Making Smoothies in Bulk & and a Lesson on Adhering to a Healthy Living Lifestyle

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I love a good fruity protein smoothie. Not only are these frozen delights chock full of fruit, fiber, antioxidants, and protein, but they are also a refreshing treat for any moment of your day. Don’t have time to eat breakfast before you leave the house? Grab a fruit protein smoothie and a granola bar, and you’re out the door. Need a mid-day snack? Smoothie. Pre-workout boost? Smoothie. Post-workout recovery and treat to carry you over to the next meal? Smoothie. Dessert? Smoothie.

 TL;DR: Drink smoothies all day errday.

Herein lies the rub- smoothies can be a bitch to make. I follow the same standard recipe every time I make a smoothie- the “Nika’s Classic Fruit Protein Smoothie” (recipe here). If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? This smoothie is, in my opinion, the best smoothie because it’s like all the smoothies combined into one- strawberries, blueberries, peaches, mango, banana, cherries, raspberries, apple juice, protein powder… It’s the “everything but the kitchen sink” version of the fruit smoothie. The only downside to this is the prep- simply gathering and preparing all those different types of fruit, most of them frozen, can be a pain in the ass. I’m already pressed for time in the morning, so there’s absolutely no way I’m going to be able to get all the ingredients out, make the smoothie, clean everything up, and drink my smoothie without being absurdly late. My solution to this? Making smoothies in bulk- how to enjoy smoothies all day, errday without blendin’ all day, errday.

My recipe (and I use this term loosely because I never follow a recipe when I make anything, everything is by eye) yields about four smoothies. I can increase or decrease this number by the amount of fruit or by the amount of liquid I add. Typically I make my smoothies in the evening, drink one as a post-workout recovery, enjoy one either in the morning or post-workout the following day, and then I have two more to enjoy. I’ll keep the one that I drink the following day in the refrigerator, but I will freeze the other two so they will keep longer.

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Initially, I was storing my smoothies in Lilly Pulitzer cups, as you can see in the recipe post linked above. Now, that option worked fine at home, but if I needed to transport my smoothies to work or to the gym, it was a mess when they began to thaw. I had thought about purchasing some mason jars in which to store my smoothies, but then inspiration struck- recycle!

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Introducing Argo Tea, my recent obsession. Not only do these teas taste delicious, they come in adorable glass bottles… that are the perfect size for storing smoothies. I haven’t tried all the above flavors because the selection is limited in my town, but I have tried the Hibiscus Tea Sangria (omg, my favorite), the Green Tea Ginger Twist, and the Mojitea (my least favorite, I think the mint tea was a little weird for me). I have a Carolina Honey in my refrigerator that I still need to try, but I’m sure it’s going to be delicious (tea and honey, how could this be anything but amazing?).

After I finish sipping these delicious teas, I remove the plastic label, wash them, and then use them for smoothie shenanigans! They’re great in the refrigerator, in the freezer, at home, in the car, at the gym, at work, in your backpack or purse…. literally everywhere.

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If you’re feeling extra crafty and cute, you could purchase some labels, such as these chalkboard labels, for your jars so you could write the type of smoothie, your name, the date you made it…whatever strikes your fancy!

Cooking in bulk and “meal prepping” are great ways to encourage and facilitate adherence to a healthy lifestyle. So much of healthy living is determination, planning, and foresight. Therefore, this is not merely “cheating” on your “diet.” It’s not like sneaking another dessert that Jenny or Atkins won’t know about… just your little secret right? You deserve/need/want that extra dessert because of whatever fill in the blank bullshit is going on in your life. We are always going to be stressed, pressed for time, running late, running behind, too busy, frantically bouncing through our days dealing with life’s drama and wishing there were more hours in the day. But it’s your responsibility as a person to take care of yourself. So even if no one sees you sneak that extra dessert, you will know- and so will your scale, your pants, your skin, your waistline, and your self-confidence. How many times have you eaten that little extra something and then loathed yourself for it? Berating and beating yourself up? How many times has that actually led to something productive, other than more cheating, more desserts, more missed workouts and poor choices? Being healthy is not a fad, it’s not a diet- it’s a lifestyle. For life. You cheat on your lifestyle and you’re only cheating yourself. Thus, there is no excuse other than your own poor planning for eating unhealthfully.

