Greek Oil Free Pasta Salad

Need a simple and fresh pasta salad for summer? This was a tasty and dill-icious light dinner and would be perfect as a side for a cook out or party. It’s only a few ingredients and it comes together quickly, so I’m glad I put these things together because it definitely works! I used High Carb Hannah’s oil free tzatziki sauce as the dressing and used whole wheat Penne, cucumber, tomatoes, and blanched broccoli with some extra dill and you can add onion, chickpeas, asparagus, olives, or whatever veggies you’d like. I served it cold, but it could also be served warm if you prefer.

Greek Pasta Salad

1 lb whole wheat Penne

Handful of grape tomatoes, halved

3 Persian cucumbers, halved and sliced

Head of broccoli, diced

1 tsp dried dill

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Blanch broccoli in the microwave for 3 minutes and cook pasta 2 minutes less than directions.

2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and add tzatziki sauce when ready to serve. If you add it to early it might dry out.

Hannah’s Tzatziki Recipe *slighted changed*

1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced

1 tsp dried dill

1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 20 minutes

Juice of one lemon

1 tsp minced garlic

1/3 cup water

1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Vegans in Vegas, baby!

Bellagio

Bellagio

This past weekend we were in Las Vegas for my best friend’s wedding and I was really excited for more vegan options available for us to have. I did some research and asked others what restaurants were favorites, but unfortunately most of them ended up being off the main strip so we didn’t want to taxi or Uber there. There were definitely more vegan options than our area still, so that was a plus. I did know that the Wynn and Encore had a vegan menu for each of their restaurants because Steve Wynn is vegan so we learned it was easier just to take a (long) stroll from Caesar’s Palace to have a for sure meal option. If we ever go back to Vegas, I’d love to just stay there so that every restaurant will have an easy meal option.

When we arrived, we were starving and wanted to go somewhere in our hotel quickly before I went to the bride’s room to help, so we went to Beijing Noodle Co. It had big tanks of goldfish when you walk in, and we got vegetable spring rolls and I asked for them to make a tofu vegetable noodle bowl because I couldn’t find anything on the menu that I was looking for. It was really oily and the tofu just tasted like a sponge that absorbed water or oil, couldn’t tell. I of course ate it because I was so hangry at that point I was worried for other’s well-being if I didn’t, but it wasn’t as good as our local Chinese take out and for a lot bigger price.

Bejing Noodle Co.

Bejing Noodle Co.

For dinner, we walked around MGM for a bite to eat before going to the welcome party in a suite there. The more we walked around looking at places, the more confusing it got so we ended up going to a restaurant called Crush because I thought it looked romantic and pretty. They had a vegan menu but it had about 3 choices on it, so I asked if they could make a vegetable flatbread without cheese and they did. It was good! Not worth the price, but it did the job.

Crush MGM

Crush MGM

Suite at MGM

Suite at MGM

The next morning we woke up and decided to actually do more research before we spent that much money for food so we would have better luck and have more options, so we started walking to the Wynn. I found a vegan menu online for Terrance Pointe Cafe and I’m so glad I did because it was amazing! They had a vegan menu and the atmosphere was elegant and beautiful. We had a view of the pool and we got a vegan Belgian waffle with berries and spilt a side of breakfast potatoes and vegan sausage. I also got tea that was a cute little tea teepee from Tea Forté. It was the best breakfast we’ve had in so long!

Terrace Pointe Cafe

Terrace Pointe Cafe

img_2401That day Josh picked up Chipolte from the Venetian food court on our walk back so he could do school work in the room and I went to go get ready for the wedding with the bride and had some peanut butter crackers for a snack, which was poor planning because it was a late dinner. After a beautiful wedding in Red Rock Canyon, we went to a private dinner at Carmine’s at Caesar’s and my sweet friend had already called ahead to ask them for two vegan meals. They brought platter after platter of food, and by then everyone was chowing down. They brought out bread, and salad for us with oil and vinegar as dressing. Then they brought a platter of gluten free rotini in a chunky tomato sauce, and then a huge bowl of sautéed garlic broccoli. We ate SO much I felt like I needed to be rolled back to the room, so I’m glad there were so many speeches and it gave me some time to digest before walking back! I didn’t take picture because I didn’t want to be rude in front of a table of people.

