to post an update here! 

Thirdly, because I’ll be all banged up and drugged up, I’ll probably want to stay in bed for the first day and a half. To prevent muscle discomfort, and maintain my spine health, I will use:

  1. Electric pulse massager – this is a little remote control looking thing with wires and pads that adhere to the skin, that sends micro electric pulses through your muscles to relax them. I’ve been using this as part of my spine rehabilitation a couple times a week for the last two months, and will continue to do so this weekend, more regularly, focusing on my hips, lower back, and glutes.
  2. Tiger balmthis stuff is uh-MAZING. I will be rubbing it on my sore hips and back, as well as my forehead and temples, as headaches are likely in the aftermath. The tingling sensation of the tiger balm is also a good distraction from the other sensations I’ll be feeling in my mouth and jaw.
  3. Epsom salt soaks and rinses – I plan to take an epsom salt bath on the second day, to pull out the toxins from my tired muscles, and to help me fall asleep. I will also be gently swishing my mouth with epsom salt and warm water to help clean the wounds.

Lastly, while I’m all banged up and drugged up, I’ll really want some good entertainment in bed:

  1. Favorite TV shows and movies – currently, The Good Wife, but I will also catch up on season premieres, and probably watch Chocolat again.
  2. Favorite books – currently I’m reading my Darling magazine and the Brain Pickings blog. Usually when I’m feeling down though, I go to my old guilty pleasure: Harry Potter fanfiction.
  3. Favorite podcast/audio book – I’ve just finished Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins audio book, and have started the On Being podcast.
  4. Favorite apps
    1. Calm.com – 5-20 minute meditations, guided or unguided. I find this helps me manage my back pain, so I’m hoping I can use it to relax after the extractions as well. 
    2. Rain, rain – A series of the sounds of rain – like Rainymood.com but with far more variety – including rain falling on different surfaces, the sounds of traffic or crackling fire or thunder to add on top of your chosen rain sound. This is highly soothing and I play it often while working or before bed. 

This all may seem like quite a bit of maintenance, but it’s all things I’m familiar with any way, things that I find comforting. And really, I feel like people could benefit from a little more self-maintaining! The whole goal of planning this out, is to be sure I’m healthy and up and about far sooner rather than later and not merely coasting by on junk food.

Check back in a few days to see how I did!
Let me know what your remedies are, and what you eat after you get your teeth out! 

Love, 
Nabila 

It has been a while folks. Amidst new homes, new jobs, and new family – it’s been a heck of a ride these past few months. But let us waste no more time and jump right into one of my favorite weeknight meals!

Smoky, savory, spicy. These are the mouthwatering words that come to mind when thinking of this dish. I’m often pressed for time weekdays – right after work, Aly and I workout and then continue working on our own projects until bedtime. We’re always ravenous after the workouts and need something satisfying enough to give us energy to work the rest of the evening. I love that this meal can be prepped in advance and comes together in a surprising ten minutes when I’m ready. One serving has a whopping 19g of protein and only 185 calories – a perfect addition to our workout regiment. 

Now, most people are averse to soy, more often than not because it can be quite bland with an off-putting texture – that is, if you haven’t cooked it right! Soy is high in protein, and like all beans, a great source of fiber and iron. Truly good tofu can be flavorful with a pleasant chewiness and thus a great addition to your diet in terms of both nutrition and variety. You just have to know how to treat it.

First, be sure to press any excess liquid out of the tofu. I slice my block into 1/4″ to 1/3″ thick slices. I lay down a clean kitchen towel and then paper towel, and arrange the slices flat with a little space in between on top. I then add another layer of paper towels, and kitchen towel to essentially sandwich the slices. With a heavy book or pan on top, I leave the slices for about ten minutes to let all the water press out of the tofu and into the towels. Tofu is a sponge; when you press out the water, you allow for other (flavorful) liquids to be absorbed – like this smoky marinade! 

Soy sauce, liquid smoke, garlic, and pepper get absorbed into the pores of the tofu, producing a rich, savory result.

Secondly, and just as crucial, is browning the tofu in either the oven or in a pan so that the edges firm up. This allows the tofu to get more dense and dehydrated so you get the perfect chewy texture. 