Oh you forgot to eat breakfast, so you’ll just stop somewhere on the way to work? Let me know how that greasy, artificial animal byproduct fluff claiming to be “egg” tastes cozied up to that plastic square of “cheese” and mechanized Wilbur butt “bacon.” How’s that going to make you feel the rest of the day? Let me know how quickly your indigestion and lethargy kicks in. Instead, keep smoothies in your freezer, protein bars on hand, steel cut oatmeal packets tucked away, and always keep extra food at work.

Oh you forgot lunch, so you’ll just go out to eat or grab something at the cafeteria? False. If you’re not already bringing your own lunches with you to work/school everyday, I am shaking my head at you. This little part of your day is crucial for healthy living. You either have the chance to replenish and refuel your body with something healthy and homemade, or you can clog up your arteries with whatever death du jour Hardees is serving up next door. Even a frozen meal (albeit a healthy, Nika-approved one) is a better option than anything you’ll find in a cafeteria or fast food restaurant.

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If you do have to go out, choose somewhere like Chipotle, where you can get a salad or bowl and choose your own ingredients. Notice how I said salad or bowl and not burrito? Getting a burrito adds 300 calories to your meal before you even put anything in it. On the other hand, lettuce adds a whopping 15 calories as base. For example, the salad I always get at Chipotle (brown rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, chicken, tomato salsa) weighs in at 550 calories, which is no problemo for me due to the amount of exercise I get in a day. That same combination in a burrito is 840 calories… at that point, you’re rivaling the neighboring McDonalds for a calorie count, and your cutesy elliptical jaunt is not going to cover that. Also, if you get cheese and sour cream… I just… I can’t. No. Just no. You’re adding an additional 225 calories that are completely worthless to you. If you’re trying to plan a lean meal at Chipotle, I would also avoid the corn salsa, which carries 85 calories, compared to 20 calories for the other tomato-based salsas.

Living at healthy lifestyle is really not that difficult. Challenging, yes. But really difficult? no. Nor is it some mystical, elusive treasure reserved only for the majestic, rainbow fitness unicorns that poop gluten-free vegan pellets between spinning and Pure Barre classes. With some determination, persistence, research, planning, and preparation, you can accomplish mystical unicorn status as well, and I’ll be here every step of the way to lead you out to pasture.

❤ Nika

Tofu Scramble Wrap: A Gluten Free Vegan Breakfast

Gluten Free Vegan Tofu Scramble Wrap

I’ve been eating gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free for three years and mammal-free for 8 years, and I can’t say I miss any of it (well, maybe real pizza… and bread that actually stays in one piece). I have never been a big fan of eggs, even when I ate them. Ever since I saw an episode of Fear Factor in which they had to consume raw goose eggs (gag), I have never been able to eat eggs without being just a smidge grossed out. I mean…. it’s a chicken embryo. Furthermore, I jokingly referred to yogurt as “fermented cow lactate” the other day, but… that’s no joke. Milk is just a cow’s bodily fluid… Okay, I’m grossing myself out now too. Now that I’ve completely put you off of animal products for the day, let’s have a gluten-free vegan breakfast! See how that worked out? It’s almost like I planned it.

Even though I don’t miss eggs, I do miss what they offer to a breakfast- a breakfast sandwich filling, a vehicle for veggies in a scramble… But, never fear, this tofu scramble wrap will have you saying “eggs, schmeggs” with it’s flavorful, airy texture.

Ingredients:
1 Inch Slice Firm Tofu
1/8 Cup Red Pepper
1/8 Cup Red Onion
¼ cup Pepperjack Daiya cheese
Corn tortilla
Salt and pepper
Paprika
Garlic Onion Powder

Directions:

Gluten Free Vegan Tofu Scramble Wrap1. Cut up 1/8 cup of red pepper and 1/8 cup of red onion. Add to a large skillet coated with olive oil and sauté on medium-high heat.

2. Cut a 1 inch slice of firm tofu and crumble it into the skillet with the peppers and onions.Sprinkle the cheese on top and fold in.

