Cooking Therapy

Ok, so today I spent at least five hours doing one of my favorite things: cooking. I like to spend time on Sundays preparing meals for the week, but haven’t been able to actually “cook” in a while. I took my time and put together breakfast and lunch items for the week. I’m one of those people that usually makes a few staples and builds around them. Dinner is usually a huge green salad with mixed veggies and nuts, olives, or avocado. I like to try new recipes, and usually end up modifying them. I also like simple recipes made from whole foods and ingredients I tend to have on hand.

Here’s what I made today:

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

http://www.paleoplan.com/2009/12-03/paleo-pumpkin-muffins/

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These came out moist and delicious. I’m a sucker for pumpkin, and I don’t care that it’s Summer. I modified these by only adding 1 tablespoon of raw honey instead of the 1/4 cup the recipe calls for.

Banana Vanilla Bean Pancakes

http://paleomg.com/banana-vanilla-bean-pancakes-with-mixed-berry-compote/

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These pancakes are fabulous! My favorite vegan, gluten-free pancakes are made with oats so they’re off limits for the next few months. I’ll settle for these any day. I modified them by adding chopped raw almonds and using ground vanilla bean I had on hand instead of scraping a whole vanilla bean. I also skipped the compote and opted for raw organic blueberries instead.

Spinach Sweet Potato Egg Nests

http://paleomg.com/spinach-sweet-potato-egg-nests/

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These were fun to make. The recipe was already vegetarian, except for the bacon fat which I obviously didn’t use. I swapped it out for coconut oil and sauteed fresh organic baby spinach and half an onion instead of using the frozen spinach and onion powder. I’m excited to try these! I chose to make them because they’re portable and convenient. There’s also something about baked egg that is delish.

Vegan Cashew Cheese

http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/1004407/easy-vegan-cashew-cheese-recipe

This came out yummy! I used half a lemon instead of the whole lemon, and skipped the lemon zest. Even still, it was a little much. I also added half a cup of fresh basil to the food processor with the other ingredients and used this to put on top of the lasagna I made. 🙂

Veggie Lasagna (from scratch)

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Vegan/Paleo Baba Ghanoush (not pictured)

http://paleodietlifestyle.com/baba-ghanoush/

This came out absolutely delicious! I roasted the eggplant whole over an open flame on my stove, and was blown away at how easy it was to peel after soaking it in cold water for a few minutes. The tahini was optional and although it is made from sesame seeds I decided to use it. I’m glad I did. Tahini along with roasted eggplant is what makes the dish. I’m planning on eating this with veggies or on top of my salads. Yum!

Anyone who is at all familiar with the Crossfit culture knows that Crossfit and paleo go hand in hand. As a Crossfit newbie, I was sure the paleo diet would be pushed on me from day one. I turned my nose up at the thought of a paleo diet because of the copious amounts of meat consumed by those that eat this way. As it turns out, my understanding of the paleo style of eating was incorrect, and incomplete. Furthermore, it has never been pushed on me by my coaches. However, about a month into Crossfit I felt depleted of energy. There was one WOD where my legs felt as though they would not leave the ground. At this point I went to one of my coaches and we talked food. As clean as I was eating, we came to the conclusion that I was not eating enough in general, and that my body was not able to sustain the grueling workouts I was taking on with my diet the way it was. At this point, I made a compromise I wouldn’t feel guilty about. I made the decision to incorporate organic, free-range, pasteured eggs back into my diet that I buy from farmers who raise their animals as nature intended and do not feed their hens soy. I also agreed to incorporate a whey protein supplement from free-range, grass-fed cows. I still do not do dairy or any other sort of animal product, and these are the only type of eggs I will eat. The rest of my diet is vegan. It just didn’t make sense to kill myself in the gym and neglect the dietary aspect of it all. At the end of the day my ethics aren’t going anywhere, no matter how hard I work out.

Even before this point I had cut out many foods over the past year. I started off as an “unhealthy” processed-food-eating, soy loving vegan. I’ve cleaned up my diet quite a bit, and now consume no soy, wheat/gluten products, caffeine, or added sugar. My diet is rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, and plant protein. It’s amazing how simple the body is. If you don’t eat crap, the body doesn’t crave it.

So after learning about what TRUE paleo is, I was able to see how many similarities there are between the two ways of eating. I developed a respect for people who truly follow the paleo principles and go out of their way to seek meat from animals raised in a humane way. (I still have a problem with eating meat at all, but this is far more respectable than eating factory farmed meat). And as it turns out, aside from the meat, people who eat paleo eat a lot like I do. I read this amazing article that helped change my perspective.

http://experiencelife.com/article/paleo-vs-vegan/

I’ve decided to take on 8 weeks of a vegetarian version of the paleo diet to see how it affects my workouts, muscle gains, and my energy level, AND to prove it is possible. This means no grains, legumes, dairy, sugar, alcohol, processed foods, corn, safflower or soy oil, or seeds. I’ll be posting recipes along with my WODs for those that are interested. Lucky for me I love to cook/bake, and am entirely used to adapting non-vegan/vegetarian recipes to my needs. It’s all going to come down to dedication and a little extra planning.

Wish me luck!