April Vegan Challenge: Final Week!!!

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Hi Everyone!  I can’t believe it but this post marks the finale of our April Vegan Challenge.  It’s been a lot of fun trying new recipes and hearing your experiences.  I’ve been so inspired by your stories!

We did it!!  Way to go!!  Big High Fives All Around!

Along with many of you who experienced health improvements, Dr. Ernie and I also felt great, too. We learned a lot and had fun with it.

For the last three days of the month, I’m posting my family’s most favourite recipes from the month.  This is our victory lap!

There were many recipes that we loved that didn’t make it in these three days!  Yet, I am so grateful to have tried them out since now they will be a regular part of our meals and snacks.  (Hellooo Kale Chips… who knew?!)

If you have your favourites, use this week to enjoy them again.

We are going to keep the momentum going for May.  We are still in spring health mode, so to make the most of this time of year there is one final (smaller) health challenge I’m going to try before the summer hits.  I’ll invite you to join me… so tune in on Wednesday. 🙂

This was such a positive experience that we decided to give it a go next April!  Vegan Challenge 2015!  Yeah!

Click here to view final menu: Final Week Vegan Challenge

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Vegan Challenge – Week 4

Vegan-Banana-Cheesecake-6-ingredients-glutenfree-vegan-and-SO-delicious

Oh, Week 4… Is it really you?!

I can’t believe we are getting ready to go into our fourth week of the April Vegan Challenge.  This is our last full week!  Next week, for the final few days of April, I’ll feature our most favourite dishes from the month for a victory lap.

As for this week… there was just so many recipes I still wanted to try!  You’ll notice this week has a few different soups.  When it comes to vegan soup, there is just a multitude of options.  I’m looking forward to all of the recipes this week!  And let’s hear it for Sunday’s Vegan French Toast.  🙂

Also… we are having dinner guests on Saturday this week (Hi Kim! :D).  Hence, the fancier pasta dish on Saturday night (read: white wine garlic sauce) and banana cream pie.  Healthy food can also be enjoyable and delicious.  Food nourishes the body, the senses and soul… and there’s nothing better than healthy soul food.

Check out Week 4’s Menu Here: Vegan Challenge Week 4

Recipe Resources & Inspiration 

Banana Boats Recipe

Mango Avocado Smoothie Recipe

Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe

Vegan Banana Cinnamon French Toast Recipe

Split Pea Soup Recipe

Chickpea Ratatouille Recipe

Warm Lemon & Shallot Potato Salad Recipe

Vegetable Ramen Soup Recipe

— Instead of Ramen Noodles, I use Rice Vermicelli Noodles

Vegan Enchilada Casserole Recipe

Asparagus Risotto Inspiration

Spaghetti with Spinach and Tomato in White Wine Garlic Sauce Recipe

— I use olive oil in these dishes (rather than the grapeseed oil it calls for)… EVOO + Pasta = Dynamic Duo

Pureed Green Pea Soup Inspiration

Lentil Sheppard’s Pie Recipe

Spiced Nuts Recipe

Banana Cream Pie Recipe

Vegan Challenge Menu – Week 3

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Wow!  Is it Week 3 already?!  Time flies when we’re having fun… I’m really enjoying trying new recipes through the challenge.  I’m also amazed at the recipes that are out there!  This week I’m looking forward to making a number of these great recipes.

For many, the coming weekend brings Easter festivities.  Chocolate… chocolate… chocolate… and this special occasion is also a time for gatherings with family or friends.  I’ve got the chocolate fix covered!  Check out the Paleo Dark Chocolate Nut Clusters and the Chocolate Banana Cream Pie.  Also, if planning a family dinner or contributing to a family dinner, the Friday, Saturday and Sunday dinner options are hearty and vegan options with a festive flare.

Let’s keep the green energy flowing, keep going and keep glowing with Week 3!