3. Season the scramble with salt, pepper, garlic onion powder, and paprika (for color).

Food for Life Sprouted Corn Tortillas (GF Vegan)4. Sautée until the peppers and onions begin to caramelize and the tofu has reached an airy texture. This will take less than 10 minutes.

5. Place the corn tortilla between damp paper towels and microwave for 5 seconds.

Gluten Free Vegan Tofu Scramble Wrap6. Add the tofu scramble to your tortilla to make your wrap. Garnish with fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey Bacon and Cheesy Spinach Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap (GF, Dairy-free, Egg-free)

Fruit Salad and Turkey Bacon and Cheesy Tofu Scramble Wrap

I love a good breakfast sandwich, but being gluten free, dairy free, egg free, and red meat and pork free can limit the once vast breakfast options. This breakfast wrap is better than the “real thing.” It’s got the cheesy, eggy taste of a cheese omelet and the rich, savory taste of the turkey bacon. The salsa adds some complexity and acidity with some southwestern flair. Wrap it up in a chewy, starchy wrap, and you’ve got a perfect breakfast wrap in your hand. I paired this wrap with a colorful summer fruit salad with organic fruits, including fuji apples, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and oranges. A great way to start a weekend morning!

Turkey Bacon and Cheesy Spinach Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap with Summer Fruit Salad

Ingredients for Wrap

Turkey bacon (vegan option- use meatless “facon”)
Simple Truth Salsa
Daiya Cheddar Cheese
Firm Tofu
GF Brown Rice Wrap
Organic Spinach

Ingredients for Fruit Salad

1 Fuji apple
Handful of blueberries
4 strawberries
Handful of raspberries
½ navel orange

Directions for Wrap

1. Add two large handfuls of organic, washed spinach to large skillet with olive oil.
2. When spinach begins to wilt, add crumbled firm tofu. Season with salt, pepper, turmeric, paprika, and chili powder.
3. Add cheese on top of tofu scramble, cook until cheese melts.
4. Cook 6 strips of turkey bacon in a drizzle of olive oil. Cook until crispy.

Fruit Salad and Turkey Bacon and Cheesy Tofu Scramble Wrap
5. Add spoonful of salsa to wrap.

Fruit Salad and Turkey Bacon and Cheesy Tofu Scramble Wrap
6. Add three strips of turkey bacon to each wrap.

Fruit Salad and Turkey Bacon and Cheesy Tofu Scramble Wrap

7. Top turkey bacon with cheesy spinach tofu scramble.

Fruit Salad and Turkey Bacon and Cheesy Tofu Scramble Wrap

Fruit Salad and Turkey Bacon and Cheesy Tofu Scramble Wrap

8. Roll up and serve with fruit salad. Makes two servings.

Fruit Salad and Turkey Bacon and Cheesy Tofu Scramble Wrap

This is such a delicious, well-rounded, and healthy breakfast. You’ve got a nice balance of fruits and vegetables from the fruit salad and spinach with protein from the tofu and turkey bacon and some complex carbs from the brown rice tortilla. All that fiber and protein will fill you up, keep you satisfied, and fuel you up to make today a productive day!

GF Vegan Tofu Scramble Wrap

Finally, the three day weekend is upon us, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I need it. Maybe it’s psychological anticipation or maybe it’s the fact that I feel like a rain cloud has been following me around for the past two weeks, but it seems like the weeks leading up to a holiday are an epic battle to the end. I feel like this mentality started, at least for me, in college, where it literally was a struggle to make it to whatever three day weekend or holiday that was stickered and decorated with exclamation points in your Lilly Pulitzer planner. By the time that weekend or day off rolled around, you first had to pick all the pieces of your brain and energy off the library floor before you could actually go home and enjoy yourself (which usually included sleep, sweet sweet sleep).

Anyway, I’ve managed to pipet up enough pieces of my brain off the cell culture room floor to write you this recipe for a delicious m. I made this lovely wrap for lunch, but it could also serve as a breakfast wrap, and you could toss in some vegan sausage, turkey bacon, or whatever else floats your breakfast boat.

