Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Nothing in this world, and I mean NOTHING, gets me going like empowering other women through nutrition education. And my favorite topic of all to drive home goes a little like this:
YOU CAN EAT AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO EAT, AND MAINTAIN YOUR IDEAL BODY.
Sure, there's a caveat here and there.
In order for this to remain true, you have to consume - by large majority - foods of a certain quality (that is minimally refined, whole-foods). And your "ideal body" has got to fall within reasonable expectations of what a natural human physique was intended to look like (trim, and somewhat toned). But even so, this declaration is mind-boggling to most people living, breathing, and eating in today's society.
And better yet, that lifestyle effortlessly keeping you slender, strong and confident doesn't have to involve dinner-salads, protein powders, appetite suppressants, skinny-me teas, juice cleanses, water fasts or carb-cutting.
In fact - it should look quite the opposite.
For all you low-carber's out there suffering in whole-30-flavored silence, let me offer you an escape route here. Not that you need one, because battling our innate biological drive to gorge on carbohydrates is a total breeze and everything. For sure for sure. But just in case.
All large populations of trim, healthy, athletic people throughout verifiable human history obtained the bulk of their calories from starch. Asian civilizations on rice, buckwheat and sweet potatoes, the Inca's on potatoes, the Mayans and Aztecs on corn, and the Egyptians on wheat, just to name a few. These are the foods we crave, the foods our bodies were designed to eat, and the foods that unbiased research has concluded to be the most health-promoting.
They also happen to be really cussing scrumptious.
So lets dive into it then. What does it look like to walk the talk when it comes to eating all this whole-foods plant-based business?
Breakfast: Oat Flour Banana Walnut Pancakes. Smothered in peanut butter, hemp hearts & a drizzle of maple syrup.
The crowd goes wild. (By "the crowd" I mean me, and by "goes wild" I mean goes back for thirds and blames it on breastfeeding. Just to clarify.)
These are my family's Sunday morning go-to. But lately, I've been loving making a huge batch to save for weekday mornings as well. Grab some from the fridge, microwave for 30 seconds, smother in nut-butter and round off with some fresh fruit, protein-packed hemp hearts and a drizzle of grade-A maple, and BOOM. 2 minutes to paradise. Mom-life approved.
Here's the recipe for 12 medium-sized pancakes:
Pop 2 ripe (spotty) bananas, 3 cups rolled oats, 2 cups almond milk, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract into a blender and blend until a smooth batter forms. Then gently stir in 1/4 cup of walnuts and 1/4 cup of whole, rolled oats into the batter.
That last step there is where the magic happens, folks.
Research shows whole grains (a "whole" or "rolled" oat, in comparison to ground-up oats in the form of oat flour) take longer for our bodies to breakdown and therefore help reduce spikes in blood sugar as the meal is absorbed. This equates to less fat storage, staying full for longer, and the avoidance of that 2-hour post-meal energy crash.
The walnuts provide a slew of benefits here as well. Truly an all-star cast, these flapjacks.
Pour the batter over a non-stick or oil-seasoned skillet (preferably avocado oil as it has a high smoke point) over medium heat. You can take it from there, sport. Flip it & reverse it. Channel that inner Missy.
After a few hours of emails, consults, charting, writing, and following orders form the Warden (my 7 month old) - I'm ready for some more fuel to get me through the afternoon.
Enter, lunch: Homemade Sweet Potato Black Bean & Lentil Veggie Burgers.
Pre-made of course (likely for dinner the night before), and re-heated on the spot. Because who has time to go all Bobby Flay mid work-day grind?
Not the Warden & I. That's for certain.
Here's the how-to for 12 large-and-in-charge patties.
2 cups cooked brown rice 1- 15 oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed 1- 15 oz. can lentils, drained & rinsed 5-6 cups roasted & diced sweet potatoes 1/2 red onion, diced 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped 1.5 tsp salt 1.5 tsp cumin 1.5 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp smoked paprika 1 tsp paprika Olive or avocado oil, for cooking
Pre-cook the brown rice. Dice & roast sweet potatoes with 1 tsp olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper in oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Once the potatoes are done (fragrant & fork-tender), add diced sweet potatoes and all other ingredients and remaining spices into a food processor and process for 3-5 minutes until well-mixed but not uniform in texture.
We want stickiness, not a full-blown puree here. Some things should be left sacred for our 90's, darn it.
