So you think you that the reason you might not be able to go vegan is that you won’t be able to live without dairy? Well, think again because there are many reasons for you to ditch dairy.
Let me start with why dairy is not an optimal food for human consumption:
1. This is probably the most overlooked reason – it’s a calf’s (baby cow’s) first food.
2. The protein in milk – Casein – has been found to be a possible carcinogen (source: The China Study by T. Colin Campbell)
3. Casein is also highly addictive – producing casomorphins in your brain. These are opiate-like substances that make you feel euphoria creating addiction.
4. Dairy is loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol.
5. Dairy is loaded with chemicals: steroids, hormones, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, antibiotics, veterinary medications, synthetic preservatives, additives, and (possibly most disturbing) white blood cells (aka pus).
6. Contrary to popular belief propagated by the dairy industry it is not a good source of calcium – you’re better off getting calcium from green leafy vegetables.
Having that out of the way let me introduce you to Vegan Cream Cheese – made with no dairy at all.
Pre-soak your cashews in water, preferably overnight, but if you didn't plan ahead you can soak them for 15 minutes in hot water.
Blend all ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth and mixture resembles spreadable cream cheese. It's not going to be as solid as store-bought cream cheese. It will look like softened cream cheese.
Note1: you can play with the flavor. This basic recipe can be transformed into any flavor you desire. You can play with herbs, for example, make one batch with some fresh dill and see it transform into anything you want.
And it’s even better with a side of lentils!
This spread is calorically dense, so that’s why you want to exercise caution with your serving size. You can still overdo it, same as with “the real thing”.
Go ahead, make some for yourself. Here is a visual in a short video I put together.
Do you ever get the feeling that as you grow older you seem to have lost something that used to make your life complete and no matter how hard you try you are not able to find that something in the here and now? Most times you can’t even put a finger on it, it’s a fleeting feeling, a memory, a situation, an intangible and an indefinable emotional state… Other times you know exactly what it is: it’s the way things used to be when they were fresh, new and exciting… Why is it that this feeling had to go away? Because we are surrounded by constant evolution, information overload and “experts” regurgitating the latest truths and discoveries. Most times change is good – when it builds on that feel-good feeling, but other times change covers up what we knew to be true and skews our reality by letting us believe the past can no longer be. We know it’s there, because we get tiny little glimpses of it here and there, only for it to blur into obscurity with new experiences… new situations…. new feelings… new information.
For me, those glimpses happen when I hear my shutter click, which I haven’t heard in years now. I’ve disabled the fake shutter sound my phone’s camera produces because its fakeness is exactly the type of new reality that obscures the reality. Nevertheless, every offspring of my shutterless phone camera brings back those memories of what was. Only how to uncover it all and bring it back to life?
So where is food in all this? Right front and center. To be honest, I’ve been longing to get out of the rut I’m in food-wise. I miss the times when I knew my thing and stuck to my mantra of food is fuel. I’m sad to admit to myself that somewhere in the abyss of thoughtless social media screen scrolling I have lost that conviction. Everybody wants to taste the sweet nectar of colorful, supposedly guilt-free devilish creations that we immerse ourselves in once that screen lits up. It seems that those images look more enticing and tempting than the most provocative body part.
So, I’ve laid aside the social media feed for a while and instead have been scrolling through MyFitnessPal history to where I know my food simply worked because it fueled not tempted with pretty colors. Back then I didn’t display it publicly because it was simple, unexciting and easy… But it worked. So I found a recipe that I used to use for my treats and overnight oats and turned it into a colorful dessert…
Ultimately, that’s what it is. It’s not a breakfast item or even a reasonable treat, it’s way too large – between all the smoothie base, the fruit, and all the other toppings this would probably fulfill half of my energy intake for a day and then some.
You’ve probably seen these smoothie bowls all over IG, Pinterest, and FB. Mine is not as impressive as what you’ve probably seen because I did not manipulate the colors in this picture half as much as what some “experts” do. I’m also not going to tell you it’s a health item because it isn’t.
