Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The End Is Really Just the Beginning

I wanted to give an update on my healthy journey that I started back in April 2011. That was 10 months ago! It has been a great journey with twists and turns along the way. I have learned a LOT! But the learning never stops so neither does the journey.
In April I weighed over 230 lbs. I suffered from allergies, asthma, snoring, aches and pains and other annoying issues. It wasn't just me that was suffering. My husband had been diagnosed with diabetes 2 years prior. It was time to make some changes! My goal was to lose 80 lbs.
We did make changes, big changes! We went from eating a typical western diet, to finishing all the meat in our large freezer, to eating a completely plant based diet. Also known as a vegan diet. I prefer the term plant based because many foods are vegan (oreo cookies), yet not all of them are good for you or your health.
The changes that were happening on the outside of my body were obvious. I was losing weight, my skin looked great. But the first big thing that I noticed was that my allergies disappeared! I no longer would wake up through out the night with a stuffy nose. My eyes no longer were itchy and watery through out the day. My snoring stopped. Then about 4 or 5 months into my journey I got the urge to start running! This is amazing because I HATED running. Plus it always triggered or made my asthma worse (if I was having an episode of asthma). But I couldn't resist my longing to run anymore. So I ran! I remember the first time being shocked that I didn't experience any wheezing during or after running. I have not had any breathing problems since. Actually, I've hardly even had a cold.
So how is this end really just the beginning? Well, I've lost 78 lbs. I've gone from a size 2x/22W to a size s/8! I have been waiting for those last two pounds to come off. But my body seems to think that it is right where it is supposed to be. After doing some research (I have a medium body frame) I found out that I am at a point of maintanence. Which means, I just need to maintain my current weight.
This is the point where most diets fail. You hit your mark and think, "I'm done". You stop the diet and the weight starts coming back. This why it is SO important to make lifestyle changes that you can stick with for a LIFETIME.
I have been thinking of those last two pounds for a couple of weeks now. I could cut a few of my (healthy) snacks out of my day or maybe try those shakes I hear so much about. But the truth is they are not reasonable changes that I can continue. So no, I am going to be happy and pleased with the journey! It's been great! It's been more than just physical. It's been a spiritual journey as well. I am SO thankful for God's presence in my life!
Besides, summer is around the corner. I always lose a couple pounds during the summer. :-)

Note: I wanted to also comment on my husband, Roque's progress. He is no longer taking medicines for his diabetes! He has lost over 60 lbs and continues to lose. He is now training for the Tough Mudder. May the Lord be with him, lol :-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spicy Chickpea Burgers

Vegan and vegetarians alike are always looking for something that comes close to replacing the hamburger. For myself, I realize that a hamburger is a hamburger. Nothing is going to really substitute for it. Which is just fine with me! I never really cared for hamburgers with the exception of In n Out Burgers.

For the vegan there are many things that we call "substitutions" for the burger. The veggie burger is the most popular. Like many, I don't really care for the store bought varieties. Most of them are not vegan anyways, having cheese and eggs in them. But these are easy to make at home (I believe I have my own recipe on here, months back). Black bean burgers may look more like beef does. But it definitely does not have the same texture. I made them once and wasn't even impressed with the flavor. I was so disappointed that I haven't attempted them again. If anyone has a recipe that they like, feel free to send it my way!

I love chickpeas (garbanzo beans). They are very versatile and are used to made a variety of meat substitutes that are pretty close to the real thing in texture. So when I saw a recipe for Spicy Chickpea Burgers I knew that I would have to give it a try. You can find the original recipe here. Of course I did make a change or two to the recipe.

Makes 12-14 burgers.

1 red bell pepper
1 large onion
30 ounces or 2 cans chickpeas (drained)
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp. flaxmeal w/6 tbsp. water)
2 tbsp cumin
2tbsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup plain bread crumbs
2/3 cup vital wheat gluten
4 tsp (or more) thai spice or other hot sauce

In food processor blend onion and bell pepper until chunky. Add chickpeas and blend well. It's ok to have bits of chickpeas.

In large mixing bowl mix cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, bread crumbs, and vital wheat gluten. Add chickpea mixture, flax eggs and hot sauce. Mix well with a heavy spoon or your hands.

Form into patties and place on a cookie sheet. These have the consistency of ground beef when you are forming them. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once the patties are frozen (3-4 hrs) put in a ziplock bag and store in the freezer until ready to use.

These can be grilled, pan cooked or baked. For cooking on the grill or the stove-top, keep frozen until ready to cook. If you want to bake them, defrost then bake at 375 degrees for about 20-30 minutes (10-15 minutes each side).

I will not claim that these taste like a hamburger. They don't. They taste better!

Baseball season is just around the corner. We will be eating 2-3 meals at the fields during the week. Making these in advance makes it a breeze to take them out of the freezer as needed. Just cook them up, wrap them in foil and put them in the cooler (or warmer).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Brownie Bites

Some of my favorite things used to be ice cream, chocolate, coffee, In n Out Burger and Taco Bell. Most of these cravings I don't experience since adopting a healthy lifestyle. It's kind of amazing that I can now easily turn my nose up to ice cream. The thought of In n Out Burger makes my stomach turn. I love that my days are so easy to start without needing a cup of coffee. For some reason that I don't understand, I still crave Taco Bell. But only if I think about it! So I don't!! The other craving that I still have is for chocolate. It's a craving that I give into at least once a month. It makes it easier to give into it when I can do so guilt free.

I found a-not so guilt free- recipe that got my chocolate craving revving a couple of days ago. You can find the original recipe here. It is getting easier to change recipes to my liking. To me, guilt free means no fat or oil. I don't count calories.

This is a two part recipe. Don't let that scare you. It is really quick and easy!

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 12 ct. muffin tin.

Brownie Pumpkin Layer:

Mix in large bowl:
1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup + 3 TBSP raw sugar
1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix in small bowl:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 TBSP cornstarch
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 baking soda

Add dry ingredients to wet and stir well. Add about a TBSP of brownie mixture to each muffin tin until mix is gone.

Pumpkin Pie Layer:

Mix in large bowl:
1 cup of pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBSP almond milk

Mix in small bowl:
1/3 cup raw sugar
2 TBSP cornstarch
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Add wet ingredients slowly, while stirring, to dry ingredients. Mix well. Using a small measuring cup, pour enough in each muffin tin to just cover the brownie mixture, making sure you have enough for each one. Use all the mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes at room temperature. Then cool in fridge to chill for 1 to 2 hrs.

This satisfied my chocolate craving!!

I have curently lost 77 lbs. That puts me 3 lbs. away from my goal!
My hubby, Roque, has lost 58 lbs. But even better that that, he is no longer taking medication for diabetes!