Monthly Archives: March 2012

Taking Care of Yourself or Sorry I’m Such a Flake, Guys

Readers, I planned on blogging Thursday. Instead, I passed out cold at 9:30. Then, I planned on blogging Friday, and passed out cold right after I got home at 10. They’ve been busy days, and it’s been a busy week. Sometimes, early sleep happens and I don’t get tasty recipes and bad jokes out to you. Sorry. 😦

I suppose it’s fine, because I definitely never gave you a set update schedule (yes, there is a good reason for that!) but I do feel a bit obligated to the people who have subscribed to me, or who have clearly bookmarked me. I’m grateful that people read my ramblings and try my food, so I want to get more of those out to you! Still, I’ve learned some important lessons in the past few years, in which I’ve transitioned from my unhealthy, depressed, and stagnant self into the healthy person who is working hard to maintain her life, family, and education today.

This was me three years ago.

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It took me a long time to find ANY picture of me from then, and even fewer that showed me below a fake smile. I was the most depressed in my entire life at that point. Many of you probably assume this is because I weighed 240 lbs. The truth of the matter is though, I weighed that much BECAUSE I was depressed. It was the symptom, not the cause. Let’s take a look at her life, that twenty-three year old mother.

She had dropped out of college, twice. She had accepted that she was not the smart kid anymore, and had instead become the screw up who got knocked up unexpectedly. She was working full time at a Payless making almost nothing. She was living with her father. She had stopped playing music. She was lonely, tired, and sad. She didn’t take care of herself, she didn’t care enough to do so, and she felt like crap about herself. That’s the girl who weighed 240 lbs.

This is the same woman last August:

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You’ll notice that she weighs less and has considerably less hair. She’s since grown it back out, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. You’ll notice she looks pretty pleased with life…and her ridiculous pants. Let’s look at the life of that twenty-five year old mother.

She was recently accepted to a four year institution after a few years at community college. She was working with people she actually liked, still making almost nothing, but more than she had and feeling much better about it. She was starting to get the hang of this “mom” thing, and enjoying the summer with her daughter. She was living with her father, but school made her feel better about that. She had been involved in two bands in the past few years. She had friends who came over for dinner sometimes, slept enough, exercised regularly, and ate well, and was a month away from becoming engaged to the mman of her dreams. That girl treated herself with the respect she had deserved at 240 lbs. That girl weighed roughly 150 lbs.

The biggest differences between me “before” and me “after” have little to do with the weight. The difference lied in how good I felt about myself. I want to say that I had this magical epiphany that changed everything, but I didn’t. I changed completely by accident.

When I was twenty-three, Olive completely stopped eating any kind of meat that wasn’t a chicken nugget. She was only about 18 months old, and this made me really nervous, because I had ALWAYS been overweight, a fact I knew was in part due to never learning how to eat properly as a child. I did not want her growing up with the same problems I had when I was small, but she needed protein and iron, right? So I did what any mom with a basic education behind her would do, I searched the internet.

My reasoning was that vegetarian children grow just fine, so maybe I could try a few of their recipes instead. The internet was full of them, and I was willing to try anything at that point (I mean, it’s not like I had anything else going on, or anything). My first recipe was some sort of curried greens with potatoes. As I was making it, I felt really cool for a minute. I stirred up these flavors that were foreign to me and imagined myself as a hip, young college student, cooking veggie meals for herself. I thought, “I could do this. I really could.” So I did.

As time went on, obviously I became really concerned with animal rights and the quality of meat. I went vegan for awhile about a year later and quit when I met Mike, then started again more recently, with less rigid rules about my veganism (for instance, if I’m at an Indian restaurant and they have Kofta, it’s ON). I started caring about how many veggies I was eating and the environment, and the health and well being of my family. I quit smoking–I smoked a pack a day or more for five years–and took up running. Suddenly, I cared whether or not I was healthy.

For good reason too, I was happy! Being unhealthy meant that at some point that happiness would end because I would either get sick or die early. I didn’t want that! I was a student, I was a mother, I was someone’s fiance, I was a musician, and I was becoming everything I finally wanted to be.

I kept it up, and I’ve been healthy ever since. Recently, I’ve stopped stepping on a scale. I don’t want to count calories or worry about a few pounds here or there anymore, that’s no way to live. I need to have my mind available for my studies and my family, not worrying about what that baked potato might have cost me!