Check out Week 3’s Menu here:Vegan Challenge Week 3

Recipe Resources & Inspiration

Granola Recipe

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie Recipe

Vegan Lasagna Inspiration

— I’m going to skip the faux cheese topper and use the “cheese” flavoured nut based filling ingredient + tomato sauce instead.

Silky Black Been Soup Inspiration

Veggie Pad Thai Inspiration

Lentils & Spinach Inspiration

Eggplan “Parm” Rolls Recipe

Pesto Pasta Recipe

Black eyed peas, spinach & tomato Recipe

Stuffed Portabello Mushroom Caps Recipe

Almond, Raisin, Roasted Chickpea Mix Recipe

Walnut Pesto Dip Recipe

Paleo Dark Chocolate Nut Cluster Recipe

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

Flourless Oatmeal Cookies

Vegan Challenge Menu – Week 2

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We are rolling right along into Week 2 of our Vegan Challenge and it has been a great adventure so far!  Dr. Ernie and I are enjoying the increased amount of fresh vegetables in our week.  We haven’t felt like we are missing anything and feeling well sustained.  So far, so good.

How about you?  What types of things have you enjoyed or noticed during this first week?  Post your comments!  I’d love to hear your feedback.

Week 2… Here we come!

Let’s get to it so we can make our grocery list!

 

Vegan Challenge Menu Week 2

 

Helpful Recipe Resources:

Lemon Pistachio Avocado Pudding Recipe

Peanut Butter Smoothie Inspiration

— Also try using almond milk instead of rice milk… and adding a handful of ice!

Marinated Baked Tempeh Recipe

Corn & White Bean Chowder Inspiration

— Where it calls for butter use olive oil or coconut oil.  Where it calls for cow’s milk use almond milk, coconut milk or any other dairy milk alternative.

Creamy Avocado Pasta Recipe

Spicy Nappa Cabbage Recipe

— I sautee Nappa Cabbage to my liking and then give it a good dose of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.  Yum!  You can also skip the hot sauce and sprinkle with cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.

Vegan Tomato Soup Recipe

Sprouted Grain Bread Croutons

— I cut the sliced sprouted grain bread into cubes and roast them on a cookie sheet (plain) in the oven until toasted.  They can also be seasoned or drizzled with olive oil prior to roasting.

Raw Zucchini Pesto Pasta

— A special gadget to get the pasta to look like spaghetti would be nice… but I use a regular potato peeler and make long, linguini-like ribbons.

Raw Vegan Lasagna Stack Inspiration

Thai Hot & Sour Soup Inspiration

Rice Paper Veggie Rolls Recipe

Peanut Dipping Sauce

—- I whisk together equal parts soy sauce, honey, lime (or lemon), almond butter (or tahini), and add a dash of hot sauce

Energy Bites Recipe

Raw Vegan Brownie Recipe

Decadent Apple Slices Inspiration (see picture below)

 

 

apple granola

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

Whipped Coconut Cream Recipe

Raw Pear Cobbler Inspiration

– I’ve made this recipe with pears and love it.  My substitution is maple syrup in place of agave.  This can be eaten as is or warmed in the oven.

Vegan Challenge Menu – Week 1

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Onward we go!!!

We are so excited to start our Vegan Challenge for April!  In this post you will find our menu for week one.  The menu is in PDF format.  If there is any difficulties with the file, please feel free to contact me about it at drlaura@winhealth.ca.

Here are a few things to know… as I prep food for the week, this is what I find helps me get it done.

1) Recipe Flexibility

You’ll find my recipes and inspiration below for some of the more specific recipes.  Sometimes I don’t follow a recipe to the letter. Rather, I use the ingredients I have on hand, or the ones we prefer, to make the dish.  Personally, I have found this method of meal preparation to be more flexible and fun.

2) Resource Recipe vs Inspriation

After each menu I will list all the more specific meal options (e.g. Silky Black Bean Soup).  You will notice the listing will either say “Recipe” or “Inspiration.”  The meals with “recipes” are ones I have made following a recipe pretty closely.  The “inspirations” are meals that I have made that have been inspired by a recipe or picture but made a VEGAN variation of it.