The next morning we ended up walking back to the Wynn for breakfast to have a sure bet and we were eying the French toast the day before. There was a very drunk and disorderly guy who I think never went to bed the night before and came to breakfast ready to rage, so after almost knocking over a table and yelling fight songs, the staff talked to him and I’m pretty sure asked him to leave. He began pleading and said he would pay for everyone’s breakfast who was sitting around him who he disturbed. Score! We had vegan French toast with berries, breakfast potatoes and tea, thanks drunk guy! Delicious and maybe even better than the waffle. I’m glad I did carbo load since I ended up walking 26,400 steps that day!

Terrace Pointe Cafe

Terrace Pointe Cafe

I went to the pool for most of the afternoon so I skipped lunch and had some rice crackers in the room for snack that I brought and we got cleaned up and walked to the Bellagio and Cosmopolitan, then all the way back to the Encore for dinner at Wazuzu. We had a 30 minute wait so we threw some money in the slot machines and walked around, then we were seated and I was really excited about the great looking vegan menu options. We got the Gardein chick’n and cabbage pot stickers and shiitake roll with vegan eel sauce for appetizers and those were my favorites of the meal. For dinner I had the tofu drunken noodles, and I wasn’t super impressed. The amount of oil they had on them was too much for me and it wasn’t as flavorful as I was hoping for.

Wazuzu @ Encore

Wazuzu @ Encore

Wazuzu @ Encore

Wazuzu @ Encore

Wazuzu @ Encore

Wazuzu @ Encore

After dinner we walked back to the Wynn to meet friends for a drink before going back to pack and go to sleep before a busy day of travel. We went to the bar in the lobby and ordered Dakota’s favorite drink called The Dream. It has a candied hibiscus flower, St. Germaine liquor (my favorite), and champagne. For $22, it had to be good champagne! It was tasty, and after that we were ready for the walk back and part ways for the journey home.

The Dream @ Wynn

The Dream @ Wynn

It was an amazing time with beautiful friends and I’m so glad we got to witness such a meaningful and breathtaking wedding! The food of course wasn’t the focus, but it was really nice to try some new vegan selections while we were there and I wanted to tell you all about them in case you trek out that way. After a weekend in Vegas, I’m planning on napping for the next few days, so happy summer everyone!

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Café Sunflower

Yesterday I met my bestie Dakota for lunch at a vegan restaurant in Sandy Springs, GA called Cafe Sunflower. She’s getting married this week in Las Vegas so we were talking about plans and details and it’s going to be beautiful! We’re so excited to go!

I’ve never been to an all vegan restaurant before and it was so nice to have a whole menu of items to choose from instead of just one or two like usual. It was overwhelming and I couldn’t even decide! The atmosphere was really clean, calm, natural, and hippyish which is funny because she used to be the hippy one. It got packed while we were there, so it’s a really popular place for an assortment of delicious vegan food. They have a large menu with appetizers, juices, burgers, wraps, salads, paella, Asian dishes, Mexican dishes, and a kids’ menu.

First we split the tofu and vegetable steamed dumplings and they were really flavorful, tender, and delicious. I ordered a second order to take him for Josh to try.

Dakota got the black bean quesadilla and I warned her some vegan cheeses taste weird, but she said it tasted great! That it was like a regular quesadilla. Another thing I love about her is she’s not picky. She didn’t care if it was a vegan restaurant, she likes any kind of food as long as it’s good and it was! After 20 minutes of indecisiveness, I finally chose the Portobello Wrap which was grilled portobello, tomato, spinach, lots of avocado, and basil pesto in a warm pita wrap with a side of chips and a dill cucumber salad. It was really tasty!

