Vegetarian Dinner Challenge + Mushroom & Lentil Soup

Happy Meatless Monday! I recently just finished a 5-Day Vegetarian Dinner Challenge program with on-line coaching and recipe support. The goal of the program wasn’t to convert everyone to vegetarianism, but to learn about the benefits of adding more plant-based meals to your diet. I provided the grocery shopping lists and recipes and the participants cooked and learned about plant-based diets. I’ll be sharing some of the most popular recipes in the upcoming weeks, hopefully inspiring more people to adopt Meatless Mondays and learn how to cook more meals without meat.

For today, if you are looking for a quick and easy, plant-based meal, this recipe is for you. Here are 3 highlights for this soup:

  1. Mushrooms – A great substitute for meat in most recipes, mushrooms are lower in calories to help with weight management. They also block tumor growth and have anti-estrogenic activity; regular consumption of mushrooms (as little as one mushroom per day) has been shown to decrease breast cancer risk by up to 60-70% – wow!
  2. Lentils – As a plant-based protein powerhouse, 1 cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein and is an excellent source of cholesterol lowering source of fiber.
  3. Kid friendly – This recipe got rave reviews from my nephews! One in particular had 3 bowls for dinner and then wanted to bring it in his thermos for lunch the next day at school!

MushroomLentilSoup_ReniHealthCoach

Mushroom & Lentil Soup: Serves 3-4

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. white button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup of green lentils
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh parsley – optional
  • Salt & pepper – to taste
  • Baguette – optional

Directions:

  1. Rinse lentils in cold water
  2. Bring broth to boil with lentils with 2 cups of broth, reduce to medium heat and cook until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender and remove from heat
  3. Add olive oil to a pan and heat, cook garlic and onions over high heat for about 2 minutes
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add mushrooms, salt and pepper, let cook while stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes
  5. Move mushroom and onion mix to pot with the lentils
  6. Add 2 cups of broth, bring to a boil
  7. Reduce heat to low and serve
  8. Top with fresh chopped parsley – optional
  9. Tastes great with a slice of crusty, fresh bread – like a baguette

Question for you: Would you like to learn more about plant-based diets and get simple recipes to try? Join me for my next Challenge!

Cheers³

Reni

Spring is in the Air + Colorful Veggie Stir Fry Recipe

Spring has arrived in Portland! It has been so exciting to see blooming flowers and hear birds singing.  Here are three healthy ways to celebrate spring:

  1. Go outside for fresh air and a walk
  2. Make a meal with some seasonal spring veggies
  3. Stop, breathe and smell the roses (or tulips or daffodils)

SpringFlowers

I know there are many areas still thawing out from winter, but spring is coming, and boy is it great when it arrives!  If you are unable to enjoy some spring sunshine outside, perhaps you can try this Colorful Veggie Stir Fry recipe to tide you over until the snow melts.

Colorful Veggie Stir Fry – Serves 2

ColorfulVeggieStirFry

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of kale, chopped
  • 4 cups of purple cabbage, chopped
  • 3 carrots (I used heirloom carrots for an extra pop of color!), chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos (optional)
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced (optional)

Directions:

  1. Wash and chop all veggies
  2. Heat oils in large skillet over medium high heat
  3. Add onion and garlic, stir for 1-2 minutes
  4. Add cabbage and kale, stir 2-3 minutes
  5. Add carrots, stir 1-2 minutes
  6. Add red bell pepper, stir 3 minutes
  7. Mix in brown rice
  8. Divide into 2 bowls, top with Liquid Aminos and green onions if desired, and enjoy!

Question for you:  What are you looking forward to most this spring?

Cheers³

Reni

An Update on 2015 Goals + Book Cover Reveal

Do you set goals?  Many people commit to New Years Resolutions at the start of each year and end up losing steam for various reasons after a few weeks.  One reason people struggle in achieving their goals is that they don’t have an accountability system in place to keep them moving forward. One way I hold myself accountable is to document my goals on my blog each year.  Sometimes my goals are personal, sometimes fitness related – take a look at my 2015 goals listed here.  By putting my intentions out there I am more motivated to stick to them, and by putting them on my blog I hope I can motivate and connect with others who have similar goals.

My top goal for 2015 is to write a book.  As an English major in college, this has always been a dream of mine, but I thought it was unrealistic seeing as my career has not necessarily taken me down the path to be a professional writer.  Then at the end of last year I had the opportunity to enroll in the “Launch Your Dream Book” course at Integrative Nutrition, the school where I completed my Health Coach Training.  The book class offered education in the art of self-publishing and an accountability system with a schedule that would lead to a published book by the end of the 6 month program.

