Yes, it’s vegan—but it’s delicious and filling! And easy.

I’m over food labels. Sometimes I eat a meal that is “Paleo.” Sometimes my meals are “low fat,” and sometimes they are “vegan” or “vegetarian.” The most consistent characteristics about my food lately is that it’s real, seasonally appropriate (no watermelon in January!), and digested well.

The “low carb” reader may exclaim, “But that meal has too many carbs!  It will wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels!” Those with digestive weaknesses may say, “I could never eat that without severe gastrointestinal consequences.” Those who don’t cook and try to use canned beans and instant rice may think this meal “sounds bland and boring.” Those who are trying to lose weight will be confused because there are so many theories and opinions about weight loss.

If you’ve read my blog, you know I’ve tried a lot of self-experiments in regards to diet/nutrition. While a significant amount of weight came off naturally after giving birth last year, another significant amount lingered. Between nursing and not sleeping, my appetite was big, and eating helped ease the stress and tension of having a newborn and not sleeping. The food I ate was “healthy,” but I was eating often and a lot.

In an effort to eat more like the French people (and to raise a kid who eats well like the French kids), I have been trying to eat at meal and snack times only; no grazing in between. In order to do that, not get HANGRY, and still have energy to exercise, think clearly at work, and stabilize my emotions, I need food that is satiating. Nobody wants to see me hangry. Trust me.

Molly’s Mexican Bowl:

1 cup of cooked brown rice

1 cup of cooked beans (I like the small red chili beans)

Salsa (particularly Senor Fields Chipotle Salsa found at Whole Foods)

½ avocado (sprinkled with sea/Himalayan salt)

Mix all together and voila – Mexican meal bowl!

IMG_6657.JPG

Sometimes this amount of food is hard to finish. It always fills me up and gives me solid, stable energy. A meal without vegetables, you ask? Trust me, there are lots of seasonal vegetables in the mix these days. Miso tahini green beans and ratatouille are frequent choices in the summer as are salads with seasonal ingredients.

Interestingly, there were times in my life that I couldn’t eat this meal. I use to have GERD, and the rice and beans would have caused some uncomfortable gas and bloating.

I’ve healed my digestive weakness, and eat in order to support my constitution. I’ve also learned how to properly soak and cook whole grains like brown rice and beans so they’re better digested. In our household, we soak brown rice over night, and beans for 24 hours. We add a splash of apple cider vinegar to the soaking grains. Rinse thoroughly then cook with fresh water. We cook rice in a rice cooker. We put the beans in a slow cooker, cover with water, and cook on low for 24 hours. Add salt to taste after cooking.

IMG_6463.JPG

I recommend digestive enzymes to patients who are in the process of healing their digestive system and tend to get gas or bloating after eating harder to digest foods like beans. I like this full spectrum digestive enzyme by Pure Encapsulations.   The capsules contain a range of enzymes: lactase to help digest lactose, amylase to help digest carbohydrates, protease for proteins, etc. Once the system is strong, the use of enzymes is often no longer needed.

And the effects on weight loss? This meal has been a constant in my focused effort to shed the lingering pregnancy weight. I find that because it has a lot of fiber, protein, and fat, it keeps me full until it’s time to eat again. I’ve reached my pre-pregnancy weight and feel physically fit.

It’s also very easy to keep these items in rotation, and I eat this meal usually once a day, most days of the week. I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. Maybe the Mexican flavor reminds me of my days living in San Diego.

Let me know if you try this easy to make Mexican bowl and what you think!

You are what you eat.

In good health,

Molly

 

Advertisements

It’s a snow day! It’s a snow weekend! So far we have about 3 inches of snow; with 20+ more expected. I love it! We are hoping the power stays on, but while we have it, we hammered out some cooking. Simmering on the stove right now is a HUGE pot of vegetable soup. I’ve been making it a lot lately. It’s easy, it uses whatever you have on hand, and it’s good! It also is a good dish to eat in the winter, as eating warm soups in cold weather allows us to live in accordance with the seasons.

Always start with mirapoix (onion, celery, and carrot – these 3 ingredients should always be on hand, in my opinion).