I would definitely recommend this restaurant for vegans and non vegans, it’s amazing food that everyone will enjoy. Josh wants to go next time! I ordered a chickpea burger with a side of sweet potato fries for him and took it home and it looked great as well. He gets to enjoy that for lunch today. I loved trying a new place with so many options to choose from, which makes me wish we had more vegan places in our area. I’m looking forward to trying more in Vegas!

Atlantis Veg-antures

IMG_1206.jpgAs still a semi-new vegan, travel is something I get a little anxious about food-wise. Atlantis has an option to call the chef’s office 2 weeks ahead of time to let them know of any dietary needs but I figured vegan is something that is getting common enough that they can make things work and I was right! With thousands of people milling around the resort each day, they did a better job accomadating me than the restaurants we went to in Florida which is saying something. I wanted to write a blog post about the vegan finds that I ate while in Atlantis and the restaurants we went to so that it may help anyone else who wants vegan travel advice.

Tip #1: I always look at menus before I go anywhere to see my options/how I can edit something to work. In this case, they have so many restaurants on property that I looked at the website to find as many menus as I could and wrote down a few restaurants that looked like they would be good options. You’ll have to make reservations far in advance.

Tip #2: Keep things simple. At home I try to make something different every night with different ingredients, but when away just get something that will fill you up and fits in your lifestyle. Of course you want to enjoy delicious and new things on vaca, and that happened, but sometimes it’s just a matter of what can work.

Tip #3: Tell the waiter or restaurant beforehand so they can help guide you in ordering something that can work for you. Most of the time they can come up with a solution to make an item vegan or create something new.

Tip #4: Don’t stress about it! At home you can eat exactly how you want and that’s your choice. I for one haven’t been eating oil when I cook at home, but I knew eating out at restaurants I was bound to eat oil in most everything I ordered. I asked a few places to go light on oil or asked if it could be made without it, and other times you just have to do it and know that it’s temporary and you can go back to eating exactly how you want when you get home. I didn’t want that to ruin my vacation!

We got to Atlantis late Wednesday night and we were ready to have something quick for dinner when we arrived. Most places were already closed, but we found Olives was still open so that’s where we went. I ordered a flatbread pizza with marinara and whatever veggies the chef wanted to add. The waitress asked the chef if it could be done and they said it could, and it was good! They added lots of spinach, chopped asparagus, garlic, and mushrooms. However, the Goombay Smash was not the drink I remembered and was way too sugary for my taste!

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This was my typical breakfast for the few mornings we were there. We went back to Olives to have breakfast since we didn’t want to wait in a mile long line for Poseidon’s Table buffet. They had a big menu, but everything had meat and dairy so I ordered the Continental Breakfast with wheat toast and this beautiful fruit plate and a cup of hot tea. I put raspberry jelly on my toast and it kept me full til lunch!

The first day we explored the resort and found an awesome pool called The Coral Pool with a swim up bar and a DJ. We got the last chairs available and so we didn’t want to move, so we ordered lunch by the pool. Josh and I got the black bean burger topped with guacamole and vegetable chips. It was alright, nothing amazing but it kept us satisfied. Sorry, some food pictures did not get taken before I chowed down, but I tried to remember!

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For dinner we went to Cafe D’Angelo for Italian. It was a really nice restaurant and as a starter they brought out fresh bruschetta and focaccia. YUM! I asked if they could make a dish with whole wheat penne, marinara, and vegetables and they did. It was filled with different varieties of mushrooms, broccolini, spinach, and peppers. It was one of the best things I ate there. IMG_1319.jpg

The next day we ate breakfast at Olives again so I had the same thing, then took a long walk around the property. It’s so well maintained, tropical, and gorgeous. There’s something to see wherever you are so it’s a lot to take in. It’s relaxing, but there’s also a ton to do if you want to stay busy.  We ate, took walks, went to the pool and beach, and did the casino thing at night.