Do I have a few tips for those trying to be healthy? Well, a few.

1. Stop worrying about your weight–I’m serious. The more I freaked out about how thin I was the worse I began to feel. I started losing the weight by accident when I went vegetarian. I was planning whole meals to make sure I got everything I needed, so the first forty pounds or so came off on their own. I lost another thirty by running and switching to an almost completely plant based diet. I only lost ten pounds counting calories. Besides, if you feel good, your weight doesn’t matter. Your healthy weight is where your body sits when you’re exercising regularly and eating well, not when you’re depriving yourself and feeling exhausted.

2. Eat breakfast. Always.–If I didn’t eat breakfast, and regular meals, I would feel like butt all day. I don’t care how late I’m running, I always have breakfast. It sets the tone for my day and gives me what I need to not feel like a zombie. Eat breakfast.

3. Eat when you’re hungry.–Don’t bother telling yourself to wait. If you’re actually hungry, you need to eat something. And eat something you actually enjoy, too. I don’t want to hear you’re suffering through plain celery (get some hummus for Pete’s sake!) just to fill your belly until dinner time.

4. Do something you like, simply because you like to do it.–For me, this meant going back to school and singing publicly again. I love doing those things, but stopped doing them because I didn’t feel like I deserved either. I did, and you deserve what you like to do, too. Get a hobby, or take up an old one. As my therapist says, “Find your bliss.”

5. Get therapy.–It couldn’t hurt.

6. Get plenty of sleep.–If you’re tired, sleep, even if you’re worried that your blog’s readers will be mad at you. πŸ™‚

Take care of yourself, guys. Thanks for letting me do the same.

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Stop Hitting the Bars!–or–How I Managed to Not Spend My Life Savings on Larabars

Readers, I can’t STAND the idea that any of us–me, you, your Aunt Ethel–ANYONE can purchase health. It’s disgusting how much some people charge for things that are supposed to improve your quality of life, appearance, weight, IQ, alertness, butt, whatever. Case in point, here is a blender you may have heard about–the Vitamix. Can you believe it’s only $450? It comes with a cookbook, but if you already have a Vitamix you can get the cookbook for the low, low price of $50! What a steal!

For the price of $450, you get…a blender! And to think I spent a measly $30 on mine!

Sure, it’s a really, really nice blender. Hell, from what I understand you can make your own peanut butter in it and that’s sort of cool, but at the end of the day, it’s a blender. Nothing more, nothing less. A blender.

Their marketing campaigns, like many other products meant to improve your health somehow, makes it sound like you NEED the Vitamix for optimum health, because if we make the same smoothie in different blenders mine will have less healthfulness to it. Sorry, I’m not buying it (literally), because if there is a difference, it is minimal.

Sometimes, a product really is different! For instance, there is a big, big difference between this: Quaker Chewy Granola Bars and these: Larabars, Kind Bars.

Not only do the last two have ingredients that you’ve likely heard of, they both contain considerably less sugar, and considerably more nutrition. In fact, Larabars are really just fruit and nuts mashed together. What a great product!

That’s why it’s so sad that as nutritionally amazing as this snack is, it’s so expensive. The cheapest I’ve ever seen it is $1 a bar, and that’s when it’s on SALE. I’ve seen these, and bars like these, sell for $2.50 a bar before.

Guys, I don’t think we have to be in the elite to be healthy. I don’t even think we need to be in the upper middle class. I sincerely believe that even working and lower class people have the ability to be healthy, with a little know how and willingness to try new things.

Which is why I made you this recipe, and I’m giving it to you for free. Because damn it, you deserve to eat something good today.

Easy, Healthy, Sugar Free Granola Bars
2 cups raisins
1 1/3 cups raw almonds
2 cups oats (yes, quick oats will work, but none of those flavored packet pieces of crap)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Soak the raisins in a bowl filled with warm water for fifteen minutes.

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Drain the raisins and set them aside.

Now, if you’re lucky to have a food processor, the next few steps are much easier. You’ll just throw all that crap into a food processor and let it go. If you have that luxury, meet me a few steps down, when we start to shape the bars.

Unfortunately, if you’ll remember, my food processor died, so I had to go through a few extra steps. The good news is, I now know what will and will not fly when you’re using a blender, so I’ve saved you some frustration.

Wish I could have had those ten minutes back, though.

