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Posted on Jan 14, 2014 in Food | 9 comments

Creamy Garlic Avocado Sauce

There is literally no food on this green Earth that I find more naturally beautiful than an avocado. When you cut into a perfectly ripe avocado, and twist the two halves apart to reveal that ombre green center… it’s just a damn beautiful fruit, okay? And luckily, it’s also one of the most amazing sources of healthy fat, um, ever. I’ve long been a vocal opponent of the idea that fat makes you fat — it doesn’t! Fat is satiating and a necessary component of healthy meals. In fact, the personal trainer that I trained with told me that a good ratio of nutrients for weight loss is 40/30/30 — that’s 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat! The same amount of fat as protein. BOOM.

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So when I came down to brainstorming for my final Almond Breeze recipe — what will hopefully be the piece de resistance — it was really quite fortuitous that I also happened to have a bulk bag of avocados from Costco ripening away (BEST VALUE EVER. It was like $5.99 for 7 avocados or some nonsense). Because it gave me a chance to revamp a recipe that I believe I originally posted back in the earliest blossoming days of this blog… but I can’t be sure, because it was so long ago that I can’t actually find the post I’m thinking about. (Whoops.)

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Aaaanywho, yes, this is the better, delicious-er, avocado-ier version of my original recipe. I actually intended to serve it over a bed of roasted spaghetti squash, but I got too impatient waiting for the squash to finish cooking, so I ended up eating it with some leftover pasta that I had in the fridge. Yep, the sauce gets done THAT fast and it’s THAT good. And would you believe that it’s UNDER 100 CALORIES per serving?! Believe me, you are not going to want to miss out on this one.

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Creamy Garlic Avocado Sauce
Makes 6 servings of sauce

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados
1 clove raw garlic
1 loose cup spinach
1/4 cup unsweetened Almond Breeze almond milk
Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine avocados, garlic, and spinach.
2. Pulse until finely chopped.
3. Add almond milk in batches and blend until desired consistency is reached. For a runnier texture, you may need slightly more almond milk.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and voila! Toss with pasta, top chicken or fish, or serve as a dip with crackers!

Nutritional information: 99.4 calories, 9 g fat (but it’s good fat!), 5.4 g carbs, 1.3 g protein.

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I’m not going to bother calling it a pasta sauce, because I think that it honestly has tons of possibilities. Toss with noodles, use as sauce for a rice bowl, or top chicken or fish with this creamy green deliciousness. Keep the texture a little thicker and serve it as a dip! (I’d probably add a little lemon or lime juice to maintain it’s freshness if I did that, but I didn’t have any on hand this time around and it really is delicious as is.)

My tip for preserving leftovers is the same as for making guacamole: cover the sauce with a layer of plastic wrap — as in, have the plastic wrap actually TOUCH the food in its container, and then put on the lid. Keeping the air off of the sauce will help keep the top from browning (since, even though it’s still totally fine to eat, browned food never looks appetizing). And bon appetite!

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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Posted on Oct 30, 2013 in Recipes | 11 comments

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Oh, Autumn. How I love thee so. With you comes crisp weather, apple-based desserts, and, perhaps my favorite thing of all, pumpkin EVERYTHING.

Seriously, you can’t walk three steps through the mall come Fall without bumping into something pumpkin-related. Pumpkin scones, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin scented candles, pumpkin perfume (don’t laugh, I’ve seen it!). Of course, it’s not really like I’m complaining. I looooove pumpkin! Especially when it comes in the pie variety (something I’m very much looking forward to, come Thanksgiving).

Unfortunately, my impatient nature doesn’t really bode well for the whole “wait until Turkey Day” thing when it comes to pumpkin pie. But, then again, it’s not like I can just eat a slice of pumpkin pie every day. Or, well, I mean, I could, but I really shouldn’t. Enter: the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. There are TONS of pumpkin pie smoothie recipes out there! I’m sure that September and October bring nothing BUT pumpkin smoothie recipes to the healthy living blogosphere. But. Let me tell you something. All those other smoothies? They usually have a whoooooole lotta stuff in them. Stuff like frozen bananas and almond butter and QUINOA FLOUR. Things that, my friends, you simply would never find in a pumpkin pie.