My progress:  I’m just over halfway done with the class, and I’m well on my way to having my book launch on Amazon.com by the end of April!

A big surprises from this experience is that the actual writing of the book is only the start of the journey.  There is a number of steps once you finish writing the book that need to happen after to publish a book including:

  • Editing
  • Formatting
  • Cover Design

I’m happy to share my Book Cover design, hot off the presses today – what do you think?

Eat Like A Champ  - Book Cover Design

 

I’ll continue to share news about my book as we get closer to the launch date.

Question for you:  Do you have a big goal for 2015?  Put it out there and commit to taking action!

Cheers³

Reni

21 Day Detox Results + a Roasted Beet Recipe

During the month of January, Matt and I decided to start the new year off with a 21 Day Detox.  We took on the challenge to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol, animal protein, dairy and eventually even grains.  We followed a detailed menu plan consisting of whole foods, primarily fruits and vegetables and adhered to a specific supplement plan.  We enjoyed some new recipes, like Zucchini Cashew Soup and Roasted Beets (see below).  We also tried some new ingredients, like Kombucha Squash and Tempeh.

As a happy side note, Matt lost 23 and I lost 11 pounds!  I am feeling amazing, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with these results;  I wasn’t expecting anything this dramatic since this program does not include a fitness component.  This just proves that nutrition is probably more important than exercise when it comes to health and wellness overall.  I’ll go into more specifics after this recipe, which is a new favorite, courtesy of the Ultimate Reset 21 Day Detox Menu Plan:

Roasted Beets – 2 servings (as main meal) or 4 servings (as a side item)

RoastedBeets-ReniHealthCoach

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of beets – peeled and cubed
  • 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Himalayan salt – to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Arrange beets in large glass baking dish
  3. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil, mix well
  4. Bake for 45 minutes or until tender, stirring halfway through
  5. Let cool for 20 minutes
  6. Add parsley and lemon juice and gently stir
  7. Serve warm or cold

 

Back to the 21 Day Detox Program.  It’s divided into 3 phases, each one lasting 1 week.

The first week as tougher than I thought it would be.  I’ve completed and enjoyed 3 day cleanses in the past, but this was much more intense.  I was cooking a lot more than usual and using all new recipes.  I was jumping back into work after an extended holiday break.  And I wasn’t able to workout, since part of the process was to allow my body to rest and recover – this was tough for me as I was used to daily exercise routine.  Although I was warned, I was still surprised at day 3 when I was having major headaches and feeling very emotional!  Once a day we needed to drink an alkalinity green beverage to help balance our systems, and as a result I noticed my skin and hair was more oily than usual.  Apparently this is all part of the process…  out with the bad, in with the good.  The good news was that I was NEVER hungry!  The meals were very filling, and I had increased my water in-take which helped curb my appetite.

By week 2 we had eliminated all animal products and had moved past the emotional roller coast from week 1.  I was feeling great!  There was still a lot of cooking, but I found my groove with prepping ingredients in advance and had mastered a few of the recipes we were using frequently, like the microgreen salad for lunch.  The supplement protocol during week 2 included a detox drink 3 times a day, which did not taste great, but helped further cleanse our systems.  I also noticed I was sleeping more soundly and feeling more energized.

Week 3 was a little harder since we eliminated whole grains – I missed my quinoa!  But the vegan meals continued to be very filling, and thanks to all the work we’d done to balance and cleanse our systems, our bodies were processing fuel more efficiently and it was taking less food to feel full.  Throughout the program we were allowed to have one snack a day, but until this last week, I didn’t need one.

It has been over a week since the program officially ended, but here are a few healthy habits we picked up:

  1. Super Hydration:  I’m pretty mindful of my water in-take, but during the cleanse I increased it even more.  I was probably drinking of 100 ounces of water a day!  I’m continuing to have a big glass of water before every meal.
  2. Vegan Recipes:  While I’ve added whole grains and legumes back to my diet, I still haven’t had any meat or dairy since January 7th!  I’m not sure if this will be permanent lifestyle change, especially as I introduce fitness and running back to my routine, but I’m open to see where this will take me.  Matt hasn’t been as strict with this, but he continues to stick to vegetarian meals most days, and even packs a healthy lunch the night before to take to work with him.
  3. Reduced Cravings:  Interestingly, I thought I’d be craving meat or cheese (thanks to my hardy mid-western roots!), but I really haven’t noticed this.  I also haven’t missed my nightly glass of red wine with a side of dark chocolate.  I’ll admit I did have both this weekend (so apparently wine trumps cheese), but overall my consumption of these goodies have been reduced.

