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Farmer’s Market Challenge:14-day diet jumpstart

In Diet, Editorial, Food on July 15, 2015 at 8:52 pm
Me 2015

Me 2015

Many of you have a “mommy body” which means that you are a bit thick in the middle and flabby everywhere else.  Trust me, I am not body shaming anyone because that is how I describe my body type.  Before having my beautiful boys, I was more of a boy shape which means I lacked curves but I was solid and healthy.  After having the boys, I am a full Rome apple meaning that I am very very round in the middle. There is a 50 pound difference in how much I used to weigh before and now.  Frustrated is the most accurate word that describes how I feel about my body.

Me while dating Alvin

Me while dating Alvin

Since being diagnosed with Lupus, I have been struggling with losing weight.  I may lose 5-10 pounds but it never stays off. Taking various medications over the last few years have not helped with my weight loss either.  For many of the medications prescribed, the side effect it weight gain. Only one of them had a weight loss side effect but believe me, it is no Dexetrim.  Do you remember Dexetrim? The Lupus has also made me afraid to exercise.  I was one of those people who became a member of one of the “$10 a month” gyms. In the beginning, I went with high enthusiasm because I thought it would get me skinny.  Instead I felt underwhelmed with 30 minute workouts because I didn’t lose any weight.  So what did I do?  I pushed to 45 minutes, sometimes an hour workout and I would do this 3-4 times a week.  This is totally not healthy for someone with active Lupus.  I ended up flaring more than once that year so I gave it up.  Then a girlfriend asked me to walk with her 3 times a week for 30 minutes.  I loved it because I wasn’t alone so I felt I had to do it.  What happened next? I flared again and this one hurt a lot and for whole lot longer than the ones before.  It’s been almost 2 years and I have been afraid to exercise ever since.

2014 when I lost 10lbs...I think

2014 when I lost 10lbs…I think

I feel a need for a challenge.  I have been watching infomercial after infomercial about 21-day challenge, Daniel challenge, 21-day fix but I know I can’t commit to that. Here in NJ we have outdoor farmer’s markets that come in town once a week, but they are limited on what they provide. The other farmer’s market are indoor and sell fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, dairy and fresh bread.  I propose starting on Sunday with a new diet that I am calling the Farmer’s Market Diet.  For the next 2 weeks, we will eat food that can only be purchased in your farmer’s market.  How is this a diet, for the most part there are no mass produced orhighly processed food; everything is fresh, simple and if you’re lucky organic.  So no chips, no meat, no doughnuts, no coffee (for many of you that is going be major). The next step is to an add raw apple cider vinegar mixture to your morning routine.  This step will help curb your appetite and cleanse your palette.  Lastly, you must drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water that may include a squeeze of lime or lemon which will keep you hydrated. If you can, please try to do some type of physical activity at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes to jump start your metabolism. This is a real challenge.

a few pounds lighter in 2013

teaching NJT a few pounds lighter in 2013

Why are we doing this? I don’t want us to be an apple. I don’t want us to increase our chances for heart disease. I don’t want us to miss out on life because we don’t feel good about ourselves.  We will lose a few pounds by not eating processed foods. We will jump start a new lifestyle that will help our skin, our hair and our life overall.  Are you on board? Sign up on Twitter, Not Just Tofu Facebook page or in comments on the blog- http://www.notjusttofu.com.  Come on people, I need a support team; I can’t do this alone.  Three days and counting…

May never be this skinny again, but I'm proud

May never be this skinny again, but I’m proud

Where I’ve been: NYC Foodie Adventure

In Editorial, Event, Food, Local Eats, New York on July 14, 2015 at 4:23 am

I always think I haven’t been up to much, especially because I’ve been sick, but then I look at the pictures.  The pictures say that I have met a celebrity chef at a food festival.  It also looks like I’ve been to a local foodie hot spot, Chelsea Market. So I guess while I wasn’t blogging, I was out exploring the world around me with hopes of being able to write about it.  So let me walk you through it as best I remember it.

Young Love

Young Love

Alvin and I celebrated our 13th year of marriage this past May.  When Alvin and I dated we connected over food.  He being new to the country, he didn’t know a lot about international cuisine.  I remember one of his infamous lines “I don’t eat what I don’t know.”  The foodie in me just couldn’t accept this so almost every date involved eating somewhere new. Thirteen years later, he loves to eat international food.  His favorite thus far has got to be hummus and grape leaves.  So I planned for us to celebrate over a new food experience.  We got in my car and headed to NYC to go to an outdoor farmer’s market, a food festival and a vegan restaurant. Unfortunately, my plan went a whole new way.