First, pulse the almonds in a blender until they look about like this:

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Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Next, if you have big, fluffy, not crappy instant oatmeal, pulse that up a little bit. Don’t make oat flour! Just make the flakes a bit smaller.

Pour into the bowl with the almonds.

Finally, throw the raisins into the blender. Pulse them until what you’re looking at looks…well…unappetizing. It will look a bit like a paste. Raisin puree, I suppose.

Whatever you do, DO NOT try to blend all those ingredients together, or your blender will be ANGRY with you!

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See that? That’s a stopped up blender. Don’t DO that.

If you do the blender stuff they way I told you, that whole process will only take you about five minutes. If you do it like I did it you will become frustrated and ANGRY and it will take about fifteen minutes.

Next, mush all that stuff together with the cinnamon and nutmeg. I found it was best to use my hands.

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Pat them into bar shapes. I made ten bars, but you can make little mini bars, if you prefer eating lots of smaller snacks. They should be about this thick:

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Place them on a lightly greased baking sheet.

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Bake for fifteen or twenty minutes until golden brown. MAKE SURE YOU LET THEM COOL BEFORE EATING THEM!!!!

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Tuck these into your bookbag for a snack on the bus or at school, or enjoy one with a cup of coffee and some fruit in the morning. Either way, you’ll be saying “STUFF IT!” to all the people trying to separate you from your money, and an even bigger “STUFF IT!” to all the people trying to feed you refined carbs and extra sugar!

Feel free to stir in chocolate chips, whole raisins, or anything else you think tastes good in a granola bar. Seriously, these are DELICIOUS and really easy to personalize. I like peanut butter on top of mine!

I hope you love these and soon have a baggie with one in it on your commute. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

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Money Saving Monday, The Doldrums

Readers, I am at a crossroads. Last week was by far the most successful week this blog has had, apparently people really dig gluten free, Weight Watcher’s recipes, and I am so grateful. Today, though? Today, I have no gluten free, points calculated, recipes to give you. Oh, I have tasty recipes, mind you, and you’ll be getting them, eventually, but for now I am bored and wondering how to keep your attention.

Should I do a little dance? Should I tell you about the awful runs I went on last week? Should I tell you about my stance on weight loss specific diets?

No, those suck. How about a cheap blueberry syrup recipe that you can use to hold on to your ridiculously expensive maple syrup a little longer?

Today, readers, is my first day of Spring Quarter and I am finally back to full time status. In fact, I am typing this during a break between classes (get used to these weird mid day posts, they’re probably going to happen twice a week). As you can imagine, this has caused me quite a bit of anxiety so when a tiny voice this morning suggested we have pancakes for breakfast I was all over that idea.

Oh god, they were good and I wish that I had come up with the pancake recipe so I could share it to you, but it actually came from one of my favorite cookbooks: The Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook. I did, however, get a bit creative with the syrup.

Guys, I love maple syrup and it is by far the BEST way to top pancakes and waffles (and if you’re buying that “pancake syrup” crap I’m going to find you and smack you. Hard. That stuff is HORRIBLE. Go ahead, look at the ingredients. It’s disgusting. Don’t eat it.), but maple syrup is expensive. I try to use it to sweeten things in my household but I’ve found myself using raw honey when I can, since it’s so much cheaper but is also less nutritionally void than table sugar. You can use honey on pancakes too, but that would only have solved one of my pancake problems.

I like to have a little protein for breakfast. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a “YOU MUST EAT ALL THE PROTEIN, FOREVER!” kind of vegetarian, but I like to have a little in the morning to keep me full. Usually I have some peanut butter, or a handful of raw nuts, but I wasn’t in the mood for either today.

**Just so you guys know, peanut butter is also excellent on top of a pancake, especially as a midday snack!**

I got a little bold, and made this syrup.

Blueberry Protein Syrup
1 C. frozen blueberries (buy these if you can’t afford fresh, they work GREAT for things like this!)
1/4 cup raw nuts (any variety. I used walnuts because I had them)
1/2 cup water
Sugar to taste (a teaspoon should probably do you)

Put all of that stuff inside a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Transfer that stuff to a blender and blend till smooth. Put it back into the saucepan to keep warm until it’s time to drizzle over pancakes.

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Look how pretty that is! So purple! It gave me the pep and sunshine I needed and I managed to get to my bus like a champ!