Form into 12 large patties and pan-fry in a skillet with a tablespoon or so of oil over medium heat until the surface of the patties is lightly crispy and caramelized. Serve with all the fixin's. I like mine on a seedy whole-grain bun, piled high with creamy avocado slices, melty vegan cheese, sliced tomato, red onion, green leafy lettuce, ketchup & barbecue sauce.
I would typically eat this with roasted veggies and a homemade dipping sauce (tahini ranch is my fave!) or baked beans and a side salad.
And then comes dessert.
Can we all stop fighting lunch-dessert and just agree this is a normal and necessary thing? You can tell yourself its just a handful of yogurt-covered pretzels, a few dried apricots, a square of dark chocolate or those honey-roasted peanuts in the break-room - but what is it really? Its lunch-dessert, folks. And I'm here for it.
So much so, that I like to get real intentional about it.
If I'm gunna treat myself to something with a touch of sweetness, best believe I'm getting the biggest bang for my buck along the ride. Something I'll appreciate, savor, and feel good about having.
Something like...brownies. Homemade black bean brownies, that is. Meal-prepped and ready to enjoy all week long.
Off the record, I had two after breakfast one morning this week. THEY'RE FIBROUS & DELECTABLE. LET ME LIVE.
I adapted my favorite BBB recipe from Chocolate-Covered Katie's, linked here.
I omitted the stevia/extra sugar, replaced the coconut oil with two flax-eggs (2 tablespoons flax meal mixed with 6 tablespoons water - left to sit for 5 minutes or so until thick), and added walnuts in addition to the dark chocolate chunks. But you go on and taste-test that batter, fool. Adjust as your tiny little ticker desires. Remember, no raw batter hazards with vegan baking. Marketing angle 2020, ya'll can thank me later @PETA.
Remove from oven and ooh baby. Indulge responsibly. I, on the other hand, will be going full Augustus Gloop on these bad things. Buck wild. Every. Time.
For dinners, my husband and I like to find the perfect mix between gourmet and delicious but also able to be prepared while playing 'hot potato' with a tiny homosapien. This equates to minimal prep-work required.
One of our weekly go-to's? Lentil Tacos + Corn & Black Bean Salad.
Lentils are not only fiber-rich, protein-packed, and incredible for microbiome diversity and blood sugar management, but they're also sustainable to produce, budget friendly, and can be seasoned to oblivion for any style of cuisine.
Our favorite taco filling recipe is as follows:
Start by sauteing 1 chopped red onion with 5 gloves of minced garlic over medium heat in a little avocado oil for 5 or so minutes. Add in 1 chopped red bell pepper and 1 cup chopped mushrooms, sauteing for another 3-ish minutes. Once the veggies are soft and fragrant, add in 1 can tomato sauce, 1 pound cooked/steamed lentils (I like to use a pack of Trader Joe's Steamed Lentils! Steam these first in the microwave as directed, and then transfer them into the sauce pan, breaking them apart as necessary until there are no big chunks of lentils left.) and some store-bought taco seasoning of choice.
Use your own judgement here! Some like it spicy and salty, others favor a more mild Southwestern flare. You do you, boo!
Once the mixture is heated to perfection (no meat = no minimum cooking temps needed), spoon onto some warm corn tortilla shells and top with your favorite homemade guac recipe. You know the one.
Serve with a side Southwestern-style salad. Ours always has romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, sweet corn, black beans, cherry tomatoes and some kind of cilantro-lime-avocado dressing.
And last but not least, that evening sweet treat.
Its Bachelor season ya'll, and my eating pants are ready to perform about it. Just me, my bitter husband, Pilot Pete, 30 fame-hungry broads competing for his boring sloppy seconds, and 6 one-way tickets to my pantry per episode. Bare mini.
Throughout my pregnancy, I got in the habit of eating a few medjool dates in the evenings, as they're pure magic for preparing the female body for childbirth (learn more here).
Even now 7 months post-birth, with an expensive fructose addiction and hot pile of denial that I'm no longer knocked-up, they're my favorite excuse to make moves toward the fridge mid commercial break.
I'll typically have a couple medjool dates stuffed with walnuts or almond butter, some fresh fruit, a few more black bean brownies, or any combination of these things as a little evening pick-me-up. In fact, I've been known (trolled) for heating up a leftover pancake or two in the evenings as well - because lets get real fam, sometimes delicious food just fills the cracks.
And when its whole-foods plant-based disease-fighting fuel playing therapist when it may otherwise not be? Well that's a W in my book.
And flapjack-flavored victory lap I shall.
Until next time, my loves.
This post was written & medically reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Grace Pascale, MS, RDN. Grace Pascale Nutrition.