Sometimes, presentation really is everything when you are trying to eat healthy

I really didn’t understand how important presentation could be until I went vegan and tried to be committed to eating healthy.  I didn’t understand why it seemed so hard at first.  I mean, yes, I was trying to go from a junk food filled vegetarian diet to a health food vegan diet pretty quickly.  That was a huge change, but I didn’t think that an educated adult would really struggle to make healthy choices as much as I did, especially in the beginning.

Anyone who has ever tried to make big life changes knows it’s difficult to stick to those changes.  It also rarely happens on the first try.  I didn’t understand how much the appearance of food influences us on concious and subconscious levels.  Watching documentaries about food made me aware of how food companies spend so much time and effort on brand colors, package colors, food photo shoots with inedible food doubles because they photograph better.

The point was driven further home when I would ask my omnivorous boyfriend to try something I made.  The first few dishes I tried were very simple, but I didn’t worry about how the food looked.  So he wouldn’t want to try the vegan dishes because he admits that he hates 90% of vegetables.  I started putting them on pretty plates and making sure that the food always looked really beautiful.  He tried every dish without hesitation.  He didn’t like all of them, but he didn’t resist trying any of them.

When I find myself eating junk food or just not always eating as healthy as I should I remember this and do everything I can to make my meals and snacks as pretty as possible.  It makes it so much easier to stick to eating clean and healthy if you are making it as enjoyable as possible on every level.

Here are a few things that helped me-

Buy cute plates and use sauce holders to hold dipping sauces or just to separate snacks to make grazing easier.

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imageOr- get creative and use natural snack holders like sliced bell peppers

imageThey make great and colorful edible snack holders!

imageThis would be a really adorable appetizer or snack!  

(Tip– if you make this, save the top.  Then, cut off the stem and place it back into the hollowed out pepper upside down.  If you place the slices of the other colors of pepper on that they will sprout out like in this picture instead of being the same height as the holder pepper.)

Don’t forget to use lots of colors!  I love putting all different colors of vegetables in my rice dishes.  It makes it pretty as well as nutritious!

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Interesting shapes can also make food look beautiful and make your meal or snack feel special. 

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Cookie cutters can make really cool shapes out of pretty much any fruit or vegetable.  A knife also works really well but is a bit more difficult.

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Don’t be afraid to get creative and to make your healthy vegan food something that you feel lucky to get to eat!

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Chickpea and Vegetable Chowder

imageI love soup, and this chowder not only has lots of great veggies in it, but because it is made with chickpeas instead of potatoes, it packs an extra protein punch!  It’s naturally gluten free, and is so creamy and filling!  Since fall is right around the corner, this really helps me get into the season.  A warm, thick, chunky and creamy chowder is perfect for a fall afternoon or a fall dinner.

What you will need-

image1 can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)

1 can corn

1 can coconut milk (13.5 fluid oz)

1/2 cup carrots (diced)

1/2 cup red onion (diced)

3/4 cup red bell pepper (about an entire medium to large one)

1 small zucchini (about a cup worth)

1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary

1 teaspoon dried basil

extra virgin olive oil

First, clean all the vegtables.  Take the carrots and slice into small slices, around 1/4 inch thick.  The measuring cup is there to show scale for approximate thickness of the sliced baby carrots.

imageNext, dice the red onion and the bell pepper.   Set the bell pepper, onion and carrots aside.

imageTake the zucchini, and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices.  Cut slices into fourths.  Set aside apart from the oinion, carrot and pepper mix.

Take out your blender.  Drain the can of chickpeas (I save the liquid and use it later as an egg replacer).  Add the drained can of chickpeas to the blender.  Open the can of corn and drain.  Set aside 3/4 cup of the corn.  Add the remaining corn to the blender.  Shake the can of coconut milk well, open and add to the blender as well.

Secure the lid of the blender, and blend for 20-30 seconds, or until completely blended.  Set aside for now.

Heat up a skillet to medium high heat.  Once the skillet is heated, drizzle olive oil into the pan and add the carrots, onion and pepper.

imageSauté for about three minutes.  Then add the zucchini.

Stir and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes.

Next, put the chickpea mixture from the blender into a large soup pot.   Add the set aside corn and the sautéed vegetables.

imagePut heat up to medium to medium high heat.  Add 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary and 1 teaspoon dried basil.  Stir well.

Cook for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally.  Check the carrots and zucchini to make sure it is done. (Yup, taste them!)

I used a grape tomato and spinach leaves to garnish, but this is completely optional.

imageEnjoy!

 

Vegan healthy fried cauliflower rice with beans and veggies

imageThis is by far my favorite meal I have ever come up with.

ingredients-

2 cups cauliflower

1/2 cup red bell pepper

1/3 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup peas (I used canned)

1/2 cup dark red kidney beans (again, I used canned)

pam cooking spray or olive oil

garlic

salt and pepper

The first thing you need to do is prep the veggies.  Dice the carrots, as well as the the red bell peppers and set aside.  Next, take a head of cabbage, and cut the tops of the florets off into one to two inch cubes.  Cook the cabbage and diced carrots until the cabbage is soft, but not mushy.  Drain.  Take the carrots, and set aside.  Take the cooked cabbage and cut with a knife until the size resembles rice.

next, heat up a skillet to medium high heat, and either use spray Pam or drizzle some olive oil onto the heated pan.  Place the diced red peppers into the pan, and let cook for about two minutes.  Next add the cauliflower “rice” and then the carrots, beans and peas.

Continue to keep stirring the ingridients around.  Add minced garlic (I added about two tsp but you can always use more or less to taste).

i kept it on the pan for about five minutes, but mostly because it smelled so great that I couldn’t wait any longer to eat it!

enjoy!  This meal was huge, but the entire dish contains about 280 calories.