You may find you need to add more water to bring it to your desired consistency, and that’s fine. Also, if you don’t want to use any sugar or other sweetener, I’ve found throwing half of a really, really, really ripe banana into the blender usually does the trick.

Nuts aren’t cheap either, so I can understand why some of you are balking at the addition of nuts, but trust me, in the end this is MUCH cheaper than a bottle of maple syrup and so much better for you than “pancake syrup” that you’ll be thanking me for days.

Is it as good as maple syrup? Of course not! But it’s pretty damn tasty. Plus, it’s purple.

How do you economically and healthfully top a pancake?

Ashley Week Part Four–You Deserve a Damn Cookie

Ashley is a trooper, guys. I’m not even kidding. During this week one of the worst things that possibly could have happened, happened, and she is taking it so much better than I would. I had a couple ideas in the old noggin for what her grand finale would be, but since she’s had two dinners and breakfast already, it’s time we tackle snack time, and not just any snack time, stressful snack time.

See, the problem with stress eating is that it’s the only time where you aren’t completely satisfied eating a piece of fresh fruit. You want something rich and comforting. Back in the day, I would de-stress with food like macaroni and cheese, or an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies. I’ve since found a nutritious alternative to the mac n’ cheese dilemma (not my recipe, sadly) but cookies, well, I’ve always just sort of let them be cookies.

But what if I told you that I found a way to turn a cookie into the nutritional equivalent of a high quality energy bar (think larabar) instead of a sugar laden sweet fest?

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“Withcraft!” screamed my readers.

Seriously though, if you guys make any of my recipes, make these. They’re delicious, amazing, and so good for you it’s downright stupid, and all of the ingredients are recognizable. This is also probably the simplest recipe in the history of cookies. Enjoy!

Energy Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
1 1/4 cup raw almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First things first, we’re going to make us some almond flour. I want to tell you guys that I just magically know how to do this, but that would be a total lie. I learned about a week ago from this lady’s cookie recipe. Essentially, you just pop the almonds into a blender or food processor and pulse it until you have a fine meal. With luck, it should look like this:

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Add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir to mix. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and stir to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and raisins.

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Drop by the spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet.

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Bake for ten minutes, or until somewhat firm.

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Eaaaaaat!

Guys, these are AMAZING. They melt in your mouth and taste so decadent. My theory is the fat in the almonds replace the need for oils for flavor. Either way, they taste buttery, though they have no butter, and sweet, though they have almost no sweetener. You can feel free to omit either the chocolate chips (to have a more “oatmeal raisin” type cookie) or the raisins (to eat chocolate chip cookies!) but I really, really love the fruit and nut taste these cookies have.

My family LOVES them, and I’m glad because they taste like a cookie, but are essentially a handful of nuts and raisins mashed together. I win!

Prep and Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Points Plus Value: 2 (per cookie)

Ashley, come over and I will bake you a double batch of these for the week. You can eat a few in place of breakfast bars in the morning, or just have one or two as an afternoon snack. They are oh so good they will halt your sweet tooth and bring instant comfort.

Eat a damn cookie, guys. You deserve it.

Rice, totally boring, right?–Ashley Week Part Three

Ashley, I don’t envy you. Seriously, I had a week of great recipes planned until I realized that my oats were all cross contaminated. Since I didn’t want to write recipes that involve my readers going out and buying expensive, weird things, I had to chuck them all. Celiac’s disease, you have an enemy!

The good news is, I’m resourceful and have a crap ton of rice. The bad news is that I don’t feel like eating it right now. Not for dinner anyway. I’m bored, I’m sick of rice, and I don’t want to eat it anymore!

I lied, I love rice. I love it so much, I’m having it for breakfast.

Breakfast Rice
Serves 3
1/2 cup instant brown rice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 banana, cut into bite sized chunks
1/4 cup almonds (I like to crush them with a hammer before I add them, that’s not necessary though, or wise if you suffer from an anger problem)
2 tsp maple syrup

Throw all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for ten minutes, or until rice is tender. Then eat it. Easy. I like to give it an extra splash of almond milk before I dig in. Yum yum!

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Sometimes I add a few raisins or chop some dates to throw in. I didn’t this time, though, because Mike hates them. It’s still tasty without and the banana makes everything super duper sweet. If you need more maple syrup, feel free to add it, it’s not a huge deal. In fact, you can increase the maple syrup to two tablespoons instead of teaspoons and the stats will remain the same.