I really enjoyed the 21 Day Detox journey.  I feel like I’ve started off the year in a very healthy way and have adopted several new nutrition habits that will serve me well in the months ahead.  I have a clean slate to being training for my 2015 races and will start building my plan after a few weeks of PiYo to get back into a fitness schedule.  I will take on this challenge again in the future.  If the 21 Day Detox sounds like a good fit for you to build some healthy habits and clean up your nutrition, leave a comment to this post and I can answer any questions you might have.

Questions for you:  Have you ever considered a vegan diet?  Why or why not?

Cheers³

Reni

Drumroll Please…

My blog has been nominated for a Liebster Award!  Thanks Katie @ GlamGirlGlow,  I appreciate the shout out.

liebster

The Liebster Award is a great way to share the love and support one another within the blog-o-sphere community. I think I’ve been nominated in the past, but I’ve never paid it forward with a response post because I didn’t really understand the rules.  I apologize for dropping the ball back then; now I am clear.  Here are the rules:

  • Answer the 11 questions posed by the blogger that nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers.
  • Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you.

Let’s do this!  Here are the Q’s and my A’s”

1.  Pick an actress to play you in the movie version of your life–why?  Answer:  Emily Deschanel, the actress who plays Dr. Temperance Brennan on the TV Show Bones.

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I’ve been told I look like here (which I’ll take as a compliment) and sometimes I act like her character on Bones (not sure if that is really a compliment?).

2.  You have unlimited funds.  Describe your dream vacation (aka, where are you going?).  Answer:  This is a tough one – there are so many places I’d love to go!  It might be a tie between a European excursion, with plenty of time in London, my favorite city in the world (I studied abroad there in college) and a road trip along the West Coast with plenty of walks on the beach with my Greyhounds, Lucie and Buddy.

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3.  One random fact about you.  Answer:  I used to play the oboe in grade school.
4.  What super power would you have?  Answer:  I’d like to be able to hit the pause button on my day so I can get more done;  or conversely hit fast forward to Friday some weeks.
5.  Who or what is your biggest inspiration?  Answer: Long distance runners.  I admire anyone who can stick to a training plan for months to accomplish their goal of running a Half or Full Marathon.
6.  Top three favorite movies.  Answer:  1)  Christmas Vacation, 2)  The Heartbreak Kid, 3)  Anchor Man

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7.  What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?  Answer:  Pet Lucie!  My dog usually wakes me up.
8.  What is your favorite quote?  Answer:  “If it came from a plant, eat it.  If it was made in a plant, don’t.”  -Michael Pollan.
9.  Favorite book?  Answer:  Bitter is the New Black, by Jen Lancaster
10.  Name the one app you can’t live without.  Answer:  The Weather Channel App.  We don’t have a yard, so we are walking dogs at least 4 times a day; those walks are more enjoyable when dressed appropriately for the weather.
11.  Tell us about your most interesting travel experience.  Answer:  A few years ago, Matt and I traveled to Ireland with some friends.  We had the chance to stay with some locals, visit different parts of the country, and enjoy some Guinness (it tastes better there – I swear!).  It was so much fun, we’ve been trying to figure out when we can go back.

 

And now for my nominations, based on some of the blogs I’ve been reading lately:

  1. BayRunner Jamie
  2. Blog Runner
  3. ChiGirlFit
  4. Healthy Living and Good Writing
  5. Mouthwatering Fitness
  6. Jane Like to Run
  7. Recipe Muse
  8. Rungry
  9. Running to Ramble
  10. Stressed Baker
  11. Zero Waste Chef

And here are your questions:

  1. What is your favorite food?
  2. What is your favorite song, band, or musician?
  3. What is your favorite vacation destination?
  4. What inspired you to start your blog?
  5. What is your dream job?
  6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
  7. Do you have any pets?
  8. What is one goal you have for 2015?
  9. What is one accomplishment from 2014 you are proud of?
  10. What is your favorite holiday?
  11. What is your favorite TV show?

I can’t wait to see your posts and learn more about my fellow bloggers!