Me and Chef Marcus Samuelson

Me and Chef Marcus Samuelson

Waking up earlish is not early enough if you want to get parking so that you can visit and outdoor farmer’s market in the city.  We must of drove in circles for 20 minutes trying to find public parking with no luck.  That being said, we moved on to the food festival, Harlem Eats 2015.  Not wanting to pay for admission, it limited what we could do but what would be the point of paying for food that most likely you wouldn’t eat because Alvin is vegetarian? Trying to make light of the event, I went around and took pictures. The highlight of the day was meeting Marcus Samuelson.  I have always wanted to meet a celebrity chef; surprising to me how nervous I was to approach him for a photo.  It was hot, a lot of people were trying to take a picture and he looked like he had been doing it for a good minute.  With Alvin’s encouragement, I asked for a photo and Alvin took the picture below.  My only regret is that I wasn’t smiling.

WP_20150517_14_17_45_ProAfter that, I guess we were ready to do something else but what? Then it dawned on me, let’s go to Chelsea Market.  When we arrived at Chelsea Market, I was giddy like a small child going to Disney World.  I couldn’t believe that I had finally made it. I loved it; the market was prettier and busier than I expected it to be.  I love the smell of all the different foods.  Alvin wasn’t as excited but I knew it would come when we got to the cheese shop.  Cheese is to Alvin what pork is to barbecue.  Lucy’s Whey was a wonderful place!  We found some wonderful goat cheese, we bought $25 worth.  I got excited when we got to the Spices and Tease spice shop.  So many spices, such rich aromas, they even have tea.  We spent $35 on 4 bags of spices.  Side note – the spices are such good quality that we want to go back.  Lastly we arrived at an Buon Italia, an Italian market, where we bought vinegar, more cheese, French lentils, who know what else because that was almost $60.  We walked, we nibbled on free samples and finally stopped at Amy’s bread, a bakery where we bought a loaf of bread and rice pudding.  I don’t think we liked the bread as much as everything else we bought but it’s OK.

Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market

I thought I could talk about my other adventures in this article but I’ve been a bit wordy already.  Honestly writing about that day has made me think more about writing.  I really did have fun that day.  We finished the day by crossing back over the bridge and ordering another $40 bucks worth of Greek food from It’s Greek to me and yes Alvin order hummus and grape leaves. It was a costly day for folks on a budget, but we don’t regret not one minute.  In fact, we are planning to go back and try the stuff we didn’t get a chance to eat.

Recipe: Mock Chicken Salad Sandwich

In Food on March 26, 2015 at 9:33 pm

I know it doesn’t feel like it yet but spring is here!  Winter is fighting hard to stay but spring is putting up a fight to come out in the Northeast.  Today it was 60 degrees and cloudy but the sun will come out this weekend even if it only gets to 50 degrees.  This type weather is ideal for sandwiches.  My husband has a dream that one day we will open sandwich shop for all my sandwich creations.  This was one of my best sandwiches and the bonus is that they are vegan.  Please let me know if you like it.

Yummy

                              YUMMY

SLAW RECIPE:

  • 1/4 cup Vegan Mayo (I like Just Mayo)
  • 1 cup of Green Cabbage
  • 1 cup of Red Cabbage
  • 1 Golden Delicious Apple, peeled and julienned
  • 1 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of White Cane Sugar
  • pinch of salt & pepper

CHICKEN SALAD:

  • Vegan Chicken Strips
  • 1 tsp of oil
  • 2 tbsp Red Onion, minced
  • 1 stalk of celery, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt, pepper, paprika
  • 2 tbsp vegan mayo
  • Kaiser Roll

RECIPE

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the slaw and refrigerate
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet
  3. Saute onions and garlic for one minute
  4. Add in vegan chicken strips
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes
  6. Take of heat and let cool
  7. Add mayo and seasoning to cooled mixture
  8. Toss in celery and let chill for 30 minutes

ASSEMBLE

  • Kaiser bun, chicken mixture, slaw

Serve with a pickle, kettle chips and some lemonade

The Dirty Dozen

In Food, Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm

How often have you heard that eating healthy is expensive? It can be especially if you want to eat organic. Before you spend your whole check on organic produce, read on to find out what to buy organic, how to prep what you buy and clean all your produce.

Farming involves a lot more science than in the past. With chemicals being included in the fertilizers and pesticides, some fruits and vegetables are more susceptible to absorbing them into their flesh; these fruits and veggies are called the Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen are suggested to buy organic by farmers, doctors and dieticians.