It’s comforting in place of oatmeal, less boring than yet ANOTHER bowl of corn chex, and a whole lot cheaper than buying your own special oats. Make some for breakfast tomorrow and you, your partner, and whatever adorable children you have on hand, will be happy you did.

And if you want to have a grapefruit with it, or maybe a clementine, I think that would be ok, too. πŸ™‚

Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Points Plus: 6

Eat breakfast! It’s important!

Ashley Week Part Two–or, “Why You Should Marry Your Slow Cooker”

Readers, you may have noticed I don’t usually post on Tuesdays. I have a large number of excuses for this, as Tuesday, without fail, seems to be the busiest day of my week. My last quarter as a Classics student, Tuesday was the day I had class until four (language classes, no less) then came home to a “No Mike” house where I needed to do mom stuff and cook dinner. Also, Tuesday has always been the day my band rehearses. So yeah, you’re not always going to get a post on Tuesday. My apologies.

The one thing Tuesday has taught me to appreciate however, is the beauty of a slow cooker (and which pizza places have friendly drivers). You see, with a crock pot you can just throw a bunch of crap into your pot and come out with very, very tasty food without any supervision. After a long, horrible day, it’s really nice to come home to a heavenly smelling kitchen, knowing you put in absolutely no effort for it to get there.

Crock Pots have kind of a weird place in the vegetarian world. Almost all of us own one, and typically it’s a throwback from the days when we used to buy crappy cheap meat that the crock pot would turn into moist, tender, fall off the bone flesh. These are weird memories for me, because now the previous sentence makes me gag a bit. At any rate, when we were meat eaters our crock pots were our best friends.

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This guy is my crock pot. When I got him, I was most excited that I could fit an entire chicken inside. When I stopped eating anything that used to move of it’s own volition I stopped using my crock pot. That is, until I realized that beans are a lot easier to cook when you don’t have to watch them all day.

So, for Gluten Free/Weight Watchers/Ashley Week, I bring you my favorite bean soup, cooked for six hours while I went about my day and gobbled up by my family when I got home.

Pinto Bean Soup–Slow Cooker Edition
Serves 8
2 cups dry pinto beans
6 cups veggie stock
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
Salt and Pepper, to taste
4 cups brown rice, cooked (optional)
hot sauce to taste (optional)

Throw everything but the rice in your slow cooker. Set the slow cooker for about six hours. You may notice I didn’t presoak the beans. That is because I am so lazy it causes people physical pain to look at me. If you DO soak those bad boys you’ll cut the cooking time down quite a bit, but it really doesn’t matter. Also, I usually chop up half a sweet onion and chuck that in, too. You can totally do that, but onions make one person in my home and at least one person in Ashley’s home kind of gassy, so I decided not to tempt fate (not that all those beans are going to help matters, any). You could also throw in a few bell peppers as well, but I only like to do that for the last hour so they don’t become mushy beyond all recognition, so if you don’t have time, leave them out.

At the end of six hours it will be soupy, mushy, and so ridiculously yummy. You can eat it as a soup with some cornbread or the “cheese” biscuits I’m this close to perfecting and it will be wonderful.

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That’s how Ollie ate it, and she downed the entire bowl. Point–Mommy.

But for Ashley, and how we usually eat it out of sheer laziness and ability to conjure brown rice at will (or rather, we keep some in our fridge for emergencies/bouts of ravenous hunger), I suggest ladling it over a half a cup of rice.

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That’s what it looks like after you eat half of it and go, “Oh crap, I have to post that to my blog!” You’ll also notice that I favor hot sauce on my soups.

Either way you eat it, pair it with a steamed veggie or salad and you have yourself a meal!

Mike had seconds, again, and I took an extra bowl to Ashley at her work for her to have for lunch the next day. She loved it! How do I know? Because she sent me back a picture of a completely empty container. I’d say that’s a win!

Prep Time: Five Minutes
Cook time: Six hours in a slow cooker
Points Plus (for one serving with rice): 7

Hey Ashley, I’m gonna need you to clean that container.

Money Saving Monday–Meet Ashley

This is Ashley.
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I realize that this is not a “real” picture, but I assure you that the likeness is uncanny.

Ashley and I are a lot alike. We’re both funny, ridiculous people, we both love to sing, we both have worked for one of the circles of retail hell, we have a ridiculous love of karaoke, we went to the same high school, and we were briefly in the same department for college (woo music school dropouts!). We are friends because of these similarities.

