Fit Club
comments

Last week I got an email at work about signing up for our company’s fight Fit Club. (update: super bummed to not be meeting in a dark basement to beat the crap out of each other). I signed up without thinking too hard about it, because who doesn’t want a firm commitment to leave work at a certain time in a group and do something that I enjoy but have trouble making time for. About two months ago, TSNY (the trapeze school that I love) moved their silks classes to the pier, which means that the latest class is 4pm and 4 students have to share one silk (which means 45 minutes of class is me sitting around watching other people get stronger), so I haven’t been getting the tough workouts that I was getting earlier in the year. So, I was pretty excited to go kick ass twice a week right next to work.

Then I got an e-mail yesterday. Not only do we have to weigh in during our first class (something I’m not comfortable doing in front of people I work with), but there was also a meal plan. Three servings of dairy a day and meat at two meals? This is almost the opposite of my ideal diet. My first reaction was to pull out, because this trainer and I are clearly not going to see eye to eye on what an ideal diet should look like. I am really looking forward to the training aspect of the next six weeks, but I’m not willing to compromise myself. I also don’t believe in doing things half way though, so keeping up with my diet of late isn’t really an option either. It’s not that I’m eating unhealthily, but I have been relying on processed foods like vegan chicken nuggets due to time constraints with work. So, I’ve decided to go all-in, but I’m going to do it my way, and I’m going to write about it as I go along.

Garlic Lemon Kale
comments

This recipe is my personal take on the lemon kale that Native Foods serves as a side. There’s is delicious, but the problem is that I usually pair it with a pizza or a burger, and I realize that those are not the healthiest foods. For the next 5 weeks, I’m going to be doing an intensive aerial silks workshop on Sundays, which culminates in a performance. I’ve only been doing silks for about a month right now, so I am a little nervous about the performance. I want to be sure to do everything I can to help my performance on the big day, so I am going to be treating my body like a temple for the next 5 weeks. This means filling myself with healthy and nutritious vegan meals that are high in protein and low in fat and sugar. It’s the best way that I know how to ensure that all of the work I am doing in my classes and conditioning on the side is not going to waste.

TLT, TLC
comments

Hello, my name is Nicole and I am a salad snob. It could be the fact that my relationship with salad didn’t really get going until I was an adult, so I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid the iceberg/ranch dressing with a single sad slide of tomato combination that I know many people probably endured in their school lunch rooms. To me, a salad is a masterpiece that requires a mix of organic greens, fresh vegetables, home-made dressing, and something cooked on top of it.

When I go to the salad bar for lunch at work, I’ve been creating an Asian-inspired salad with sesame dressing, something called “wok tofu”, greens, baby corn, water chestnuts, and sesame seeds. I sometimes throw some cucumber on there, especially if I’m feeling bloated that day. I’m also a huge fan of vegan Niçoise salad, which I usually make with fingerling potatoes and fresh string beans (olives optional because I don’t use enough to keep a jar on hand, but Whole Foods does have a darling little olive bar). Anyway, when I make a salad it is a serious endeavor, and this one was no exception. It’s a play on a tempeh, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, except in salad form. I would suggest making it for a fancy lunch and maybe serving it with a glass of chilled white wine on a warm spring day.

Garlic Toast
comments

When I moved to the Santa Monica Promenade, I didn’t realize all of the perks associated with the neighborhood. Sure, I knew that I would be able to run on the beach in the morning and that I was walking distance away from a twice-weekly farmers market as well as Whole Foods. However, I had no idea that I was moving do close to the source of fresh-baked baguettes. Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica bakes their bread fresh daily, and sometimes as often as every hour. On the weekend, I like to walk down and pick up a hot loaf of bread, either their thick Italian loaf or the more traditional, thinner baguette.

