The weather is doing all sorts of mysterious things across the nation this week. We went from hot to rainy in a matter of hours here in Southern California, watching a broadcast in New York this morning, I see people freezing their cans off...and Instagram posts from the Midwest tell me there are even new blankets of snow in certain states! Weird.
So, I thought it appropriate to whip out a cozy recipe. If you're chilling inside this weekend because of the cool weather, but wanting to stay diligent with the spring cleaning you may be doing for your body (I know I'm not the only one who starts to lighten up her diet this time of year), a steamy bowl of vegan chili might just fit the bill!
Vegan Crockpot Chili
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 organic, red or orange bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ t sea salt
½ t cracked black pepper
1 t cumin
1 t cinnamon
1 t chili powder
2 zucchini, chopped
2 yellow squash, chopped
2 cans (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) fire roasted, chopped tomatoes
2-4 c vegetable broth
½ c steel cut oats
In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook onions and peppers in the olive oil, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and all seasoning and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, just until garlic begins to brown. Immediately transfer this mixture to a large crockpot. To the crockpot, add the zucchini, yellow squash, black beans, tomatoes, and 2 c vegetable broth. Cover and set crockpot to low for 4-6 hours. Two hours before serving, add the steel cut oats to the chili, stirring to combine. Also at this time, add additional vegetable broth if chili needs more liquid (depending on your crockpot, this may be the case...I would simply eyeball it, making sure there is enough liquid to generously coat the oats). Chili is done once oats are cooked through (about 2 more hours on low).
Enjoy, and have a cozy weekend!
There are a whole slew of detoxes out there, but I wouldn't survive for 6 hours on any detox that doesn't let me chew my food. This isn't to say I'm 100% against detoxes, though! Sometimes when we've had limited control over our food choices (for instance, after saying as a guest at someone's house or traveling extensively), our bodies begin to crave those unhealthy carbs that we know are slowly making us feel inflamed, irritable, and heavy. Here's why I developed my one week sugar detox:
-This plan allows you to eat real (tasty) food.
-Taking on a week-long project like this will kickstart regaining control over sugar cravings.
-You can do anything for a week!
How do you know if a sugar detox is a good idea for you? Well, if you're experiencing one of the symptoms I just mentioned above, that might be a good indicator. If you are in a place where you can't get through the day without dessert, that's another indicator. Sugar is very addictive and very harmful to your health...I won't even bother linking you to evidence. All you have to do it Google it. Sorry to be harsh.
Now, the idea is to eventually take on a diet low in added sugar, meaning that once you get through this detox, you'll be able to add back in fruit, honey, maple syrup, and other unrefined forms for sugar. But for one whole week, my recommendation is to stay very low carb (as carbohydrates turn to glucose--sugar). You'll feel for a time like you're giving up more that just sugar, but after the week is through, everything BUT the refined sugar can be added back in (slowly is best)! Honestly, after your sugar detox, a piece of fruit will taste insanely like candy and you'll be in a much stronger place to resist refined sugar for good. Often, it feels more hopeful to focus on the foods you can eat during a project like this one, but to simplify the guidelines, I'll lay out the "no"s first. Stay away from:
-Sugar, in obvious forms (dessert)
-All grains and starchy vegetables
So...what can I eat? Plenty! Remember: you can do anything for a week. When I sugar detoxed, I made a point of splurging on fancy nuts, cured meats, and delicious teas so that when I was really craving chocolate or cheese, I'd have something new to distract me. That reminds me of an important point--the sugar detox week requires careful preparation (meal planning and grocery shopping) and cooking from home. Don't take this project on during a week when you can't prepare your own food; you'll feel miserable. Here's a sample menu for a day on sugar detox:
One egg and sugar free (read those labels) breakfast sausages with a side of sliced cucumber and tomato
Coffee with coconut cream (in moderation)
Cashew bread (look for a recipe that's mainly cashews and eggs), topped with vanilla-infused coconut oil
Paleo Cobb salad (romaine, organic cherry tomatoes, organic bacon pieces, a cage free hard boiled egg, scallions, and a dressing of pureed avocado, olive oil, lime juice, and salt)--pictured above
Organic celery sticks with all natural peanut butter
Sugar free almond meal biscuit (lots of recipes out there!)
