Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oil Free Vegan Recipes

I just discovered a great website for fat free (or sometimes just oil free, but natural fat) vegan recipes. It's called

This website even has a section of recipes that follow the Eat to Live guidelines. How great is that?

If you're not completely vegan, this website can still give you a host of healthy dishes and treats to make to keep your eating clean.

I observed pretty quickly that it's not actually fat-free. She just doesn't add oils to most recipes and uses natural fats at times. Here's what SusanV, the web host said about this:

What's this "fat-free" business all about?
In general, I don't cook with refined fats (oil, margarine, and shortening). This simply means that instead of sautéing in oil, I use water or broth. In baking, I substitute apple sauce or flax seeds or some other substance for margarine, butter, or shortening. I do use a little sesame oil now and then because a little bit imparts a lot of flavor. And once in a very long while, I go crazy and make something with a little olive oil in it, but this is rare, and I don't use whole heaping gobs of it.
Wait a minute . . . I saw a recipe with coconut milk and another with walnuts. Those aren't fat-free ingredients!

You're very observant! Yes, I sometimes use lite coconut milk (though I'm trying to cut down), and I do include avocados, nuts, and seeds in my diet as forms of healthy, unrefined fat. This blog probably should have been called "Oil-free Vegan Kitchen," but I didn't like the way that sounded.

But if you don't use any fats, how do you get your Essential Fatty Acids?

Again, I do use avocados, nuts, and seeds in my cooking. In fact, what you don't see from looking at the blog is that just about every day I eat walnuts and flax seeds on my lunch salad. Flax and walnuts are both excellent sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. I definitely believe in getting EFA's, just not in the form of refined oils but in their natural "packages," along with all the other beneficial nutrients that nuts and seeds contain.
The recipe at the top is Stormy Black Bean Soup. Doesn't it look yummy? Here's the recipe if you don't feel like clicking on the link just yet:
Stormy Black Bean Soup

Vary the amount of spices in this to suit your taste. I used the minimum amounts given, which put this right at the outer edge of my daughter's spice tolerance.

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cans (or 3 cups) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
2 bay leaves
1-2 tsp. chile powder
generous grating of black pepper
1-2 tsp. minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
4-5 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (optional)
lime wedges

In a large pot, sauté the onions, garlic, and bell pepper until the onions soften, about 3 minutes. Add the beans, seasonings, and tomatoes, and stir to combine. Add 3 cups vegetable broth or water. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour, adding additional water or vegetable broth as needed to keep a soupy consistency. Just before serving, add the corn, if you like, and heat through. Serve in bowls with lime wedges. Makes 4-6 servings.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cathe's Success Story Blog

Maybe I haven't written enough about Cathe Friedrich to convince you to try her workouts, but this just may inspire you. Cathe has a section of her blog for success stories. She posts a new success story every week and they are all wonderful. They aren't like all the fitness infomercials you see on TV. These tell the stories of women (so far I haven't seen one by a man, but there may be one) who have overcome much in their lives besides excess weight.

Go see for yourself when you have a little time. This last one by Carol Knizek is especially great because she's discovered what eating whole foods can do for her health in fighting breast cancer.

Click here -- Cathe's Success Story Spotlight

Also, here's a video clip from the Body Blast series (one of my favorites). It shows a little of each of those workouts and a bit more of Legs & Glutes (which I did just last week - - love it!)

Click here to visit Cathe dot Com.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Eating at Night

I've been working on not eating as much at night. Before we moved, I wasn't really hungry at night time, so I didn't eat much late in the day. My mother used to tell me the old adage, "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." I may not have done that exactly. I probably ate lunch more like a king and breakfast like a prince who went outside and picked lots of fruit off the court trees and bushes. But my dinner was pretty minimal.

Since we've moved, I've been eating more in the evening. I'm not sure why. I know my children all had various ways of processing our move after leaving our home of 15 years. Maybe this was one of my adjustments. I'm not sure. But I do know that it hasn't helped me keep my weight down.

One of my most successful diet & exercise plans was from the book by Oprah's trainer, Bob Greene, "Make the Connection - 10 Steps to a Better Body and a Better Life." This was his first book from 1996. I've never read any of his other books he's written since, but I really appreciated the fitness knowledge I gained from this simple book. Somehow after having my 4th baby, I convinced myself that I wasn't doomed to having a "motherly" body for the rest of my life -- that I could get myself in great shape. I read this book, followed the 10 steps pretty strictly, and lost that baby weight and felt great.