That day for lunch we went to the Lagoon Bar and Grill that is located by the pool and I had a grilled vegetable sandwich and added avocado and mustard. I had some chips and a side salad with it. Again, it was okay, so we figured the lunches just weren’t going to match the nice places we went for dinner but it kept us full. IMG_1290.jpg

We went to Chopstix for dinner and the service was awful. We had edamame, vegetable dumplings (my TJ’s ones are better), but the wok-fired tofu udon was really good. I ordered it without the oyster sauce and they made a soy based sauce for it instead. IMG_1332.jpg

The next morning I wanted something different for breakfast so we tried Poseidon’s Table buffet. Luckily the line was short and it was a huge buffet with a lot to offer. I got a piece of raisin seed toast with jelly, grits (made with water), fruit, and home fries topped with spinach, mushrooms, and onions with guac and salsa.

For lunch we wanted to stay by the pool so we had a late salad. I ordered the grilled veggie chopped salad without cheese and got balsamic.

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Good thing I got a light lunch before the best dinner of the week, or month..maybe year. Nobu is definitely well-known for a reason. We saved it for the last night and I’m so glad we did! It was so delicious and there was so much variety on the menu. I could order many items right off the menu and everything we got was fabulous. I got a cup of miso soup for my appetizer and then shared the mushroom sizzle plate, which was a pile of different kinds of mushrooms on a hot skillet tossed in a citrus soy sauce and topped with few grilled asparagus. It was packed with flavor and cooked to perfection.

I also got the hot dish of mixed vegetables in a garlic sauce and added tofu. It was beautiful and really tasty. Josh usually doesn’t enjoy tofu, but he really loved this dish. IMG_1417.jpg

It’s all served family style, so everyone can get what they want and everyone can try it out. For sushi, my family ordered the kinds they wanted and I got the vegetable roll. It was my least favorite item that I ordered because of the herb that was inside and we couldn’t tell what it was. I was disappointed because they’re known for their sushi, but everyone else LOVED theirs. I was already full from all of the other yummy things I ordered, so no big deal there. Overall, it was all of our favorite out of the restaurants we went to there.IMG_1420.jpg

This morning before we left we went to the buffet at Poseidon’s Table again because it’s SO much fast than Olives. We didn’t have time to waste before our car came, so it was a good way to get in and out. I had fruit, toast, and grits then had to say goodbye to a beautiful place!

After my frustration with my food during my last vacation, this proved to be a success. I was happy I could stay on track pretty easily and everyone was helpful. The service there is on Bahamas time (very slow) but the people are so nice and it’s an amazing place to stay. Hope everyone had a relaxing spring break! Back to reality tomorrow!

Now we’re home and even though I was tired I wanted to eat something homemade and healthy. I made lentils and rice with mushrooms in the rice cooker because it’s really easy and quick prep, but comforting and hearty. I decided I needed more veggies so I stirred in a few cups of baby spinach right as the rice was done so that it wilted right in. I also added a little more veggie stock so it was a little creamier than I usually make it.

Beach Meal Planning for HCLF

Sprouted Toast with PB2 and Berries

Sprouted Toast with PB2 and Berries

Vacation time! It’s the first vacation in our amazing year of vacations that we have planned and we’re going down to the beach near Seaside, FL. We’re so ready for a week of sun and relaxation in one of our favorite places. We love going down in the winter when it’s not so crowded and you can take leisurely walks on the beach, grab tea and shop around town, get into any restaurant, and bike ride. HOORAY! The one thing making me anxious about all of these trips now is food. Being vegan, it’s going to be more challenging to eat out so I downloaded the Happy Cow app that helps find vegan restaurants wherever you are. I’m hoping that helps us traveling this year, but luckily on this trip we’ll be able to cook in which will help save money and the fat/salt used in restaurants.