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Grapes
  4. Cherries
  5. Lettuce
  6. Nectarines
  7. Peaches
  8. Pears
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet bell pepper

So now that you saved a few bucks don’t waste your savings by throwing them a way. It doesn’t really make sense to use your whole pay check to buy what you may never cook.  It makes more sense to spend the money on what you can use quickly, eat instantly, or last long like potatoes.  If you can’t use up all the produce, freeze it. I buy bell peppers but sometimes I can’t always use them up before it they go bad. So I cut them into strips or dice them up, put them in a good quality freezer bag so that I always have them on hand. Hard leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens can be frozen raw; wash, dry, cut and store in a good quality freezer bags. For everything organic or not organic, wash with a fruit and vegetable wash. Of course you  can buy one but you can also make one for a few pennies. A simple wash to remove pesticides is simple as a soak of warm water and sea salt. Use one tspn of sea salt for every cup of water and let them soak for a few minutes.  You can also use a mixture of water, baking soda and lemon juice that you can store in a spray bottle. Dont worry, it wont change the way they taste. With berries, if you are not going to eat them right away or freeze them, wait to wash them until you are going to eat them because they will spoil due to the moisture.

Fruit and Vegetable Wash

1 cup of water 1 cup of vinegar Juice of 1/2 lemon Shop wisely,  prep mindfully, cook deliciously and eat well.

Review: 3 Great Cookbooks

In Editorial, Food, Publications and Blogs on November 19, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Anybody who knows me, knows that I have a real addiction to cookbooks. My addiction has made me buy cookbooks that aren’t so good…I am trying to be polite. So instead of buying cookbooks, I have been borrowing cookbooks from the local libraries. It is awesome! I borrow, I try recipes and than I rate. I have found 3 cookbooks over the last couple of visits that I am very excited about. I rate them on layout, photos, practical application and just plain fun.

trisha yearwoodThe first cookbook is Trish Yearwood’s, “Home Cooking” which is wonderful; truly written for a home cook. Even though this is not a vegetarian cookbook, there are great sides and desserts that make this book awesome. Recipes like fancy cornbread will accompany your chili recipe. The cakes are great for company; I made the key lime cake for a Sabbath lunch and we were happy not to eat another yellow cake. I think this book is great for beginners because the pictures excite you and the back stories connect you to the recipes. Plus, she also has recipes for homemade candy which will make great presents for teachers, coworkers and service people.

vegan dinerThe second book is “Vegan Diner” by Julie Hasson which is a vegan’s dream for a cookbook. I learned how to transform homemade seitan because of this book. Her recipes for seitan can teach you how to make mock pastrami, pot roast and just regular seitan that can serve as comfort food for both vegans and vegetarian. It is also because of this book that I bought my first can of nutritional yeast which she uses to make a mock mac-n-cheese; I bet that is one of the things vegans miss most. It’s got great pictures so you know what things should look like. It is also great for dessert because she has recipes for cookies, pies and brownies. Even vegans have a sweet tooth. To find out more about Julie, visit her website http://www.juliehasson.com/

dirt candyMy last cookbook is “Dirt Candy” written by vegan chef and restaurateur,Amanda Cohen. I first saw her on Iron Chef America where she opened my eyes to the true abilities of vegetables. Chef Amanda Cohen concepts on vegetables are inspiring and not for the beginner but for those who know their way around a farmer’s market and a kitchen. Lemon Confit, vegetable nest, etc… are just a few that make we want to go cook right now. The layout of this book is fun because it has a comic book/ anime illustrations weaved in between recipes. Visiting her is recipe is on my bucket-list of places to eat. Dirt Candy is located just over the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan. Not close to NYC, visit her blog at www.dirtcandynyc.com.

So this holiday season, make the foodie in your life happy by purchasing one of these great books; I know I would be happy. Any reader wanna add to my library?

Taste Tested: Trader Joe Gluten Free Snickerdoodles

In Editorial, Food, Products on September 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm

wheatWhen I got diagnosed with Lupus, I started to research diets that would help me manage my new condition. I asked my doctor about removing gluten from my diet, he said that there were no medical research that supported removing it would help my condition. After that visit, I realized that my doctor was not open to alternate methods of management. Other people with this and other autoimmune diseases testify that removing gluten from your diet helps to fight inflammation. So in spite of my doctor’s opinion, I started cutting back on the amount of gluten I ate. Prior to my diagnosis, I had realized that wheat was not my friend because it would leave me bloated. For a good run I would eat one or less servings of gluten a day. I can’t say that I saw any great difference but I continued until I returned back to school when I ate out of convenience.