In the interest of maintaining the looseness of my jeans, I only go over once a week to get my carbohydrate fix. While I usually enjoy the bread slathered with soft avocado in place of butter, I have also been known to make killer garlic bread with it. My trick is to use no less than 4 cloves of garlic for every quarter loaf of bread, which makes it a really romantic dinner option. Hey, my breath may reek but at least I don’t have to worry about vampires. If Buffy taught us anything, it’s that Southern California is teeming with the undead. You could always break out the holy water, or you could just check out this recipe after the jump.

Chocolate French Toast
comments

At the end of January I wrapped up a brutal project and work and decided that I needed to get out of dodge for a little while. That’s when I decided to go to my favorite city in the world, Paris. Despite the bitter cold of one of the coldest winters in recent history, I had a wonderful time. As Hemingway wrote, “When we came back to Paris it was clear and cold and lovely.” I spent hours wandering around the streets, stopping often in cafes to warm up with a mug of vin chaud, and I even experienced roasted chestnuts for the first time in my life. I hiked to the top of the Eiffel Tower while the bitter cold stung at my nose and ears despite my best efforts to shield myself against the wind. I sat underneath the heaters at Deux Magots, soaking up the Hemingway nostalgia as well as warming myself with a glass of amazing red wine. I cruised down the Seine on the coldest night of the year, drinking champagne and wishing that the boat had more than one working space heater. It was cold for sure, but it was also still and calm and beautiful in a way that my vacation pictures don’t really do justice. I’m so glad that I was able to make the trip during the off season, because it gave me a real feel for what it must be like to live in the city and experience it as a local.

I was also fortunate enough to stay once again at the Gentle Gourmet, Paris’s only vegan Bed and Breakfast. My hosts could not have been more wonderful, especially considering that I was their only guest. Deborah’s daily breakfasts were so delicious that I cannot wait to go back to Paris and visit their all new cafe. There is nothing more amazing than French toast made with fresh French bread, or so I thought. One morning she improved upon it with berries and an amazing chocolate sauce, and told me that sometimes she actually puts a piece of dark chocolate INSIDE of the bread before dipping it. That’s right guys, INSIDE of the toast there is CHOCOLATE and it erupts like a volcano of deliciousness when you slice into it. My god this woman is a genius. I cannot stress enough that everyone needs to try their new cafe as soon as it opens, and I encourage you to plan your trip in such a way that you can take all three meals with them. My delicious recipe is after the jump.

Health Starts Here
comments

Whole Foods carries a pretty decent line called Health Starts Here. I will warn you that you need to be careful about reading ingredients, because the folks at Whole Foods obviously don’t equate health with being vegan. They define it as healthier ingredients, like the whole wheat flour that goes into their oil-free pizza dough. Whole grain flour, water, yeast, and sea salt are combined and sold in large bags that are perfect for experimenting with at home. You simply take the refrigerated dough out of the fridge an hour before you want pizza and let it rise a bit. Now I know that some people would argue that I ruined a perfectly good oil-free dough with the olive oil in my recipe, and to those people I offer the following alternative. Mince the garlic instead of slicing it and sprinkle it over your dough. Garlic has some natural stickyness to it that will keep the dough from getting overdried and tough. I might also add some nutitrional yeast at that point to jazz things up.

It would have been really easy to go ahead and make a pizza, but I was already planning on a soup for dinner. I’ve been doing a soup dinner once a week lately, and find that it’s a really good way to get a lot of vegetables into my diet. I was really just looking for something delicious to dip into it. So here is my uber simple recipe for vegan foccaccia. Serve it with soup or pasta, or even bake it up for guests as an appetizer.

Berry Chocolate Chip Pancakes
comments

One thing that I love to keep on hand in my pantry is a bag of chocolate chips. I hide them in the back , and try to forget that they even exist. If I didn’t intentionally ignore them, I might eat them when I’m jonesing for chocolate, and then I would be helpless when a impossible to ignore chocolate chip pancake craving hits.

I’m crazy about pancakes for breakfast, and I like to play on a classic recipe by adding new ingredients into the mix. Last week, I added fresh blueberries and a few chocolate chips, and they were delicious. They were, in fact, so delicious and sweet that I went without maple syrup or earth balance on top of them. I’ve made a couple of adjustments to my old pancake recipe, so I’m reprinting it here. Feel free to experiment on your own with different add-ins. I’m thinking about pureed banana next time.

