Meatless Monday – Plant-Based YUM!

Some years ago I heard about UC Davis Integrative Medicine, and I am so grateful!

Integrative Medicine takes a whole person approach to health. UC Davis Integrative Medicine’s mission is “to help prevent chronic disease by educating people about how to make positive changes in their lifestyle habits.”

Through their weekly blog posts, recipes, webinars, and 21-day plant-based food challenges, they have helped me learn how to cook and eat healthier, for myself and for my family.

They are not my only resource, of course, but they sure lend credibility to my pursuit of health through eating primarily plants. And they have been a HUGE resource!

For three years, they have held an annual 21-day challenge. At no charge, they provide three weeks’ worth of recipes and nutrition information + a Facebook group to encourage mutual support. The first year I dabbled, but mostly felt overwhelmed; last year I petered out through too much life noise; this year, I’m going for it.

Today is Day 1, which means it’s not too late to SIGN UP! And tonight I will tell you–after a day’s worth of delicious plant-based eating–it’s worth it.

Today I ate…
Breakfast: apple pie oatmeal
Lunch: “fried” brown rice
Dinner: Tuscan vegetable soup + rainbow pasta salad (recipes UCDavis, sign up to receive the full 21-day recipe guide)

This wasn’t the prescribed Day 1 menu, but that’s part of why I enjoy this format. I can pick and choose from their menu; improvise based on what I have, what I want, what I already know how to do well; and eat healthy food to satisfaction.

In the plan, a Berries and Seeds Breakfast Bowl is a breakfast option for Week 2; Thai Fried Rice is Week 2‘s Monday lunch. I did my variation on those recipes, though based on their recipe, I omitted the oil from my rice and added instead more garlic and chili-garlic paste (and I will forever make these changes, as today’s rice was tastier).

I also have a solid minestronehow different can Tuscan veggie be from minestrone?–but thought I’d do dinner on their terms. So glad! Using an immersion blender to pulse it until pureed but for some chunks, this soup might have looked less appealing than some broth-based soups, but it smelled and tasted delicious and, to be honest, required less cook time. Of course I could also whip up a pasta salad without even thinking about it but this combination, with their oil-free Italian dressing (fresh basil, hummus, stone-ground mustard, red wine vinegar, and water to dilute), was a delicious change.

If you’re interested in healthy eating…
If you’re a carnivore who can’t believe plants taste good
If you’re looking for some new recipe suggestions

Sign up for the UC Davis Integrative Medicine 21-Day Food Challenge now!

Tuesday Treat – Vegan Chocolate Pudding

Fried brown rice

Fried brown rice

Nope, this isn’t a bait and switch. I promise to point you to a recipe for a delicious vegan chocolate pudding, but first I’m sharing a Tuesday Treat of a different kind: Fried Brown Rice.

This meal came to me like a miracle this evening. Goofy kid schedules, friends coming and going, phone ringing, Guy at a late meeting, I needed to whip up a quick and easy dinner. Chop some veggies, toss in some precooked brown rice, add some seasoning – voila! And in less than 15 minutes start to finish, happy kids chowed down.

I can’t give you a precise recipe, but this meal is great for cleaning out the fridge. I had a container of brown rice leftover from a couple days ago that needed to be used. I had some veggies – I always have veggies! – in this case, I sauteed some carrots, celery, shallot, garlic, and yellow bell pepper in a wok on the stove top with a few drops of sesame oil for flavor; when veggies began to soften, I added some frozen edamame and peas until they warmed.

I transferred the veggies to a bowl and put the rice in the wok with a few drizzles of natural rice vinegar. Stirring occasionally, when the rice began to get crispy and pop, I returned the veggies to the wok. I quickly stirred in some low-sodium soy sauce and hefty spoonful of Earth Balance (vegan butter). When the EB had melted, I moved the fried rice into a bowl. I would’ve topped it with sesame seeds, but I’m out, so I used toasted sesame seeds instead.

I kept it on the mild side since my kids don’t do spicy, but if you like it hot, add some chili garlic paste while cooking or sriracha to taste in your bowl.

So now the pudding. Last Monday was Groundhog Day. February 2nd roles around every year and every year it surprises me. Of course I don’t have to acknowledge a large rodent spotting his shadow (or not) but if I can scrounge up even a few minutes to plan and execute said plan, I do love a celebration.

I went to one of my favorite cooking blogs, Oh She Glows, and what do you know? Vegan Chocolate Pudding was her post of the day AND I had all the ingredients on hand. Tee hee!

It took minutes to make, and I snuck that avocado into the food processor without anyone walking through the kitchen (sneaky, sneaky!). The guys have their limits; breakfast can be eaten for dinner, but not dinner for breakfast. Similarly, avocados belong in Mexican food or salads, but not dessert. You get the picture.

Angela warns against using overripe bananas – a warning I didn’t heed sufficiently. I thought my bananas qualified as “yellow with a few spots” but the pudding did have an initial strong banana taste; I’ll go for yellower with no spots next time. As Guy doesn’t love banana flavoring (although, funny, he does enjoy a good banana bread), he wouldn’t eat the pudding. From time to time Teen avoids anything “unhealthy” (this doesn’t fall into that category, but some secrets are worth keeping), so he wouldn’t try it.

Which left more for Tween and me!

We both added cinnamon; next time I might add it straight to the food processor as it added such a nice flavor. We also both stirred in coconut, and Tween added a dash of almond milk (not sure why, but he liked it).

Best part? I won Superhero Mom points when I let Tween have it for breakfast the next morning. Before you scowl your disapproval my direction, answer me: truly, why not? Bananas, avocado, almond butter, and a little cocoa powder – if I made it in a blender with almond milk and ice, it could be a smoothie.

Hmm, I might just have to try that!