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My solution? A true, simple, minimal-ingredient recipe that will give your tastebuds a treat without A) packing on the pie-induced pounds, and B) actually tastes like pumpkin pie. And hey, bonus! It’s vegan! #winning

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
(Makes 1 very large serving or 2 smaller ones — it’s quite filling so I definitely recommend sharing with a friend!)

Ingredients:

1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix — I use Libby’s)
1 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 cup ice cubes
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp sugar or sweetener of choice

Instructions:

As with all smoothies, the instructions are:

1. Put ingredients into a blender.
2. Blend.
3. Enjoy!

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almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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Posted on Dec 7, 2011 in Food, Recipes | 21 comments

Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Creme Pie

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They say that some things are too good to be true.

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And generally, I’d say that is usually the case.

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But not this time.

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No, the only thing that will have you roaring in disbelief here is how incredibly easy this recipe is.

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This smooth, rich-tasting a chocolate pie requires absolutely no oven time and is sure to impress! They’ll never even know that you were hiding something all along…

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‘Cause that’s right, not only is this an absolutely delicious dessert, but it’s got a secret, healthifying ingredient that bumps up the nutrition without sacrificing taste. Remember that coupon-fueled grocery shopping trip I did a couple of weeks ago? Well, I came home with three packages of Nasoya tofu courtesy of the company, and I finally got the chance to use one of them up! Some of you may be no stranger to using silken tofu in desserts, but this was a first for me. As you can see, I’m incredibly pleased with the result!

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I promise you cannot taste the tofu at all (and my roommate verified!) and instead, you’ll be amazed at the incredible texture it provides. Outside of my mom’s amazing Chinese cooking, I don’t see silken tofu used in dishes very often. It doesn’t taste like much of anything on its own, but soaks up flavors like a sponge and has a consistency that I would liken to flan.

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And the best part? By using lite silken tofu you’re keeping calories fairly reasonable for a piece of chocolate pie. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s still chocolate, and it’s still pie, and since I don’t have magical powers, it still has some weight to it. But for a holiday dinner or special occasion? Heck yes!

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Pull this puppy out at your next dinner party and surprise your guests with the secret ingredient after they’ve downed their first slice. In fact, I would bet money that they’ll be clamoring for seconds anyway!

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Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Creme Pie
Print this recipe!

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Moo-less Chocolate Pie
Serves 8

Easy? Check. Delicious? Check. Healthier than your average bear pie? Check! This creamy dreamy chocolate pie will have your dinner guests in disbelief when you admit to the secret ingredient. Looking to save even more calories? Skip the crust and serve it custard-style in individual ramekins!

Ingredients:

1 12 oz. bag of vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
1 package lite silken tofu
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
1 graham cracker pie crust, store-bought or home-made

Instructions:

1. Combine chocolate chips, vanilla extract, and water in a heat-safe bowl. Melt together using a double-boiler (resting the bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove) or in small batches in the microwave (10 seconds at a time), stirring frequently.

2. When chocolate is melted and smooth, remove from heat and add tofu and sugar, if using. Blend until smooth in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Pour into pie crust and refrigerate.

3. Refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours (the longer it sits, the firmer it will get), and serve solo or with homemade cinnamon whipped cream!

Nutritional info per slice: 382 calories, 20 g fat, 47 g carbs (3 g fiber), 8 g protein.

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Done.

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And done.

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Posted on Apr 25, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food, Pup Posts, Weigh Ins, Weight Loss | 6 comments

Lenten Lessons Learned (Weigh-In)

Well y’all, it’s official. Lent is over, and I’m off the vegan wagon (though not totally back to my fully omnivorous ways, as you already know if you read my last post!) After 40 days (and 40 nights) of being meat-free, egg-free, and almost totally dairy-free (oops…), here are 5 things I’ve learned:

1. Vegan food is good.

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Yup, you heard that right. It is. So many people automatically turn their noses up at the mere mention of the word vegan, but I bet you’d be surprised how many of your favorite foods are already vegan. Guacamole, anyone? Spaghetti marinara? Feel like a rice and bean burrito? Knock yourself out!