See? Plenty of options! You'll want to watch out for a couple of things. For one, know how many eggs you can handle in a week. I personally can't eat them every day for digestive issues, so if you have high cholesterol or an egg sensitivity, you might want to eat stir fried veggies and a white meat sausage for breakfast instead. Also, the point of a detox is to rid your system of toxins...so you need to be drinking a ton of fluids during your sugar detox if you want to effectively cleanse your system of it. Lastly, listen to your body. If your stomach reacts negatively to all the fatty foods, stick to the basics: lean protein and vegetables. Lots of vegetables.
What do you think? Are you game to try this? I know my sugar cravings were much more manageable after I took this project on and...true confession, I only did it for 5 days. 7 days would be best, but even if you challenge yourself to a few sugar free days, your body will tell you one way or the other if it's working. Feel free to reach out if you're interested in this project or have questions about it! You CAN do it.
I know what you're thinking! Ew. And honestly, the best way to introduce people to this recipe is to say, "Here, taste this chocolate pudding!" THEN, when they're like, "Oh, wow, that texture is awesome," you come at them with, "Yeah, it's made with avocados." Stunning ensues. But this is a blog and I can't give you a spoonful of the stuff, so you'll just have to trust me. I straight up prefer this pudding to a conventional one and as an added bonus, it totally counts as a serving of vegetables. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought another chocolate recipe was called for. And no, it's not green (see photo). You and/or your sweetie will love this!
2 medium, ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/4 c milk or milk substitute (I made a version last week with organic half and half and this week's batch was with coconut milk...both delicious)
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c pure maple syrup
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 oz organic dark chocolate, chopped
Pinch coarse sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
In a blender, combine first 5 ingredients. If you have a great blender, it will take care of this completely, but it you have a weak blender (like me), you'll want to then transfer the contents to a bowl and whisk thoroughly until no avocado bits remain visible. Finally, fold in chocolate chunks and salt. Serve cold with a dollop of organic whipped cream or coconut cream, if desired.
Happy Valentine's Weekend!
So, I thought maybe it wasn't fair to everyone who didn't comment that I was hoarding the amazing salad recipe I gave away to commenters a few weeks ago. I found this salad at a delightful little restaurant in Palm Springs (that I can't for the life of me remember the name of) last February and have been obsessed with it ever since...I recreate it with my own little tweaks about every 6 weeks, it seems. If you like what you see, leave a comment about other recipes you'd like showcased here and I'll see what I can do!
Yam and Arugula Salad w/ Citrus Dressing
Serves 8 as a side salad, or 4 as a main course
8 c (or one pound package) of baby arugula
2 large yams, baked, peeled, and cooled
⅓ c crumbled feta cheese (organic, if possible)
½ c chopped cilantro
1 large, organic green bell pepper, diced
1 recipe citrus dressing
In extra large bowl, layer half the arugula, half the yams, half the feta, half the bell pepper, and half the dressing. Repeat. Serve cold but store any extra salad undressed.
¼ c ruby red grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
1 t grated ginger
½ t sea salt
½ t ground black pepper
It's simple, really. Vegetables make up basically the healthiest food group that exists. They're densest in nutrients, lowest in sugar, really high in fiber, and typically really low in calories. I'm as far from being vegan as a dog is from being a chocoholic...but the vegans are onto something! (Note: feel free to ask me why I'm not a vegan and why I'm also still friends with them.)
But eating vegetables is hard.
So here's how I do it:
-I dislike wasting groceries, so I buy lots of pretty, beautiful vegetables even when I'm not in the mood just so they're in the fridge. Shopping for veg is the best! It's almost as pretty as shopping for flowers.
-I prep snacking veggies at the beginning of the week (Ever had a cucumber stick? Way more fun than a cucumber circle.).
-I eat lots of loaded salads. Toppings are the best! (Pictured here is my Red and Green Christmas Salad)
-I incorporate veggies into one-pot wonders like soups, chilis, or whole grain veggies dishes.
-And when all else fails, I hide them in smoothies. Hello, spinach.
What's your favorite vegetable? (Maybe if we're super affirming of them, we'll actually indulge this week...) If you comment, I'll send you a fab salad recipe. For real! Try it!