What is gluten? Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye barley and sometimes oats. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease when the body can not digest the gluten protein because it causes inflammation of the intestines. A person does not have to have Celiac disease to have an adverse reaction to gluten. Some have a gluten sensitivity like me which limits how much gluten a person can eat before they start to feel similar symptoms like inflammation of the intestines. Why are so many people going gluten-free? Gluten has been known to cause fatigue, aches and a lack of concentration. Some argue that it is due to the way that wheat is processed but I have read articles where Europeans suffer with Celiac as much as Americans. Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are not new, it’s just recently doctors have been able to diagnose it accurately.

snickerdoodlesFor me eating less gluten is optional, but for others a gluten free diet is mandatory. I have a friend whose son has to live egg-less, soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten free. I took it upon myself to create or find a cookie he could eat. I spent a good bit of time trying to bake, buy and taste gluten free baked goods and let’s just say some where good and some well….were not fit for human consumption. Then I stumbled upon Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Snickerdoodles which are not only gluten free but vegan. I have tried these cookies with those who have and don’t have allergies and both have given them the thumbs up. I bought a box for my friend to try with her 2-year old on a special diet and he liked them too. These are the only cookie that are moist, flavorful and don’t finish with a heavy grit and aftertaste found in most gluten-free baked goods. The price point is great too because they are only $2.99 which allows you to buy 2 boxes.

I am still working on a homemade version of gluten free cookies but none have met my criteria for a good cookie. As soon as I bake it, you will know.

Taste Tested: Nutrition Bars

In Editorial, Food on July 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

How many of you have found yourself so hungry and on the go that you will eat almost anything to kill the hunger?  I am one of the worst offenders.  It is crazy what you will do for your kids but not for yourself.  When you have babies you will pack multiple meals and forget to pack something for yourself.  Since Lucas has diabetes, I always keep snacks in the car for him and nothing for myself.  So I finally took my mother’s advice and started to carry granola bars in my bag.

As I was shopping in Whole Foods, I decided to check out nutrition bars.  Nutrition bars are not to be confused with power bars which can be very chalky and dry.  I was surprised to see the development and variety of nutrition bar over the last decade. So I decided on the much talkedd about Larabar, gluten-free  Kind bar and Luna bar created for women.

Image

Larabar: I chose the chocolate coconut chew flavor.  This was not my favorite. It looked so moist but taste so….well not so good. I think that if I were a die hard vegan, I would enjoy the texture, the natural sweetness made from dates and the dark chocolate which I really don’t like. I tried but I will not buy this again. I give this bar 1 star out of 4

kind bar

Kind Bar: I chose the Madagascar Vanilla Almond and this was a nice surprise.  It was like someone took my favorite nuts, mixed them with honey and vanilla and formed them into a bar.  I ate this before taking on my hour long hill hike and it held me. The texture is good, the taste is delightful and I would buy this again.  I gave this bar 3 out of 4 stars.

Luna Bar: OMG this was the BEST BAR EVER!!!! Why you ask?  I chose white chocolate and macadamia nut and I didn’t even feel that I was eating a nutrition bar. The chocolate was sweet but not excessive and enough nuts to make me decadent.  I love white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies and if the healthier version is a Luna Bar, I am ok with this.  Hint: don’t leave the bar in a hot car because the chocolate will melt.  I gave this bar of 4 out of 4 stars. Luna Bar

 

What I like about these bars is that they average $1.00 to $1.50 making it affordable to buy a bunch at a time.  All are gluten free which is great for a gluten sensitive system like myself.  Most are vegetarian and even vegan plus they come into so many variety that everyone can find what they like.  So never be hungry again; grab a bar and go.

Recipe: Simple Swiss Chard Saute

In Cooking Tips, Food, Recipe, sides on June 14, 2013 at 12:37 am

Are you tired of eating spinach? Have you had your fill of kale? I know I was in search of another green fix.  I use leafy greens as a source of protein, antioxidants, calcium and iron since I am known not to eat enough of any group.  If you are a vegetarian, leafy greens are your best friend because they provide a great amount of protein along with beans.  In my research, I also found out that Swiss Chard is full of vitamin K. Vitamin K is good for muscle and bone growth which concerns me especially because of my Lupus.  Vitamin K is also essential for maintaining cell growth.  You can have a vitamin K deficiency but you can turn that around by adding vitamin k dense foods such as Swiss Chard, Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower and Kale.