2. Being vegan at home is easy.

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It’s really not too hard when you’re cooking for yourself to stick to a vegan diet. There are a lot of easy staples to keep around and it’s fun to experiment with new proteins and trying to “veganize” versions of dishes you already know and love. I enjoy a challenge in the kitchen!

3. Being vegan in public is hard.

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I’m fortunate to live in an area where there are actually a lot of really great vegetarian and vegan restaurants (like Sunflower!), or at least places that will be accommodating if you have those kinds of dietary restrictions. However, I now know what it’s like to try to eat vegan-ly (not a word?) at pretty much any chain restaurant, and it is very difficult. Research your options ahead of time, and expect to feel a little tool-ish dictating your needs to your server. Be aware that these restaurants will put butter and chicken stock in EVERYTHING, even the things that seem passable at first glance. If you have a voice in choosing the restaurant and a vegetarian place isn’t an option, I suggest you go for Indian or Asian cuisine. Because they use very little dairy in their dishes anyway, just get a dish without meat and it’s likely to automatically be vegan.

4. Vegan does NOT necessarily equal healthy.

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There is a plethora of unhealthy food out there that just happens to be vegan. Guess what – chips? Vegan. Fries? Vegan (well, most of the time.) Becoming vegan does not automatically mean you’ll be a lean, green, healthy-eating machine. And in that same vein…

5. Becoming vegan is not a guaranteed way to lose weight.

A lot of people think that going on a vegan diet means you’ll automatically drop libbies left and right. Well, news flash: I have barely lost any weight over the past 6 weeks. I’ve maybe lost 2 pounds total over this entire period (you know, a loss there, a gain here, a plateau tossed in the middle.) I think that I’ve isolated the reason for this though (hooray for progress!) I don’t do well under any kind of forced deprivation (even when I force it on myself!) Not allowing me the possibility of having any meat, or cheese, or order what I wanted off a menu… well, I tried to compensate by filling up on more of the stuff I was allowed to eat. But I realize now that overeating is overeating, whether it’s with “healthy” foods or not! Lesson learned, Lent. See? That alone makes the experience totally worth it.

Okay, quick weekend recap: the pupperoos and I traversed to Milton, Delaware (near Rehoboth Beach) to spend Easter weekend with Steve and his family! Despite the fact that it didn’t start out great (it took me almost FIVE hours to drive the two and a half hours it SHOULD have taken!) it ended up being a really wonderful weekend. The rain Friday turned into hot and sunny weather Saturday and Sunday, and I really enjoyed the Easter festivities — aside from another lesson I was forced to learn, which is that Daxter gets carsick. Womp womp.

Lent ended for me exactly after midnight with…

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A Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge! Oh, cheese, how I’ve missed you!! So good. 😀

And life included a lot of other animal products as Easter Sunday continued, haha. I suffered for it later of course, as was to be expected, as I had to deal with some hardcore acid reflux last night before bed. Bleh. I shall keep the verbiage to a minimum and provide the following photo tour of my Easter weekend for you lucky peeps (ha! Get it? Peeps? Easter? Anyone?) 🙂

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Big thanks to Steve for taking the pictures since I was super lazy with the camera this weekend (what else is new, eh?) As you can see, it involved a lot of the dogs, sunshine, and bacon. Heehee. That last photo is of my iced up foot, which was rather unpleasantly stung while we were out walking the dogs. We think it was a wasp sting — it REALLY hurt. 🙁 I guess another one of those life experiences, I guess?

All right, last things last (haha? Oh, I’m so lame.) Drumroll, please…

Starting Weight: 246 lbs.
Last Week’s Weight: 197.4 lbs
This Week’s Weight: 196.0 lbs
This Week’s Loss: -1.2 lbs
Total Loss-to-Date: 50 lbs.