3) Dinner is Lunch

Time is of the essence for everyone!  This is why I love left overs.  A healthy dinner meal makes a great lunch option for the next day.  I pack it up, put it in the fridge and we are good to go for lunches in the morning.

4) Green Juice <–> Green Smoothies

Dr. Ernie and I will be having green juice daily.  This is completely optional… just something we’ve thrown in and included for those who enjoy juicing.  Alternatively, a green smoothie can be substituted.

5) Follow me on Twitter to see us in action!  Post Comments!  Let’s make it interactive!

I’ll be posting little tidbits about food prep, our feelings about the meals we’ve planned (keeping it real!) and other helpful hints as we go along.

Also, I welcome comments on the menu posts… I’ll respond to any questions or concerns you have while we go… posting your comment on the blog will help everyone.  This will also make it an interactive experience.

 

Check out VC MENU: Week 1 here: Vegan Challenge Menu Week 1

 

Here are some helpful recipe resources:

Chia Pudding recipe

– I use almond milk + add 1 tsp vanilla

– After overnight refrigeration, use a fork and whisk the thickened pudding to give it a smooth consistency.

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie inspiration

True Green Smoothie recipe

Pina Colada Smoothie inspiration

Quinoa & Kale Minestrone inspiration

Ultimate Vegan Quesadilla inspiration

One Pot Vegan Pasta inspiration

Baked Chinese Eggplant

Arugula Quinoa Crust Pizza recipe

– Skipping the cheese and topping this with tomato sauce, arugula and olives

Arugula & Roasted Tomato pasta inspiration

Chocolate Pudding recipe

Vegan Banana Split recipe

— Try making vegan vanilla ice cream… there are tons of recipes for this on Pinterest.  Here’s a great, simple easy one I found (option: substitute vanilla bean for vanilla extract).  Alternatively, purchase a dairy free ice cream.

— Place a dollop of ice cream between a banana, sliced lengthwise, and sprinkle with chopped strawberries and pineapple.  🙂

Kale Chips recipe (there are so many variations… explore Pinterest for more recipes).

Pecan Pie Squares recipe

 

 

April Vegan Challenge: Getting Started

Gardening in summer - woman with herbs

We are gearing up to start our Vegan Challenge over the month of April and I thought I’d post these handy tips to prepare.  These are some essentials that I use in making healthy food and I wanted to share them with all of you in advance to starting so we can all get our ducks in a row! 🙂

Keep these helpful little resources bookmarked when preparing plant based meals.  I hope you find this list helpful!  These will be the handy basics that will be included in our menus!

1) World’s Healthiest Foods Veg Recipes

For years I have referred to WHFoods “Side Vegetables” for quick and easy ways to prepare all the green vegetables we can buy in the grocery store.  These recipes are super fast and practical.  A huge time saver!

Check out the link and view the “Side Vegetables” section: Quick Veggie Recipes!

2) Pre chop & wash certain veggies for the week

If you see raw veggies in a snack option for the week… chop it up a few days earlier (when you have time) and put it in a tupperware with water.  This makes accessing them quick and easy.  Chopped veggies submerged in water last about a week this way.

This can also be done for ahead of time prep for the cooked entrees.

3) Raw nuts & seeds (whole or nut/seed butter)

Almonds, almond butter, walnuts, pecans, chia seeds, flax seed, sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter, pumpkin seeds, etc… pick your favourites.  Keep them on hand.  Use the ones you prefer where nuts and seeds are called for.

Nuts and seeds provide nutrient density in a vegan diet through their good fats and protein content.

4) Beans… especially lentils and chick peas.

Another food that adds nutrient density to meals is beans.  We love lentils and chickpeas… so you’re bound to see these.  In week three there is a silky black bean soup that’s out of this world.