The similarities stop there, though. She’s an excellent dresser and I own one pair of over sized dress pants. Her shoe collection is the size of my kitchen, and she eats meat and dairy gladly. Also, she has what I can only describe as a disgusting love of Kelly Clarkson. We are friends because of these differences.

Our dietary differences haven’t caused us any real problems. She’s not particularly picky and we don’t eat out together a whole lot, anyway. Still, I was shocked when she texted me the other day asking for vegetarian recipes. Ashley loves meat, really. It’s not to say that she won’t eat anything I cook for her but chicken breast and tuna might as well be their own food group she likes them so much. So why would she be asking me for recipes?

Turns out, miss Ashley is on Weight Watchers and veggies have no points. Also turns out that she’s realized that as far as healthy proteins go, my can of beans is a hell of a lot cheaper than a chicken breast–a big deal since she recently purchased an amazing new car. So right now she wants to try my way of eating for a little bit. How could I possibly deny her?

There are just a few problems.

1. I have no idea how Weight Watchers works. Seriously, this “points” thing is complete Greek. Thankfully that was an easy enough problem to solve, since there was a handy little calculator on the internet.
2. Ashley has Celiac’s Disease. This means NO gluten. Unfortunately, since I am a vegetarian, that became a bit limiting since I rely on grains quite a bit to get certain nutrients.

Neither of these were impossible problems to deal with and so I bring you–Ashley Week!! (Let the record state that I tried to come up with a better name, but here we are.) For the entire week I will be posting a new recipe each night that will be vegan, gluten free, cheap, and delicious. At the end of the week, Ashley will give me feedback about the different recipes and which ones were her favorites (in theory. It might be more like next week.) Furthermore, for this week and this week only, I’ll be calculating points values for you.

Why this week only, you might ask? Well, because I don’t think any of you guys need Weight Watchers. I think you’re beautiful as you are. I just want you to start treating yourself better by eating better. And I want you to be able to do it without spending tons of money and calculating points or calories for the rest of your lives.

BUT, soapbox aside, if you’re going to do a diet, this is definitely the way to go, because at least it accounts for proper nutrition. Just know that you’re going to have to use this and this to calculate the points of my recipes in the future. I give you full permission. πŸ™‚

So, without further delay, I bring you…

Ashley Week, Recipe 1–Curry Style Chickpeas and Rice

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This is an easy and quick recipe that benefits from the rice being made ahead of time. It should make between four and six servings and the leftovers make an excellent sack lunch the next day, as Mike will attest to, since he ate all of the leftovers. It costs almost nothing to make, so long as you have a few basic spices on hand, and your dollar stretches further if you save the left overs and eat them the next day. You don’t have Garam Masala on hand? Don’t worry too much, just add a little more curry powder and some red pepper. It won’t be perfect, but it should take care of the heat it adds.

2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 servings of brown rice, cooked in vegetable stock
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (optional but recommended)
1 tbs Braggs liquid aminos OR tamari (thanks Corinne πŸ™‚ )
2-3 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/4 cup raisins

In a large skillet, add everything BUT the rice and raisins and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the rice and simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in the raisins and serve.

I’m legitimately sorry about the almond milk. I know that stuff isn’t cheap, really I do. If you make this recipe without it, it will still be tasty, just less creamy. The reason I added it is for richness, and originally it was going to be lite coconut milk. Unfortunately, that stuff is 2.50 per can. You can get 8 servings of Almond Milk for that price! Besides, at 35 calories per cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk, I think those of you watching for these things ought to give it a try, if you’re able.

If you’re feeling peppy you can add veggies while it’s cooking–some good options are peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower. Make sure you give them time to simmer in the tomato mixture until they’re soft enough for your liking. Otherwise, serve this with a salad or some steamed veggies and you have yourself a delicious, gluten free, complete meal that took no time to make and tastes like happiness. My family ate the crap out of this stuff, even Olive. Mike loved it so much that he got thirds and took the rest of it with him to work the next day. I’d call that a seal of approval!

Total time: 20-30 minutes
Points Plus Value: 6

Eat, enjoy, and know that you’re having something that is more healthy, nutritious, satisfying, and tasty than any frozen crap you can get a hold of–and was cheaper to boot! Happy Monday!