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Black Beans!

Black beans have to be the most popular kind of bean. I’m no bean expert, but black beans are in a lot of dishes, and are usually the go to bean for some of the most popular dishes. Filled with fiber, protein and loaded with anti-oxidents, they are a fantastic food to include in your diet.

Beans help fill you up, and will help to keep you feeling satisfied longer. They are great if you are trying to lose weight, or trying to eat a more whole foods diet. Use black beans instead of using animal products, or processed foods.

Also, if  you do not have a pressure cooker yet, get one! They cook black beans in about 3 minutes. They also cook garbanzo beans in 10 minutes… it is my favorite kitchen tool.

Some easy things you can do with black beans: Beans and rice! black beans, brown rice, lots of chopped veggies and salsa. Chili – diced tomatoes (no salt added), chili seasoning, mixed veggies, peppers and black beans.

There are a lot of great recipes that use black beans! What kind of recipes? Well, I just happen to have some awesome recipes that I think you will love, yes, one of them is for brownies.

Tropical Black Bean and Collard Soup

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Vegan Smokey Black Bean and Tofu Enchiladas

Black Bean Hummus

Black Bean and Rice Extravaganza

Black Bean and Qunioa Chili

and last but not least…. Black Bean Brownies! *just a note, I’ve made these using homemade date syrup and gluten free oats and they came out really well!

This week, put some black beans in your shopping cart and enjoy!

 

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The hard part.

Matt and I have been doing this for almost 2 years now – healthy vegan diet free of junk food. It is always amusing the number of reactions we get when we tell people about our life. It’s as if we were war heroes the way some people react, or that we run super marathons of 100 miles EVERY DAY. I don’t really get that reaction, because in all honesty? This is the easiest thing we’ve ever done, compared to the hardships we have gone through in our life. Chances are, you have been through a lot of things in your life that were A LOT harder than making some food changes, you have lost loved ones, you have lost a job, you have had a child, you have suffered from depression, you have made a big move, often we don’t remember that we have been through a lot in our lives, and we have come out okay in the end.

Life for us is kind of awesome because of the way we eat. The hard part was suffering from diabetes, suffering from being tired, suffering from low energy, suffering from knowing that we’d eventually get some sort of horrible disease. The hard part was eating in a way that was cruel, that made no sense when we thought about protecting the Earth. The hard part was knowing that with out a doubt animal protein causes cancer. That was the hard part.

The hard part was making the decision. I can’t even tell you why that was the hard part – maybe our addictions? Maybe being set in our ways, being afraid of what everyone else thought, being afraid of having to defend our desire to be healthy? Whatever it was – we got over it pretty quick. There is just no good reason to consume animals and junk food, yet so many of us fight this so hard, we spend nights thinking about what we can’t eat, what we won’t be able to have at that party. We fight ourselves so much, to battle the right to eat food that causes our bodies tremendous amounts of suffering.

It makes no logical sense in the end – why we fight so much to eat in a way that is hurting our body or why we feed our family foods that will cause them suffering. We fight so hard, to have the “right” to eat poorly, to feed our families food that hurts them, because it seems easier at the time.

Disease is not easy. Having a child that gets type 2 diabetes because of poor eating, is not easy, getting dementia is not easy, suffering is never easy. Making the choice to eat a healthy diet and feed your family a healthy diet? Should NEVER be a hard choice to make, but yet so many of us make it a hard decision to make. We fight with ourselves, we tell ourselves that we deserve the bad food, we tell ourselves that we don’t want to “force” our eating on our kids or family, we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t have to make so many changes, that we should get to do it gradually, over time, we tell ourselves that our kids need ‘treats’, that our family just won’t go on board. But no one ever talks about what happens if we don’t do this.

Yes, it might be hard when we start – you might get huge resistance from your kids and family, you might even get into a fight over all of it. You might be the outcast at that party or the family gathering, you might be mad that you can’t have cake.

But the other side of this? Is something that you need to think about. For the temporary pain of making the change you get a lot more in return. Your kids might hate you for a couple of weeks, but they don’t know that you are helping them prevent getting cancer in their future, your spouse might sleep on the sofa for a few nights because they are mad at you, but they might not realize that you are helping them prevent a future where dementia takes control of their mind, and they don’t remember who you are at all. You might get mad that you have to pass up the cheesecake at the company party, but what you might not realize is that you are preventing future amputations due to complications from diabetes.

The word “hard” is relative. This might seem like a hard lifestyle change, it might even seem impossible. But I can promise you – having a disease that you know you could have prevented in yourself or someone you love? That is a lot harder.

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Spring produce!

Many of you can’t wait for the arrival of spring! It means nicer weather, it means blooming flowers, it means fresh fruits and vegetables! In season produce is the best kind of produce to eat. It’s fresh, flavorful and you can often get it at your local farmers market. So, put some of these on your shopping lists and enjoy some fabulous spring produce!