Today I hit the 5 pound mark, so that’s how much I’ve lost in the 4 weeks I’ve been high carb low fat. It’s slow going, but that’s the most sustainable kind of weight loss so I’m happy about it! Also, I haven’t felt deprived for one day so it doesn’t feel like a chore. If you lose a pound a week, that’s still 52 pounds a year! I’m trying to meal plan on vacation so that it doesn’t hinder progress, because I know it’s easy to be on vacation and just let loose and give up your goals because food and drinks are better on vacation. I still want to be able to go out for some meals, but bring things with us to have on hand. Here’s what I have planned so far-

I’m going to bring some staples down and then buy our fresh produce while we’re there.

Breakfasts– I’m going to pack some rice cakes, shredded potatoes, sprouted bread, and then get fruit and jam down there. That way we can make hash browns, toast, rice cakes with jam, and fruit for breakfasts and then figure out if there’s any restaurants that have options to go out. Don’t think the Donut Hole is going to be an option now.

Lunches- I’m going to pack lavash and hummus to make veggie sandwiches, and we can buy sauce and veggies to make lavash pizzas. We’ll also have leftovers, and I already know there’s a vegan food truck if we want to grab something in town and sushi is always an easy option.

Dinners- We love going out for dinner on our beach vacations, because it’s so relaxing to go watch sunset with a drink and then have a great dinner. There’s so many delicious restaurants in the area and we have our favorites we like to go to each time. We’re planning to go out two nights and stay in two nights, and we could always go on the beach to watch sunset before our dinners in. It’s about the experience, right? I’m going to precook rice to pack and a can of beans so that we can make burrito bowls one night, and then a package of brown rice noodles, a bag of frozen stir fry veggies, and make teriyaki sauce to make noodle bowls another night. These are easy, few ingredient recipes that fit in our diet and are easy to plan and pack. When we go out, I’ll be looking for vegan options and ask to go light on the oil.

Snacks– Unfortunately we’re missing the farmer’s market, so we’ll have to get our produce elsewhere. I’m planning on bringing some pretzels and hummus, rice crackers, and corn tortillas to turn into chips and salsa for snacks and always have fruit on hand. I always have dates on hand for a sweet.

Let me know if you have found any great vegan options in that area!

Vegetable, Avocado, and Brown Rice Sushi

Vegetable, Avocado, and Brown Rice Sushi

Vegetable, Avocado, and Brown Rice Sushi

I feel so accomplished!!! I’ve always wanted to make sushi myself because we usually go out for sushi weekly and it gets pricy and it’s something we crave. Today was the day! I watched High Carb Hannah’s video on how to make sushi and it seemed pretty easy, and it actually was. I used my new rice cooker and cooked a batch of short grain brown rice and I think I made enough for both of us all week… guess I need to work on how much to actually cook. The sushi tasted so fresh and had a great texture with the sticky rice, crunchy veggies, and creamy avocado. Life hack, I’m going to save thousands on sushi now! Hooray!

Vegetable, Avocado, and Brown Rice Sushi

                           Makes 4 large rolls

about 4 cups short grain brown rice, cooked and warm

8 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar

4 sheets of Nori for sushi, Whole foods

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 medium avocado, sliced

3 Persian cucumbers, julienned

2/3 cup shredded carrots

2 cups Spring mix

2 scallions, sliced

low sodium soy for dipping and grated ginger

  1. Mix the brown rice with the vinegar and stir, let it sit a few minutes to get sticky but you still want it warm so it’s easy to spread.
  2. Put a piece of nori shiny side down in front of you with the longer edge closest to you, and use a rice paddle to spread the rice in an even layer and leave about 1/2 inch on the far side empty.
  3. In the center, smash in some slices of avocado in the rice so it sticks, then add a few pieces of cucumber, carrots, few scallions, and a small handful of spring mix.
  4. Wet your finger and use it to wet the empty edge farthest from you so it stays closed.
  5. You are going to start rolling your sushi, squeezing and pushing the fillings in as you roll, and then press gently to seal.
  6. Wait a few minutes to ensure a good seal and then use a sharp serrated knife to slice (sawing motion) the roll into 1″ wide pieces.
  7. Sprinkle sushi with sesame seeds and dip in soy to enjoy!
Vegetable, Avocado, and Brown Rice Sushi

Vegetable, Avocado, and Brown Rice Sushi

All That, For How Much???