And lastly, combine the tofu with other flavors and textures you love. I LOVE rice noodles and shiitake mushrooms, and the simple soy sauce stir-fry pairs so well with the soy-based tofu. Scallions elevate the complexity of the final dish and the liquid smoke adds a unique twist. Of course, where would you be without a dousing of sriracha to top it all off?

Here are my recipes for smoky baked tofu and spicy shiitake rice noodles. Try it and let me know what you think!  

Smoky Tofu
Serves 6
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
50 min
109 calories
4 g
0 g
6 g
12 g
1 g
83 g
848 g
0 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
83g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 109
Calories from Fat 49
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g
9%
Saturated Fat 1g
4%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 848mg
35%
Total Carbohydrates 4g
1%
Dietary Fiber 2g
7%
Sugars 0g
Protein 12g
Vitamin A
5%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
46%
Iron
12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 14oz. package firm tofu*, sliced to 1/4" thick and pressed**
  2. 5 tbsp tamari, soy sauce, or liquid aminos
  3. 1/2 tsp liquid smoke***
  4. 1 tsp garlic powder
  5. freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  6. crushed red pepper, to taste
  7. spray oil for pan
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the tamari, liquid smoke, garlic powder, freshly–ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  3. Place the tofu in a shallow casserole dish and pour the marinade over the tofu. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes, turning the tofu once half way through.
  4. Lightly spray a sheet pan with oil and layout the tofu slabs evenly on the tray.
  5. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Flip, and cook another 10 to 15 minutes until the tofu is browned around the edges. You may broil each side for a minute or two for extra crispness.
  6. Remove, let cool, and slice or crumble to your liking. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use in other recipes.****
Notes
  1. * - Soy, along with corn, is one of the most genetically modified produce in the world with some of the highest pesticide contents. Always use non-GMO, organic tofu whenever possible.
  2. ** - Gently press as much water out of the tofu slices by sandwiching the slabs between paper towels before adding the marinade.
  3. *** - Liquid smoke is easily found at any grocery store - hickory, mesquite, or any other flavor will do. A small bottle will last a long time.
  4. **** - This tofu is great on sandwiches, sauced in a stir-fry, or as part of a buddha bowl.
Adapted from Chad Sarno
beta
calories
109
fat
6g
protein
12g
carbs
4g
more
Adapted from Chad Sarno
SPIRITPLATE http://spiritplate.com/
Shiitake and Tofu Rice Noodles
Serves 6
An easy savory and spicy weeknight meal.
Print
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
76 calories
6 g
0 g
4 g
7 g
1 g
126 g
365 g
1 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
126g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 76
Calories from Fat 32
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
6%
Saturated Fat 1g
3%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 365mg
15%
Total Carbohydrates 6g
2%
Dietary Fiber 2g
7%
Sugars 1g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
6%
Vitamin C
11%
Calcium
25%
Iron
23%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 package brown rice noodles, cooked according to the package instructions
  2. 1 batch (14 oz) smoky baked tofu
  3. 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  4. 1 garlic clove, minced
  5. 8-10 whole shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  6. 4-6 stalks scallions or green onions, chopped and divided*
  7. 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce, or more to taste
  8. crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
  9. sriracha sauce, to taste (optional)
  10. lime wedges (optional)
Instructions
  1. Once your noodles are cooked, toss with a little spray oil to prevent clumping and set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and add the sesame oil.
  3. Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until the water is released.
  4. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until mushrooms are golden brown and onions are limp, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add the tamari or soy sauce.
  6. Once the sauce is heated through (you don't want it all to evaporate), add the noodles and tofu straight into the pan and toss to combine.
  7. The noodles will absorb the soy sauce. Serve hot with scallion, crushed red pepper, sriracha, and a squeeze of lime.
Notes
  1. * - Divide the onions into two piles, dark green tops and white to light green bottoms. Use the bottoms in the pan; use the tops for garnish. Pro tip: Slice at a diagonal for visual appeal.
beta
calories
76
fat
4g
protein
7g
carbs
6g
more
SPIRITPLATE http://spiritplate.com/