Asparagus: Asparagus and chickpea casserole

Broccoli: Ginger Broccoli

Carrots: Carrot Cake!

Cherries: Seriously, just eat cherries. They are perfect little pieces of happiness.

Collards: This is my favorite leafy green next to kale! There is a lot you can do with collards – but my favorite thing is collard wraps. Just flash boil the collards, so they will be easier to work with, fill them with your favorite veggies, you can spread hummus over it to give it some extra flavor.

Fava beans: This might be my favorite bean, they are huge and full of flavor. I like them to make hummus with, or to mash up and spread on a wrap.

FennelRoasted fennel (note, you don’t need any olive oil in this one, use parchment paper for roasting in the oven)

Lemons: Make a no fat hummus using garbanzo beans, low sodium vegetable stock and lemon juice from a fresh lemon. Just add in a food processor until it is the texture you like it.

Plums: Low fat plum cobbler

Raspberries: I got this idea from Chef AJ’s cookbook “Unrpocessed’ which you should probably order right away….Just blend raspberries a little raw cacao powder and some dates – it’s a fantastic sweet sauce!

Spinach: Having a hard time getting your kids to have greens? Make “milkshakes”! Spinach is a great green to add to a smoothie – it blends really well and kids never know the difference. Frozen banana, frozen cherries a little non dairy milk and spinach (fresh) tastes like a fantastic milkshake.

Sugar Snap Peas: I love them in salads or just plain, they are great snacks!

Artichokes: Steam them, eat them, that is all. I also love them on a healthy vegan pizza – make a whole wheat crust or a gluten free one (I use Sammi’s millet/flax gluten free crust).

Broccoli Raab: Quinoa with broccoli raab

Garlic: Roast garlic and put it in everything, I love it, and it’s probably because I’m Italian. I also have been known to spread it on millet bread (toasted).

Mangoes: Freeze mangoes (peel and chop them first) stick in blender with a little bit of non dairy milk and you have mango icecream, and you will love me forever. You are welcome.

Mustard GreensRed potato, mustard greens and mushroom saute

Pineapple: I love making “steam fry”, just brown rice, pineapple, diced carrots, diced veggies and some garbanzo beans, it’s like sweet and sour stir fry!

Radishes: Quinoa with roasted radishes

Rhubarb: I’m not sure why they didn’t write “Non dairy milk” in the ingredient list – but use non dairy milk to make this a LOT healthier: Rhubarb breakfast cake

Strawberries: How about this slow-cooker strawberry shortcake oatmeal (I used dates)

Get cooking!

 

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Think that you HAVE to cheat on St.Patricks Day? Think again! Today is your lucky day, because I’ve got a great GREEN St. Patricks day menu all ready for you!

So find the pot of kale at the end of the rainbow, and plan a healthy St.Patricks Day!

How about some green appetizers?

Kiwi and green grape kabobs. Just cube the kiwi and spear it along with green grapes.

Collard Green wraps: boil the collards in water for about 5 minutes, and they will be much easier to use for a wrap. Then, fill with your favorite veggies, some beans, some brown rice and a little green salsa.

A veggie tray with green peppers, broccoli, cucumber, zucchini and guacamole and green salsa as dips, or thisspinach artichoke dip.

And how about some fantastic recipes:

Irish White Bean and Cabbage stew

Dublin Coddle with Vegan Irish Sausage

Vegan Corned beef and cabbage

Whole wheat Irish soda bread

Garbanzo Shepherds Pie

Another Shepherds Pie

and of course – the Shepherds Pie in Engine 2! I like to make it with lentils.

Colcannon Puffs

Oatmeal Raisin cookies

Make this a really green St.Patricks day! And enjoy some healthy plant-strong Irish cuisine!

 

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Eat soup!

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with soup. It’s easy to make, it keeps in the fridge or the freezer forever, it is filling and it can be really healthy. I’m not a big salad person, I try, but I would much prefer my salads in a soup form.

Soup makes a great healthy meal. It is EASY to make healthy vegan soups and they keep in the refrigerator for a few days, or you can even freeze them in smaller portions so you can use them later.

Soup is also a great way to get some more greens in! I love adding a bunch of chopped up kale or collards to any soup. You can always make them with out any added oils, so they can be super healthy!

And, researches have shown that people who eat soup first cut their calories by a lot at each meal. Imagine what would happen if your meal was ONLY soup!

So this week, include lots of soup! And enjoy these fantastic soup recipes!

1. North African Chickpea-Kale Soup

This soup combines two of my favorite foods: kale and chickpeas! It is hearty and combines some unique flavors that will make your mouth dance!

2. Celery Root Soup

This is another hearty soup that kind of tastes like a good potato soup.

3. Red-Lentil Curry Soup

If you love curry, you will LOVE this soup. Rich in flavor, warming, you can’t ask for much more!