Loaded Veggie Hash Browns

Loaded Veggie Hash Browns

Happy sunny Sunday everyone! I made some simple recipes today, Josh was up sick most of the night so I was cleaning the house today and cooking meals for myself. I decided it was a good night for soup to help the sick! It was pretty much all he ate today and I hope it helps (I added extra garlic, that helps right?)

This HCLF thing so far has been really easy because it’s not using deprivation and you don’t feel like you’re on a diet because it’s literally the opposite of every diet I’ve ever tried. I get to pick what I want to eat (as long as it’s whole food), I eat until I’m full, and it tastes great. Diet? What?! It sounds too good to be true, but when I entered everything I ate for the whole day into My Fitness Pal it makes sense. You will not BELIEVE how much and what I ate today for the amount of calories it actually was. It’s less calories than I ate on Nutrisystem…and let’s just say the food is a little bit better. That is the power of whole food calorie density and choosing plant foods over processed. IT’S CRAZY! Just guess how many all of this was! (Answer at the bottom) I also had two dates with my afternoon tea and a Gingerade Kombucha before breakfast. Here’s recipes for today’s meals.

Loaded Veggie Hash Browns

1 1/2 cups Shredded Potatoes, frozen at TJ’s (just potatoes)

1/2 yellow onion, diced

3 button mushrooms, sliced

few handfuls of baby spinach

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Saute onions in about a tbsp of water until semi soft and add the potatoes, mushrooms, spinach and salt and pepper.
  2. Stir until everything is tender and cooked through, then press it down and let it sit until it forms a little crispy layer on the bottom, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Serve with a side of ketchup or sauce of your choice and fruit.
    Broccoli and Brown Rice

    Broccoli and Brown Rice

    This lunch was really simple, thrown together in few minutes without dirtying a pan, and filled me up. I didn’t love the Ponzu (citrus soy sauce) on this and would probably just do regular low sodium soy next time.

     

    1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup of broccoli florets

handful of shredded carrots

1 green onion, sliced

2 tbsp Ponzu sauce

1/2 tsp garlic powder

sprinkle of pepper

  1. Add the broccoli, garlic powder, pepper, and a tbsp of water into a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes on high.
  2. Add carrots and I used leftover brown rice to the bowl. Put it back in the microwave for another minute.
  3. Add sauce and and sliced green onion and mix.

I also used chopsticks to practice eating rice with chopsticks, it slows me down which helps me realize when I’m actually full.

Chickpea and Veggie Noodle Soup

Chickpea and Veggie Noodle Soup

This was SO tasty! I didn’t use any oil, but I did use a tbsp of Vegetarian Better Than Bouillon Chicken Flavor and it made it so flavorful and delicious. It was the perfect soup to help anyone feel better. I served it with a piece of whole grain baguette for dipping!

1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained

1 bag of 4 Vegetable Medley, frozen at TJ’s

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 minced garlic cloves

8 oz Brown Rice and Quinoa Fusilli, TJ’s

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

2 bay leaves

32 oz vegetable broth, Whole Foods brand has no oil

1 cup water

1 tbsp Vegetarian Better Than Boullion Chicken flavor

pepper to taste

  1. Saute onion in a few tbsp of the veggie broth and add the garlic in as well.
  2. Boil the pasta in a separate pot and cook 2 minutes less than noted.
  3. When tender, add the veggies, chickpeas, broth, water, leaves, boullion, and spices. Bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, turn it back down to a simmer and add pasta.
  5. Time to eat! YUM!

 

Answer: 1,210 calories. FOR ALL OF THAT.