Huzzah! I’m almost back to my pre-birthday-weight, hahaha. I wasn’t expecting to lose anything, honestly, given that I’m sure my body needs to adjust to eating animal products once again but maybe the timeframe between meat-eating and weigh-in was too short for it to really be affected. Whatever, a loss is a loss and even though I’m not making the astounding progress I wish I was, I’ll take it!

Hot yoga‘s on the docket for this afternoon (and I’m actually excited for it! Who am I?!) now that my yoga muscles are fully back in working order, hehe. And this week I actually get to go into work a whole HOUR later than normal (and remember, normal is 7 AM) since my boss is on vacation! Hello sleep, I’ve missed you.

Did you learn any lessons from what you gave up for Lent? Or how about from any kind of dietary experimentation you’ve done in the past? Share with the group! 😉

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Posted on Apr 12, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 11 comments

Let Them Eat (Birthday) Cake!

Good morning, everyone! Thank you all so much for your kind birthday wishes yesterday!! I had an awesome day, and you are all welcome for the incredible weather that clearly only happened because it was my birthday. 😉

After work yesterday I got my birthday massage at the Canary Orchid Retreat in Falls Church, courtesy of my sister’s generosity, and then I treated myself to a birthday pedicure at Aislinn Nail & Spa right next door! I got their White Tea pedicure special, which included a free paraffin foot treatment. Ahhhh, so luxurious. I felt grrrrreat!

Doubleplusbonus, when I told my pedicurist that it was my birthday, she offered to do free nail art on my big toes! People with grossing-out issues, look away for a mo’:

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So fun! I wanted to get a bright, spring-and-summery color to celebrate the incredible warm weather… which I hear is supposed to go away today. Oh well, it was still like 67 degrees when I left the house so I’m not complaining yet!

As for the rest of my amazing birthday, after my spa sesh I jaunted over to good ol’ Mom & Dad’s with the pups for birthday dinner #2! The roamed around in the backyard for a little bit while my mom finished up some gardening. Happy, happy dogs!

Hot diggity dog.

Harry Beary
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For dinner my mom ordered a bunch of amazingness from Sunflower, the all-vegetarian restaurant I’ve raved about before.

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It was a feast! We had lettuce wraps, general tso’s “chicken”, and some kinda bamboo shoot/asparagus/mushroom-something dish that looked really weird but tasted really awesome. 😀

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In addition, my mom made special Chinese Longevity Noodles. According to her, they are essential for birthday consumption in order to live a long and prosperous life. According to me, they are simply delicious.

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And as if all of that wasn’t enough, my mommy (heh) also baked me a vegan birthday cake! I was so impressed. She didn’t even use an egg replacer or flax egg or anything – just olive oil and apple cider vinegar, and it was still fluffy and light! It even got the brother‘s seal of approval because it was just that good. And now prepare yourselves for a multitude of birthday cake shots taken by Ben, hehe:

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It was so good. So good, in fact, that I may or may not have but definitely did eat a piece for breakfast. Don’t worry, I enjoyed an apple along with it. 😉 Thanks, Mom!! And thanks to Ben and Taylor for the newest addition to my cookbook library. They got me an Asian-style cookbook that covers Thai, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine! The latter will probably get experimented with least, since my mom is pretty much the best Chinese cook on the planet (awwww), but I’m totally diggin’ the rest, especially because eating out every time I have a craving for one or the other racks up the dollahdollahbillsy’all.

My last surprise of the birthday day (redundant?) was my homemade present from my roommate, Erin! You just have to check out this awesomeness:

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Yes. It’s a CROCHETED DAXTER!!!!!!!!

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I die of cuteness. Erin sells her crocheted creations in her Etsy shop, so if you guys want a mini-schnauzer to cuddle up with of your own (or probably any other adorable animal, frankly) I’m sure she’d be willing to work it out with you. 🙂 Thanks, roomie!

Thanks to everyone for making yesterday such a special, awesome day. Do you now see why I love my birthday so much!? 😀 I’m still in such a good mood, in fact, that I’ve decided to share the love and will be hosting my VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY soon!! Huzzah! So stay tuned for that, and all you non-commenting lurkers out there, start polishing your typing fingers. 😉

<3

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