4. Split-Pea Soup

I have always loved split-pea soup, to me it is one of the best comfort foods. It is the perfect soup for a day that you don’t want to be outside!

5. Sweet Potato Pear Soup

Looking for something a little different? This savory and sweet soup is the ticket. It has an unusual flavor combination that is really delicious.

6. Cauliflower Soup

I have been obsessed with cauliflower, and this is one of the reasons. This is a simple recipe that can be adapted, I usually throw in some chopped broccoli, chopped mushrooms and kale!

7. Collards and Black-eyed peas soup.

This is a hearty southern soup with lots of nice flavor. I love the collards in this, be sure to cut small pieces!

8. Chickpea Gumbo soup

Would you believe I had never tried gumbo before this? This is a smoky, savory fabulous soup, perfect for any cold day, the chickpeas really add a nice texture to it all as well.

9. Barley Lentil Soup

Trust me, you won’t need to eat anything else after a bowl of this soup! Warming, filling and comforting, this soup has it all for a winter day.

10. Raw Green Soup

For those of you who like cold soup?

Do you have a favorite soup recipe? Try one this week!

 

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Now that you have a bunch of great food (hopefully) I thought I’d give you some ideas on how to use it:

Breakfast ideas:

Fruit salad with some chopped walnuts or ground flax seed.

Quinoa: warm or cold with some chopped up fruit, you can add flax seed or walnuts if you like.

Oatmeal: with some fresh fruit, a few walnuts or flax seed.

Black bean scramble: Black beans, chopped vegetables, topped with no salt added salsa. Pan “fry” in a big pan using water instead of oil or spray.

Greens: I’m wierd. Let’s just get that out of the way. I like steamed kale with nutritional yeast for breakfast.

Occasional treat: tofu scramble – only if you promise to load it up with tons of veggies!

Lunch/Dinner ideas: *Add kale whenever possible :)

Salad is always an easy choice, use lots of fresh vegetables! I like topping salad with homemade salsa or a homemade hummus.

Hummus and veggies. Make your own hummus so it is fat free – just chickpeas, add water in the blender as needed, lemon, garlic and nutritional yeast. It’s pretty awesome.

Soup! I LOVE soup. You can dream up all kinds of soup ideas and you can add lots of greens to them! One of my favorites is to take well cooked cauliflower, (1-2 heads) some water, some spices and blend or use a mixer. We add all kinds of vegetables and greens – it’s a very creamy soup.

Chili: Diced tomatoes, vegetables and beans – that’s all you need.. .and a few hot pepper spices if you are daring.

Quinoa salad: cooked quinoa, beans, vegetables.

Rice and beans: Probably one of the easiest things you can do. Just brown rice, beans, vegetables and low sodium salsa. Use big lettuce leaves for “taco shells”.

Collard wraps: I boil collard greens for about 5 minutes (after removing the stem) before I use them for wraps. I like to stuff them with all kinds of veggies – and I love using “cauliflower rice”.

To make cauliflower rice – grate cauliflower or put in a food processor. When it is grated and looks kind of like rice, put it in a shallow pan with some water until it is soft, but not mushy.

Add cauliflower rice to beans, vegetables, spices and then put the mixture on top of the big leaves and roll up!

Vegetable sushi: Use short grain brown rice or use cauliflower rice. Add in cucumber, peppers and if you like, a little avocado.

Sweet potato and toppings: My favorite is to add steamed kale and black beans, it is delicious and simple.

Zucchini pasta: Slice zucchini with a vegetable slicer to make thin long slices. Top with chickpeas, diced tomatoes, italian seasonings and a little nutritional yeast.

Portobello Fajitas: Slice mushrooms, peppers, onions and add to a shallow pan with a little water – cook with salt free spices. Serve on top of brown rice, and top with shredded cold greens, low sodium salsa and a few slices of avocado.

Desserts:

FRUIT!!!!

You can also make sorbet just by using frozen fruit or a little fruit and ice.

Frozen banana makes a great “ice-cream” blend frozen bananas and frozen cherries, and you have a really nice cherry ice-cream. Add a little water to make it easier to blend.

What are some of your favorite easy plant-strong meals?

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We just finished our third immersion! And EVERY immersion someone brings up doing a reunion, while that might be hard, I thought we can always reunite online. Not everyone is on facebook, but there is an alumni group over there if you search for “Engine 2 Immersion Alumni”. It is a totally private group, so you can feel free to write anything that you might not want to write here.

If you are new to blogging, it’s pretty easy to catch on, at the end of each post you will see a link to “leave a comment” you don’t have to sign up to leave a comment, but it will ask for your e-mail, which will not be displayed anywhere, it just makes sure you are not a spammer.

If you’d like to be able to post blogs, please let me know and I’ll be sure you have access. Recipes, photos, stories, videos you find, anything Engine 2 approved and related really.

So if you’d like, introduce yourself in the comments, tell everyone which immersion you attended and how you are doing.

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