I encourage you to search for a “how to” video for these smoothie bowls and you will be blown away to find out that they are the ultimate in consumer manipulation. Come on! Purple raspberries? And pink blueberries? They represent fakeness at its best. I don’t deny editing my own pictures, but the transformation that those smoothie bowls undergo is what’s wrong with the perception of reality on social media these days. Not to mention that if you were to eat one of these you probably would not have to eat until the wee hours of the night, it would be that filling.
In spite of my apparent negativity towards these creations, or rather towards the misinformation they spread, I do make the cottage cheese and yogurt base every single weekend, but the amount that I poured in that bowl to take a picture usually lasts me an entire week, as opposed to one meal. I use the smoothie base for my overnight oats, but they are nowhere as exciting and beautiful as the Smoothie Bowl pictured above or the ones floating on social media. So I’ll spare you a boring picture of my everyday breakfast, but don’t be fooled by the pretty colors and the illusion of well-being and health that these try to portray on social media.
Put Cottage Cheese, Skyr and Almond Milk in a large capacity food processor and blend on high until smooth.
Add all the dry ingredients and extract (if using) and blend on high until well incorporated.
Note 1: I use this yogurt base for my overnight oats. I measure out 2 servings of this Smoothie base, add about ¼ cup of milk, 20-30g of dry oats and mix well. I will top with some berries, sprinkle of cinnamon and dust it with stevia if I feel I want it extra sweet. Put in the fridge overnight for the oats to absorb some of the moisture and plump up. This is a perfect breakfast for the coming hot summer days 🙂
Couple of years ago I’ve got sucked into the social media trend and started using Instagram. I had joined the Facebook wagon a long time before that in 2007, but I kept resisting IG for quite a while. I didn’t see the purpose of it, after all if I wanted to share some pictures I would have simply created an online photo gallery, which I did do multiple of times at different sites such as Flickr or Picasa. But, by looking at my sidebar where I feature my IG pictures, you know I eventually caved in and joined in on the fun.
Why am I saying all this? Well, I, like just about anybody out there, am very impressionable by what I see. In other words, if you walk the talk you will have my attention and I will be interested in what you are saying. If you don’t walk the talk and it shows, I will ignore your preachings. And before anybody even begins to form the criticism of that statement by saying that people use photoshop and filters to improve what they put out on IG, let me say that I am aware of that and I believe I can see through it. So, long story short, I’ve been fascinated by a vegetarian bodybuilder for a while now – her name is Geraldine Morgan. In fact, I must give her credit for my Basic Savoury Pancake, because her food posts have inspired me to make one myself.
If you’re following any dietary news, especially in the bodybuilding sphere, you know there is a lot of controversy and dispute as to what’s the best macro ratios for building muscle. In fact, some will argue that you absolutely cannot build any amount of muscle by avoiding meat aka animal protein. Well, have a look at Geraldine and tell me she doesn’t carry a great amount of muscle on her frame! She can easily put to shame not only some women but also males trying to build muscle!
I’ve got so inspired by her posts, her work ethic and simply by her appearance that I decided to go meatless for a week. I would say I did rather well and didn’t really miss meat that much. I’ve actually increased my protein intake slightly, my carbs went up just a notch only because I decided to include some fruit in my morning post-workout meal and I was still able to keep my fats at a comfortable level to stay in a ketogenic state by including a lot of home-made nut butters, avocados, eggs and coconut oil. It was quite liberating not to have to worry about my main protein for a meal – I simply stuck to eggs, my savoury pancake (which can also be called a protein pancake for its high protein content) and last but not least my old time favorite cottage cheese creation. I supplemented liberally with hemp seeds, vegan protein powder, nuts and to a lesser extent with chia seeds. I liked it so much that I think I will continue this regiment into the second week!
And this is an example of what I would have for breakfast every single morning with the exception of the orange which I swapped for blueberries and plums. If you have been following my sweetener resolution you will now know that I’ve only been able to reduce my stevia usage, but not eliminate it completely – I still have a very strong sweet tooth that I am trying to control. I still believe I am doing pretty good and this type of breakfast makes everything better, every single morning 🙂
This can be transformed 100 different ways by playing with flavours.