Trying New Things
comments

The Santa Monica Farmers Market is lousy with “broccoli sprouts” right now. It seems like every third booth has a huge cardboard box of these things. I had never tried them before, but they looked pretty healthy so I decided to go for it. A little internet research revealed that all of these people are liars. What they are selling is something called sprouting broccoli. It’s rich in vitamin C and harvested January-April. It is pretty similar to chinese broccoli, in the sense that the stems are pretty long. I picked some up for a dish, and I was pretty satisfied. The stems were a little tough towards the end, and next time I would probably trim off the bottom 2 inches from each piece. Otherwise, they were perfect with some spinach and basil gnocchi that’s been hanging out in my freezer for a few months. This is an oil-free recipe. Ever since my juice fast, I’ve been on a real healthy eating kick, so I should have some good recipes for you guys in the coming weeks and months. Check out this one after the jump.

Ritual Cleanse Day 3
comments

Day 3 started off with me losing another pound and a half, and my skinny jeans finally buttoning in an attractive manner. I woke up clear-headed for the first time during the fast, and I quelled my early morning hunger by finishing the second half of my cashew-vanilla shake from last night. I’ll admit, it was a little heavy on my stomach, so maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.  I guess That I’m very much undedcided about whether it’s better to stack your calories in the morning or wait until the afternoon. The Skinny Bitch girls say that you should start your breakfast with fruit and only fruit, which gives your bodies natural garbage collectors some extra time to do their work. Other books say that you should stack your calories early in the day so that your smallest meal is dinner, which gives your body time to digest everything before it slows down for sleepy time. I guess it comes down to doing what works for you, and I’m going to sincerely try to do a light breakfast post-cleanse and see how I feel.

9 am

Since I downed the cashew drink as soon as I woke up, 9 am was time for breakfast. I’m actually getting used to the green drink, and I can even taste the subtle differences between the different blends. The morning juice has lemon in it, which nicely compliments the hot water with lemon that I have at the beginning of every day.

11:00 am

I’ve decided that the seasonal juice is really awesome. I’ve also decided that while the cleanse gives me a lot of physical energy, I wish that it did more for me in the mental energy department. I have a lot of work to get through this week, and I really do need to be on my game. Maybe it’s the lack of caffeine?

1:00 pm

I decided on another quarter avocado for lunch today, because I was absolutely craving avocado. It was delicious and it got me thinking that when I finally get back on bread, I’m going to experiment with using avocado instead of earth balance. It’s all healthy fat, so it’s got to be better for me than empty calories, amirite?

3:30 pm

I realized that I completely forgot my third juice of the day, and I was a little late in drinking it. But it was a good sign that I forgot my juice, because it meant I was caught up in work. I actually do that a lot these days.

4:30

I also moved up the drinking of my lemonade, mostly because it tastes gross and I wanted to get it over with. Cayenne in lemonade? Not a good idea. Lavender or mint in lemonade? Awesomesauce.

6:30 pm

My last green juice of the fast. OK, I have an extra one in my fridge from yesterday, and I plan on drinking it tomorrow, but it’s still just a little sad to see one baby juice, forsaken by his juice friends.

*Thursday Morning Update*

I did my post cleanse weigh in and I can happily report that I lost 4.7 pounds total over the three day cleanse. Most of it was probably water, because I estimated that my calories deficit without working out was 1,200 a day on the fast.

Ritual Cleanse: Day 2
comments

Most online reviewers claimed that I would get the best sleep of my life on the cleanse, but they forgot one tiny problem. Since I’m drinking nothing but fluids and I have a bladder the size of a walnut, I woke up two or three times last night to pee. It wasn’t a problem, and I slept really well aside from that, but it was far from the best night of my life.

8am

I woke up and weighed myself first thing. In my first day I lost 2.5 pounds, which I’m guessing was mostly water weight.  My green juice tasted much better the second time around, but my stomach was a little upset from not having enough food in it.