Cheers³

Reni

 

Food and Medicine

I’ve shared many recipes that include powerful ingredients that can help prevent disease and illnesses, such as these 3 recipes:

  1. Baked Purple Potato Fries,
  2. Roasted Broccoli,
  3. And my favorite Simple Kale Salad.

Eating more fresh fruits and veggies offers many benefits, including strengthening your immune system, so increasing the amount of fruits and veggies eaten every day is one of the first things I tackle when working with my clients as their Health Coach.

But sometimes no matter how much kale we eat, we get sick and have to go see a Doctor.  Most times this Doctor’s visit will end with a prescription in your hand.

DrugFacts-Perscription

The American Recall Center is hosting National Drug Facts Week (January 26th– February 1st) to help spread awareness and start a conversation about pharmaceuticals. In this spirit, I’d like to discuss the importance of understanding prescription medications.  In my Health Coaching practice, I focus on educating my clients on whole foods and how a healthy diet can help improve your overall wellness.  I help people understand how food impacts their health.  The food you eat can impact your health, and so can the medications you take.  As a Health Coach, I’ll never tell a client to stop taking their medication.  But I do encourage my clients to feel empowered to understand their medications.  It is important to talk to your Doctor and even serve as your own advocate and do your own research when possible to be fully aware of any side effect and long-term impacts.  Improper use of medication can cause serious health problems.

DrugFacts-Emergency

Additionally, doing some research about your medications, including those you are taking long-term, and talking to your Doctor about side effects is very important.  As an example, Xarelto, a blood thinner, has some very serious side effects, including uncontrollable internal bleeding that can lead to death.

During my training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, we watched a documentary film that shed some light on the Pharmaceutical Industry and helped provide some valuable insights and considerations.  To celebrate National Drug Facts Week, I highly recommend checking out this free, on-line documentary called “Big Bucks, Big Pharma” to learn more about your medications and talk to your Doctor if you have questions or concerns.

Question for you:  What did you think about the documentary?  Was there a particular aspect that stood out for you?  Let’s start the conversation!

 

Cheers³

Reni

 

 

Getting Ready to Race in 2015 & a Pre-Race Pesto Recipe

I’ve been taking a short break from running while I complete my 21 Day Detox this month, so I’ve had some extra time to refine my goals for 2015. From a running perspective, my goal is to run over 500 miles for the year with at least 6 races, including one Half Marathon. I am psyched to start training soon, so I signed up for my first 2015 race over the weekend, the Rock-n-Roll Portland 10K in May.

Having a race to train for and look forward to has always been an integral part of running for me. I suppose it stems from my background in team sports; I’m used to training for a specific event. While it is fun to run just to run, I find I’m more dedicated when I know I need to be ready for a race. As I finalize my 2015 racing schedule, I’ll begin to blog more about training. Today, as my excitement grows anticipating my first race of the year, let’s talk about pre-race rituals. I was recently asked about my pre-race routine by my new friends at Casper mattresses, a company that “re-imagines the experience of purchasing a mattress.”  Check them out!   They have created a mattress that ships right to your door in a box the size of a mini fridge;  as someone who lives in a high-rise building, the thought of moving big furniture gives me a headache, so I’m seriously considering a Casper mattress when the time comes for a new bed!

Here are 3 key components to my pre-race ritual:

  1. Pinterest: The days before a race I usually have some nervous energy. To help me relax, I search for running related pins on Pinterest and I’ll add motivational quotes to my Fitness board. I’ll also look for cute running apparel and cool gear to add to my Style board and pick something out as a “reward” for myself after I finish the race.
  2. Sleep: Once my pre-race jitters have calmed down a bit, it’s time to hit the hay. I try to get at least 8 hours of shut-eye the night before a race.  Knowing the butterflies in my stomach might wake me up early on the big day, I also focus on getting a good night’s sleep the days leading up to the race as well, so I start my slumber party at least 48 hours before my event.
  3. Fuel: I have learned the hard way that I need to pay close attention to what I eat the day before and the morning of my races (Remember the time I had mussels the day before the Whidbey Island 10K and got food poisoning?  That was extremely rough!). One of my favorite pre-race dinners is my homemade pesto with quinoa and grilled chicken.

Pre-Race Pesto – 2 servings

Pre Race Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 big handfuls of fresh basil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds

Directions

  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend well

Servings Suggestion

  • Mix with 1 cup cooked quinoa and divide into 2 bowls; top with slices of grilled chicken and a few halved cherry tomatoes – yum!

 

Question for you:  Do you have a specific ritual you follow before a big race?  Let me know!

Cheers³

Reni