500g Dry Pressed Cottage Cheese
125ml Unsweetened Almond Milk
Stevia to taste
4 drops of Orange Extract
20g Unsweetened Cocoa
Combine Cottage Cheese, Skyr and Milk until smooth in a food processor.
Add more milk if desired.
Add Stevia, Cocoa Powder and Orange Extract.
Process until very smooth.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Please note even though I am promoting this as a ketogenic meal it is not very high in fat. This DOES NOT prevent it from being a keto food simply because one can add as much fat to this meal as desired. Toppings is where you can play with the fat content.
And as tradition would have it I put it all together in a quick video – actually it ended up being my longest video yet – but I believe that all 8 minutes of it is worth your time! So have a look and give me a thumbs up if you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe for more.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while or following my social media posts, you know that my most notable obsession is making and devouring pancakes. However, they come at a certain price for me – guilt for having indulged is something sweet. There is a certain pleasure in eating my pancakes: they are sweet, fluffy and featuring an array of toppings. I top them with nuts, nut butters, chocolate ganache, coconut purée, coconut flakes, pieces of chocolate, not to mention mounds of cinnamon finished with a crunchy, sweet layer of erythritol. You get the picture… This does not instill any amount of self control in me, I always want more once my pancake is gone. But I promised myself to tone it down, because I want to wean myself off the sweet dependency and be able to taste and enjoy the food’s natural flavour, not some artificially made sweetness.
Like anybody out there I want to have my cake and eat it too, but in my case it’s a pancake: I don’t care for cakes that much. Funny thing, I figured out a way to have it and eat it too – without resorting to any gimmicks, tricks, secrets or other questionable ways – without the guilt of eating a treat. How? I turned my sweet pancake into a savoury dish! Voilà! I’m eating a pancake at least twice a day and it’s not rising my insulin levels or my cravings. Let me introduce to you my one and only Basic Savoury Pancake aka a Wrap.
This is a game changer for me: no more cravings after having my pancake!
2 Egg Whites
½ scoop of Pea Protein Powder
⅓ cup Milk
Whip egg whites on high until slightly stiff
Add pea protein powder and spices and mix until integrated.
Add enough milk of choice for the batter to become quite runny for a pancake that can be swooshed around in the pan for a larger surface
NOTE 1: I opt for using egg white but you can just as successfully use whole eggs. The reason why I am using egg whites is because I like to add fat in the form of avocado, nuts and nut butters. So in essence I am saving my fat macros from the pancake and adding them back in my toppings.
NOTE 2: I am experimenting with different sources of protein lately. Inspired by one of the Arnold Classic competitors I am giving meat a bit of a rest and replacing it with vegetarian options. I still like meat and I am not turning vegetarian or vegan at all, just experimenting with different options. Somebody once asked me if vegans/vegetarians can follow a ketogenic diet and I never did find out, other than googling and getting mixed messages. So, here I am spreading my wings: my choice of protein for this pancake apart from egg white is Pea Protein Powder.
NOTE 3: You can use any milk you wish, I opted for unsweetened Almond Milk. You can add as much or as little as you wish. Thicker batter with not spread very easily on your pan, whereas with a thinner batter (which you will achieve by adding enough milk) you will be able to spread and achieve a larger, more foldable pancake that you can use as a wrap if you wish.
When I first attempted this creation I was a bit sceptical as to how filling this bad boy was going to be, mostly because I’m only using 2 egg whites, so volume-wise it does not seem like a whole lot of food. My regular sweet pancake calls for 250ml of egg whites – so visually, when I start whipping up my egg whites the volume seems incredible – and truth be told my sweet Basic Coconut Pancake is rather large. But I decided to switch things up a little bit for my savoury equivalent. The reason for this is simple – I wanted to concentrate more on the toppings for the savoury pancake rather than use up all my macros in the pancake (that’s also why I opted for egg whites in the batter, rather than whole eggs – I wanted those fats on top). And my toppings for the savoury pancake made the whole dish quite satiating.