10am

I had juice #2 in a meeting. I tried to start my program earlier in the day because I planed to work out, which meant I would need to add in the pre and post-workout juice as well. My stomach was definitely a little off.

11am

I decided to drink 1/3rd of the post-workout juice, since it’s made out of almond milk. The one thing I don’t like about this cleanse is that it stacks your calories towards the end of the day, which is the exact opposite of how my body wants things to work. I continued to feel just a little foggy, much like I was on morning 1.

12pm

At this point, I broke down and busted out my emergency avocado (which is allowed on the cleanse, as well as lettuce, lemon juice, and vegetable broth). I had a quarter of it and it not only helped my stomach, but about an hour later I started to feel completely clear-headed.

2pm

The avocado filled me to such an extent that I didn’t even start my next green juice until about 2 oclock. By that point, my head had started to clear and I felt a huge burst of energy. It was a little weird, but I actually found myself wanting to leave work and go work out, which is usually something I dread.

4pm

Cayenne-lemonade time. This is by far the weirdest juice, and I can’t get past the little cayenne flakes that are floating around in it. My burst of physical energy started to subside, but my mental energy and ability to focus and concentrate was higher than it has been on the entire cleanse, which was a bonus. I got in a nice burst of productivity and got some serious work done.  I looked in the mirror, and I think that my skin might be getting a little oily, which is a perfectly natural side effect of a cleanse, as your body starts to release all the crap it’s been holding on to. At least I’m not getting weird BO, at least I hope I’m not. Someone would tell me, right?

6pm

I was winding down for the day, so I broke out the pre-workout drink. This meant skipping my third green juice of the day, but I’ve decided to save it for Thursday morning.  They call the workout juice  pre-shred and it consists of carrots, beets, celery, apple, and pear. I HATE raw carrots. I really have tried to like them in the past, but it’s never worked out for me. I get a nice hint of pear with this juice, but I can’t get over the carrot-y grossness. I’ve noticed that if I like a juice, it takes me longer to get through it. The pre-workout drink was finished in about 3 minutes, if that’s any indication of how quickly I wanted to get the experience over with.

Working Out

After work, I hit the 24 hour fitness for a little gym sess. That’s bro for session. While lifting weights, I noticed that my muscles were a little weaker than usual, so I lifted less weight than I usually do. This could be the juice or it could be that I am woefully out of shape. It makes me long for my gymnastics days when my body was a well-oiled machine. I’d love to go back, but I’m a little spooked after the tailbone injury that kept me in constant discomfort for almost a year. Maybe trapeze class? There’s a net to fall into there, so it’s probably much less dangerous. Anyway, in my current state I doubt that I would even be able to hold myself on the bar for any prolonged period of time. Oh how far I have fallen from the day that I actually climbed a rope to the top of the gym. After weights, I did a quick abs session which went the same as it always does. Then I ran on the elliptical. Again, I took it kind of easy but I did push myself to finish half an hour.

Post-Workout

In the car on the way home I enjoyed my almond post-workout drink. I already drank a third of it in the morning, so it wasn’t anything new. It’s a blend of almonds, water, cinnamon, and vanilla. I think there’s a little agave action up in there as well. I downed it pretty fast and followed with a full bottle of water to rehydrate.

8:30

I was torn on whether I even wanted the last drink of the day, a cashew vanilla drink that’s actually really creamy. I decided to have half of it, saving the other half for breakfast on Wednesday. I’m going to try to stave off the mid-morning fuzziness and stomach pains by stacking that high-calorie drink earlier in the day. Towards the end of the night, I started to really crave and look forward to solid food. It’s a good think I didn’t order that 4th day after all.

Wednesday Morning Update

I woke up this morning to weigh myself first thing and I’m down another point and a half, for a total of 4 pounds lost since starting the fast. Goal pants not only successfully button, but there is nothing spilling out over them. Other than that, I don’t see much difference in my face or the rest of my body.