I’ll be using canned beans for the sake of saving time, except for lentils.  For those interested in preparing beans from their dried form… that’s awesome…go for it!

If beans bother your digestive tract, consider taking digestive enzymes during these meals.  Alternatively, taking 1 teaspoon of raw unpasturized apple cider vinegar at the time of a meal can help strengthen digestion.  This is a really simple and easy use of a common culinary ingredient that also has medicinal properties.

5) Gluten free grains, especially brown rice and quinoa.  Include rice pasta of your choice.

Grains provide our meals with fiber and nutrients, which helps with satiety.  Again, another staple in a vegan diet.

6) Sprouted Grain Bread (e.g. Ezekiel or Silver Hills)

We love sprouted grain bread!  It’s another nutrient dense food that is also full of fiber.  The sprouting process makes this bread product less allergenic and more digestible than conventional bread.

7) Vegan Protein Powder

This is optional, since all the smoothies you’ll see in my menu are going to be nutrient rich just by way of the plant ingredients used.  However, adding a protein powder can give a smoothie more nutrient density.  For some people this is helpful to keep them satiated until the next meal.  In addition, a good protein powder can help with energy demands and blood sugar balancing for those who have busy schedules and/or exercise regularly.

My two favourite vegan protein powders are Vega One and Sun Warrior Blend powders.  Both can be easily found at local health food stores and grocery stores (e.g. Commisso’s, Zehrs).

Since Dr. Ernie and I are looking to gain a month of detoxification during this challenge, we’ll be using a specially designed protein powder from Thorne Reseach called Mediclear.  It’s a vegan protein powder with added nutriceutical ingredients that support detoxification.  We have this available at WIN.  For more information, feel free to email me at drlaura@winhealth.ca

Ok… so that’s the run down of the “staples.”  Now, let’s get to it!  I’m sending out Week One’s menu on Sunday so we can grocery shop and get set… whether you’re increasing your plant food nutrition or you’re all in and joining our month long vegan adventure, may the (GREEN) force be with you!  And remember to have fun! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Vegan Challenge: Dr. Laura & Dr. Ernie

meadow

Spring is all about a fresh start.  We are going to take this season’s cue and run with it!

More and more we hear about how a plant based diet can lead to health benefits and improve how we feel.  So Dr. Ernie and I are using this inspiration to go Vegan for the month of April.

We want you to join us!

I’m going to help out!  Here’s how we can do this.

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1) Weekly Menu Posts!  Every Monday I am going to post what we are eating for the week.  After more than a decade of passionately studying nutrition, and a lifetime of enjoying the experience of good food, I know there are a lot of awesome recipes out there just waiting to be made.

*** Those who subscribe to my blog will get them automatically emailed to them.  So SUBSCRIBE to get the MENU sent right to you!***

2) Updates and Feedback!  We are on an adventure and we are going to keep it real.  It’s not always easy to do something like this, yet there will also be glorious days of feeling amazing!  We’ll share all the ups and downs and let you know how we’re doing.  This will hopefully serve as a compass for your journey, too.

***I’ll tweet our reactions and food prep on Twitter… Follow me on Twitter @drlauraimola or access Twitter through my “Sweet Tweets” blogroll.***

PLUS YOU!!… Use the Comments section to let all of us know how YOU are doing.  It would be great to start some chatter about what’s working for people and what’s not.  I love hearing from you!

3) Work at your own comfort level!  This is supposed to be inspiring and fun.  Whether you take some of the ideas and recipes and infuse them into your regular diet along with healthy animal protein choices (chicken, turkey, fish) or you join us 100%, the most important thing is to listen to your body and do what you feel is working for you!  Your life, your health, your choice!  Let’s have fun with it!  😉

4) Email me for guidance!  My door is always open.  If you have questions or concerns, feel free to email me anytime at drlaura@winhealth.ca.

 

Ok… so here we go!  Let’s get our GLOW on through GREEN foods!  We start April 1st… check out the first menu post on Monday March 31st!

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