IMG_3207

Read the rest of this entry »

If it’s Sunday, you can be sure that I will be cooking a big batch of vegetables. In the warmer spring and summer months, I make my version of a ratatouille, but in the colder months I like to make my version of Indian Vegetables.   Living in accordance with the seasons includes eating more warming herbs and spices in the colder months, and Indian cuisine has many.

One of the first things I took away at the start of my degree in Oriental Medicine is the idea that cooked vegetables are easier to digest than their raw counterparts. Cooked vegetables are recommended for weakened digestive systems, and over-consumption of cold, raw foods can damage digestive function.  If food is difficult to digest and /or one presents with a digestive weakness, access to minerals, nutrients, and vitamins is difficult. Cooked vegetables take less digestive qi to process, allowing ease of access to nutrition and energy.

When I weighed over 200 pounds, my constitutional digestive weakness and improper diet of refined grains and sugar, dairy, and greasy/fried food resulted in an accumulation of phlegm-dampness. During the healing process, and ever since, I’ve included as many cooked vegetables into my diet as I can, and it is a constant variable in my health accomplishments. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve written before about holiday cooking verses everyday cooking and weight loss verses weight management. I hear often from my patients that they are “busy”, “don’t have the time,” didn’t “plan well,” etc. Healthy cooking and food preparation are skills. As such, they will get better with practice. I used to get really stressed out about putting together a complete and healthy (and palatable) meal whose parts would all finish at the same time. Today I share my go-to, midweek, casual entertaining, anytime, healthy, delicious, and satisfying meal that has been a consistent part of my life for years – including on a recent vacation!

I like it because these ingredients are always on hand, so this meal is always an option. The ingredients are simple and basic, but quite tasty and satisfying. I can come home from work at 6:15p, and be eating by 7:30pm. Read the rest of this entry »

In eating in accordance with the seasons, we should now be turning our focus to making dishes that are well cooked and warming in nature.  As the temperature drops, we can aid our bodies in digestion by adding more warming herbs and spices and consuming dishes that are well-cooked and warm (as opposed to raw and/or chilled).

If your hands and feet feel particularly cold after a certain meal, chances are it was too cold in nature for your body.  If you feel warmness in your extremities and body after a meal and have good energy, that particular dish helped to support, not extinguish, your metabolic fire.  Matt Stone writes a lot about this topic.  Although he speaks in terms of thyroid and metabolism, many of his observations correlate to the ideas of spleen and kidney yang in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 

The following recipes are intended to serve as a base or outline.  They are the result of my own personal trials.  They will continue to evolve as I hope your creations do too.  The important part is the effort.  Good ingredients cooked with good intention make healthy food.   I particularly like these recipes because they are both vegan and paleo friendly, dairy and gluten free, and yummy!  Read the rest of this entry »

A lot of my patients who are parents ask me for ideas of snacks for their kids.  Since these foods are often packed for lunch or eaten on the go, convenience is a considered factor.  Unfortunately, most convenient snacks are processed experiments disguised as food.  Scientists work hard to make them highly palatable, usually by playing to our preferences for fat, salt, and sweet flavors.   In order to cheaply make a lot of product that has a long shelf life, inferior ingredients are chosen then enhanced by sugar/salt/fat until they taste so good we can’t help but to crave more.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each organ system has a corresponding flavor.  For example, the heart’s associated flavor is bitter, and the spleen’s flavor is sweet.  One must eat the right balance of the 5 flavors (bitter, sweet, acrid, salty, sour) in order to nourish each organ system.  Eating too much of 1 flavor or not enough of another flavor can create an internal imbalance.  So, it’s not that “sweet” is bad.  But too much concentrated sweet, for example, can damage the spleen.

The proper way to eat sugar is when it’s consumed in its “protective gear,” the way Mother Nature packaged it.  Read the rest of this entry »

I have written about the importance of eating in accordance with the seasons as well as the importance of eating cooked vegetables and the effects of eating too many uncooked, raw vegetables especially for those with weakened digestive systems.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) encourages those with weakened digestive systems to focus on easy to digest, cooked, and warming foods while reducing or eliminating too many raw, chilled, and cooling foods.  Why do I write so much about this topic? Read the rest of this entry »