And toppings is where it’s at, my lovely readers! The possibilities are endless – let your imagination run wild! Same as being able to switch up the flavour of the pancake by playing with the spices, you can top the pancake with different things every time you make it. The pancake is quite malleable when you thin out the batter enough, so it’s perfect for lunches in place of a traditional store bought wrap – you can stuff it with anything you desire. And, did I say it takes literally no time to put it together? Well, it’s true, you can make it in under 5 minutes!
And as tradition would have it I put together a quick video to show you it really isn’t that difficult or time consuming to cook from scratch:
So what’s my calling? I think I’d be perfectly OK to be the Pancake Lady until I’m old and wrinkled 🙂
Let me start by saying that if you want something bad enough you will do what needs to be done because anything worth having is worth your effort. Forgive the cliché laden intro, but it’s true that nothing worth having is easy. If you don’t care you will not feel inclined to make the effort. It’s when you care that things will start working out for you.
I think I would not be wrong in saying that we all want good health, we all want to feel good in our bodies, many of us want to look good naked, some of us want to have shredded abs. Whatever your goal you will need to make an effort in the kitchen, because your health, your looks and your well-being all start in the kitchen.
I’m exhausted today after a pretty much full day of prepping food, but I did it and here is proof:
I woke up at 5:30AM, just couldn’t sleep. By 6AM I was brewing my coffee and – as usually is the case on a Sunday – I started contemplating going to the gym or taking a rest day. Somehow, it always makes me feel guilty to take a rest day – I feel like I should be doing more to get my butt in shape. The verdict was that I needed to take a day off for several reasons: 1. I had a pile of things to catch up on and 2. I’ve had quite a leg workout the day before (but more on that in a minute).
So I had my ritual pancake and coffee with cream and started devising a plan of action for my food prep. I started hauling all the groceries out of the fridge that were purchsed Friday night and quickly realized that the fridge could use a quick scrub. I don’t know about you, but when I open the fridge and it’s clean and tidy I am more likely to stick to my food plan and be on top of my game. When the fridge is tidy I know what’s what and what needs to be used when. That’s just how my brain functions. So I gave it a quick scrub and proceeded to cook the food. Sometime in the middle of my prep it was time to eat again so I whipped up some scrambled eggs and broccoli and then fished off my cooking which brought me to about 3PM.
So, yes, it was a full day of dancing around in the kitchen – I have to say that’s unusually long, though. And yes, at 3PM I was exhausted. But do I regret any of it? No. It’s pouring cats and dogs today, so as far as I’m concerned if I didn’t do my ritual in the kitchen, I would have been sitting on my derrière and probably stuffing my face with crap. Instead, I have a fridge full of cooked food that will take minutes to assemble and a peace of mind that I don’t need to resort to food served in a work cafeteria or have to pop out to Mary Brown’s for lunch.
Now, let me tell you why I think I was so exhausted at 3PM – food prepping is not by definition an activity that raises my heart rate very high. Walking through the woods does, though! The day before some quality time was needed and so I agreed to do a little road trip to Terra Nova National Park to check out the Outport trail.
The main argument against preparing home made meals is lack of time – I hear it all the time : “I just don’t have the kind of time it takes to cook all these meals!” One of the arguments I make for home cooking is that it will save you time in the long run. Just think about it, if you devote 2-3 hours to batch cook your meals over the weekend, say Saturday morning, you won’t have to do it every day Monday to Friday 🙂 But my main argument for prepping food is that it makes you take care of you (granted you do it the right way) and it keeps you busy! What’s the deal with that, you ask? I don’t know about you, but I tend to eat out of boredom. If I’m sitting around doing nothing I feel like I want to have something do. And instead of getting up to actually do something I reach for snack foods. So, if you are busy making your food for the week you wont be snacking now or later during the week, because you’ll have all the food you’ll need to nourish yourself! Simple. Once you have some sides prepped, suppers during the week also take minutes to put together. Let me show you:
So here you have it, 15 minutes out of your day for a lifetime of health and happiness 🙂 To me it’s worth it, after all, what else am I gonna do?