One of the steps (which was new to me) was to not eat anything late at night. He didn't specify a certain time to stop, but I think he said to stop at least 3 hours before you go to bed so that your stomach will be empty. I used to go to bed around 10:00 p.m., so my cut-off time was 7:00 p.m. It was a huge change for me to make, but I made it and it paid off.

I've been making the effort to return to that habit this past week. I go to bed later now (like without sugar allows me that luxury of living on 5-6 hours of sleep just fine), but I'm still sticking with the not eating after 7:00 p.m. I've been steadily losing weight since.

Here are some explanations from Bob Greene on why avoiding late night eating helps with weight loss:

"What I want you to feel (when you go to bed) . . . is slight hunger. That feeling is your brain saying, 'Feed me or I'm going to dip into your fat stores for energy.' That, of course, is exactly what you want to happen. It's your guarantee that your body is burning the fat you are working hard to lose.
If, on the other hand, you follow your brain's directive and eat close to bedtime, your body will not dip into the fat it has stored away, and will probably even store some more. Every time you eat, your metabolism increases slightly. But this effect is lost or minimized late at night. You don't get the same metabolism-boosting benefit when you eat just before bed, because a couple of hours after dinner, your body begins preparing for sleep. This natural slackening of your metabolic rate overrides any metabolic boost you might get from eating. So once you hit the pillow, the only calories you're going to use are the basic calories you need to keep your heart beating and your lungs breathing and allow your eyes to move in REM sleep. And that, all told, is a minimal number of calories."
I also feel like when I go to bed full, my stomach isn't truly happy. I was eating more to get over some anxiety or fulfillment from the day's activities, but I didn't really need it or want it. I feel kind of bloated or gassy when I get under my covers. I'd rather go to bed feeling light and free of new food in my digestive system.
There are times when I feel like I need a little something before I go to bed and if I can't fight that, I'll have a piece of fruit. Fruit digests faster than any other food, so that seems to feel okay if it's at least 1/2 hour before I go to bed -- an hour is even better.

A strategy I know some people use to remember to stop eating at the end of the day is to brush and floss (who wants to floss twice at night?) I've taken an even greater step the past several days. My dentist made me a night guard to wear (he says I grind my molars). It's pretty comfortable and I don't mind wearing it at all. So I've been brushing and flossing, then will put in my night guard so I have that in my mouth (and can't put anything else in it mindlessly). It seemed to help me get this habit of eating-free evenings back into my life.

I'm trying to remember what Bob Greene's other 9 steps were. I think one was to get at least 20 minutes (preferably 30 minutes or more) of cardio exercise 5-6 days a week. That was new to me then. I truly did start out with 20 minute workouts (Denise Austin's Hit the Spot Fat Burning Blast and later Kathy Smith's Cardio Fat Burner) and it was enough back then in my early 30s to lose weight and keep it off. Another step was to work out in the mornings to boost your metabolism throughout the day. I'd never done that before. I preferred to work out at night when the kids were in bed. But I taught myself to get up before them - - and I put up a baby gate at my doorway so they couldn't come in if they did wake up early. They could watch, but not ask for breakfast, juice or anything. I still have to remind my youngest of this rule almost 15 years later. :) The baby gates are long gone though. I'm pretty grateful for what I learned in this book. It prompted many good habits that I've kept (and one that I'm trying to get back). Night night for now.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wasting a Workout

Several years ago, I was at a baby shower and was offered some cake and ice cream. When I declined, a friend of mine made a comment about how strong I was for resisting. I told her that I had done a really tough workout that morning and didn't want to waste the workout by eating all that sugar. She works out all the time too and (as she took her next bite of cake) said, "Wow, I've never thought of it like that. I work out so I can eat the dessert."

I've thought about that statement many times since. I probably started out in that mindset of you exercise so you can burn off all those tempting excess calories you want to eat (but know aren't good for you). As I've gotten older though (and hopefully a bit wiser), I can see that you don't take two steps forward just to even out those few steps back. You step forward so you can get where you want to go.

Since my move, I've had a harder time sticking with my healthy eating and my workouts every morning. I've finally got my exercise groove back and I'm bound and determined not to let my eating temptations (mainly bread) waste my workouts. I'm tired of pushing myself, getting all sweaty, feeling wonderful when I've finished exercising only to go week after week without any visible results. I've been much more mindful this past week about the efforts I've put forth with my workout when I head into the kitchen and decide what to eat. No more wasted workouts for me! I'll be back in a month to post my results. I know it will pay off.