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GF Vegan Tofu Scramble Wrap

Ingredients

Firm tofu
Spinach
Onion
Red Pepper
Tomato
Daiya Cheddar Cheese
GF tortilla wrap

Let’s Get Cookin’

1. Chop your red pepper and onion and add to large skillet drizzled with olive oil on medium-high heat

2. Add a heaping mound of spinach (keep in mind that even the largest handful of spinach will wilt down to microscopic proportions when cooked. Maybe spinach’s magical shrinking abilities will transfer to our waistlines?!)

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3. Cook until spinach has wilted and turned dark green and onions are caramelized.

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4. Add chopped tomatoes, crumbled tofu, and Daiya cheese. Season with salt, pepper, a dash of chili powder, paprika, and garlic. Cook until cheese has melted and tofu is warm. IMG_1175

Tofu Scramble

5. As cheese is melting, warm GF tortilla wrap either by placing over warm, moist skillet or wrapping in a moist paper towel and placing in microwave for approximately 10 seconds. I use the Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas. They are probably my favorite GF and vegan wraps (out of my very limited selection), but they are still very difficult to work with. They aren’t very flexible and very easily break, flake, and crack when you try to roll them. Humidifying and heating the wraps before working with them makes them a tad bit easier to work with, but still roll with caution.

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6. They see me rollin’, they hatin, scramblin’, tryin’ to catch me eatin’ dirty. Roll up that scramble. If I’m packing it for lunch, I like to roll it in a paper towel and plastic wrap to keep the moisture inside and to keep all the ingredients from exploding all over the table when the wrap inevitably breaks.

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Until a couple weeks ago, I’ve never had much experience working with, cooking, or enjoying tofu. However, since my initial endeavor with the GF vegan breakfast casserol(Click here for recipe), I’ve really enjoyed playing around with tofu scrambles. This wrap, in particular, was delicious even the next day at lunch.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend! Get outside, get active, and don’t get too crazy with the food and booze at the cookouts this weekend! On a serious note,  if you do eat meat, please be very careful. This recent E. coli outbreak is serious and spreading and will affect one of the popular menu items for this weekend- hamburgers. Please be cautious of the meat you purchase and consume, particularly ground beef, which can be teeming with bacteria.

Gluten Free Vegan Breakfast Casserole

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Happy Mother’s Day everyone! I celebrated today by making brunch for my mom, including today’s recipe for a breakfast casserole that is gluten free and vegan option. I made my casserole with ground chicken since I eat poultry, but you could very easily substitute some tempeh for the chicken in the recipe and follow the same directions. This dish is dairy free and egg free as well! The casserole was accompanied by a fruit bowl and blueberry and raspberry GF vegan muffins. Lots of pictures below!

Gluten Free, Vegan Option Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients

Potato layer: potatoes, thyme, rosemary, basil, salt, and pepper.
“Sausage” layer: ground chicken (or tempeh), onion, sage, thyme, nutmeg, salt, pepper, maple syrup
“Egg” layer: Firm tofu, tomatoes, red pepper, spinach, onion, garlic, paprika, herbes de provence, salt, and pepper.
Toppings: Daiya cheddar cheese (GF Vegan), Garden of Eating Chia tortilla chips (GF, V), Cilantro Continue reading

Seriously Cereal

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I woke up craving cereal this morning, but my selection was getting pretty bare. So I rolled up to the grocery store in my PJs and picked up one box of cereal, two types of granola, and a carton of almond milk. Totally normal, right? Because the selection of GF vegan cereals are often very slim, I like to mix different ones for taste, fiber, and protein. Granolas often have more fiber, protein, and general nutritional quality as compared to your typical box cereal, but eating a big bowl of granola can be highly caloric and not to mention expensive, with some quality GF granolas costing upwards of $8. This morning I went with a combination of Van’s Honey Nut Crunch and Kind’s Maple Quinoa Clusters granola (with chi chi chi chia). The Van’s has a decent amount of fiber, but the granola packs a larger protein punch due to the quinoa and chia. I topped this lovely combo with blueberries and unsweetened almond milk and paired it an apple. Obviously coffee was involved too, gotta get that caffeine in my veins. Hope to see you at the gym today!