So my question is, how many of you have tried Swiss Chard?  At the farmer’s market, I would pass this colorful stemmed bouquet because I never tasted it.  Finally at Trader Joe’s, they had a bag of washed and chopped rainbow Swiss Chard that look manageable. I thought “how hard can it be?”  Come to find out, it’s pretty simple.  A few cloves of garlic, lemon juice and you got a pretty tasty side. Lesson learned: don’t be afraid of new produce.

006Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag of Swiss Chard, chopped and watched
  • Juice of 1/2 of  lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Recipe:

  1. Heat olive oil in saute pan
  2. Saute garlic until fragrant (make sure not to burn)
  3. Add Swiss Chard and saute
  4. Squeeze lemon juice over hot greens
  5. Season with salt and pepper
  6. Cook till tender to the bite

Product Review: Teavana

In Editorial, Food on January 17, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I have a confession to make…I don’t like coffee. I find  it bitter like burnt chocolate.  Among my friends, you will not hear us say let’s go out for coffee; most of my friends don’t drink coffee either.  Interesting fact, most Seventh Day Adventist don’t drink coffee because of the caffeine.  Caffeine is seen as a drug and reasonably so due to its addictive characteristic and  it’s effects on the body over time.

In the past, I would drink an ice coffee along with my 2 liquid Advil to rid myself of a migraine.  After visiting a neurologist, she made me give up all caffeine. Even though I thought it was helping me, she let me know that the caffeine was feeding a craving my body had developed  for caffeine when it ran low in my system.  I can honestly say that my new regimen which also includes a medication has been my most successful attempt at ridding myself of migraines that would usually last for days.

teapotSo what do I drink you ask? I drink tea.    My most recent adventure  lead me to  Teavana which is the Starbucks of tea.  This tea boutique sells various types of loose tea that they sell by weight and tea brewing accessories such as teapots and cups.  Brewing a top-notch cup of tea takes a few more minutes than seeping a teabag but the taste is so worth it.    Before Teavana,  I would have to drink packaged herbal tea and loved the brand Stash teas but it does not match to loose tea leaves.  Why tea?  They are a healthier way to break a fast hence the word break-fast, drinking something warm gets rid of the gas that accumulates overnight. Some people don’t believe it but most West Indians drink tea in the morning for that very reason. Try it for 2 weeks and let me know if you notice a difference.  Even though the teas I drink are not all 100% caffeine free, they don’t amp me up.  Drinking iced teas have less sugar than drinking a cup of juice.  Herbal teas have medicinal benefits:

  • peppermint tea helps to calm ease a stomach ache
  • chamomile tea helps calm stress
  • garlic tea breaks up mucus
  • ginger tea eases upset stomach

What are my favorites? I started with a Chai white tea blend: Samurai Chai Mate & White Ayurvedic Chai.  I use this blend to make a soy latte with brown sugar and vanilla soy milk;  this is a great morning perk. For the holidays, I treated myself to  Strawberry Rose Champagne Oolong Tea which is an elegant slightly fruity tea that I am tired of drinking peppermint tea.  My ultimate favorite is the caffeine free Berry Mint Cassis , a rooibos tea, which is good both cold and hot.

teavanaPicWhy Teavana?

  • Health benefits of  the variety of teas 
  • Educated store personal
  • Specialty tea tools

Turkey-Less Roasting

In Cooking Tips, Editorial, Food, Products, Recipe, sides on December 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm

It’s almost Christmas which means another celebratory meal is around the corner.  I realize that a lot of 1st time vegetarians will be out there wondering what to cook.  I guess it depends on how good a cook you are.  You can make your own seitan turkey if your really good.  Most purchase a retail version of a turkey roast.  I was in Whole Foods the other day and found that Gardein makes a Turkey Roast.  I like Quorn’s roast for those of you like me who can’t eat soy.  There is of course the mother of the movement – Tofurky.  Before these readily available versions, there was Worthington Dinner Roast which  doesn’t look like a roast but taste good.  In my West Indian Family and community, we are not big turkey eaters but if we do eat turkey it better have good gravy.  I give credit to the beautiful and simple gravy to help turkey and mock turkey taste good.  So I am re-posting the recipe for the “Full Proof Gravy” as a gift from Not Just Tofu to you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of seasoning salt (Lawry’s preferred)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth

Recipe:

  1. Melt margarine or butter in sauce pan
  2. Add celery, garlic and onion to melted butter
  3. Cook till soft
  4. Dust vegetables with flour and cook for 1 minute
  5. Slowly whisk in vegetable broth
  6. Season broth with seasoning salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper, onion and garlic powder.
  7. Let simmer until slightly thickened (if too thick, slowly add more broth)

www.gardein.com

quorn roast tofurky worthington dinner roast

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