Sometimes my tummy + digestive system can act like a couple of jerks, but then when I think about why things are acting up it all circles back to me reviewing how I’m fuelling and what I’m fuelling with. This past summer I was working with a Nutritionist and since I haven’t been having any digestive issues in the past year or so I decided to see how I would continue to fair if I ate dairy, wheat and gluten in moderation. When I went to Seattle I treated myself, but felt like I was doing a good job because nothing I ate was over processed as anything I indulged in I made sure it was made from scratch and local. In Vancouver I did a pretty decent job with clean eating but part of that was my pre-race mentality and the responsibility thatI had to be in my best state to support others at their goal race.
In university I dealt with some health problems that resulted in almost three years of basic clean eating, essentially my body couldn’t handle breakdown anything that was process, contained additives, preservatives, GMOs or anything that seemed foreign to it. What that meant for me was a list of restricted foods in the hope that I would minimize the side affects and allergic reactions that I was having on a weekly basis – no dairy, gluten, wheat, egg, soy, peanut butter, etc. Over the years I have carefully reintroduced these food groups back into my diet in moderation, learning that I can tolerate some better than others even to this day.
Since settling back into work and a routine I’ve continued to meal prep and eat healthy with the exception of giving myself a bit of a break on Saturdays to have a few snacks from the Bulk Barn or enjoy a off plan meal of my choosing. But in recent weeks I have been dealing with increased digestion issues that aren’t getting better and if anything are getting worse. I read the Zero Belly Diet and a few other books while also spending a lot of time on the Vega website scrolling through endless recipes as I try to plan the ultimate overhaul of my food plan. It’s not always easy but I know that it is always worth it because I feel 10x better and I don’t have to worry about the side affects that come along with my digestive system being in an unhappy state.
After attending the Vega – Wake Up Shake Up #VegaShakeUp event last week I have to say that I was reminded of what a fantastic food source Vega provides to active folks like me who worry about what they put in their body AND they are brand who has spent hours curating website of fantastic, flavourful, easy and healthy recipes to help me in my journey as I return to plant based nutrition. Last weekend I spent a few hours reading articles and recipes on the Vega site as I looked to compile my Meal Prep list for the upcoming week and keep it 90% clean plant based for the most part. I saved a bunch of recipes in my bookmark bar and kept 5 open in particular that I was hoping to put on my meal plan menu for the week as key meals or snacks.
Breakfast: Vega Essential Smoothies
Eliminating dairy from my breakfast was one of the key goals of my nutrition plan clean up. While dairy can be a great source of protein and nutrients, plus it’s easy first thing in the morning, I am aware that dairy is something overtime that I can build up a sensitivity to again and I assume that it could be a main reason why I haven’t been feeling the best. Breakfast is also a hard meal for me as I am usually training in the morning or on the move first thing at work so I like it to not require a lot of prep, not need much assembly at the office and be portable if needed. Armed with a fresh tub of Vega Essentials Protein Powder I was inspired to give smoothies a go for breakfast in an effort to keep myself satisfied all morning, refuel after my workouts and keep my prep minimal. The best part about all of the Vega smoothie recipes is that they are dairy free and typically under five ingredients.
This smoothie ended up becoming a Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie this week as I accidentally left the frozen sweet dark cherries I purchased in my parents freezer, thankfully I had an alternative on hand at my condo to make it work. This smoothie had a base of unsweetened nut milk, with the addition of frozen strawberries, cocoa powder, almond butter, ice and one scoop of Vega Essentials Chocolate protein power. This smoothie was the perfect morning smoothie to satisfy any sweet tooth craving and it was also a great snack ahead of my dance class on Tuesday night to curb my appetite until I could eat dinner later on.
I LOVE blueberries and I think combined with the right ingredients they are the perfect fruit to use in a smoothie without overpowering other flavours and being too sweet. This smoothie was a top-notch pick-me-up for the morning and left me with enough smoothie to sip on all morning long keeping me full and feeling good until lunch time. With a base of unsweetened nut milk and non-dairy yogurt (in my case I used So Delicious® Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative in Vanilla since I couldn’t find blueberry), it was topped off with frozen blueberries, lemon juice and 1 scoop of Vega Essentials Vanilla.
Dinner: Cauliflower Fried Rice
I’ll be the first to admit I was a bit skeptical of turning cauliflower into ‘rice’, for some unless cooked properly cauliflower can have a bit of a strong taste/after taste and others have unfortunate childhood memories of being required to eat the steam bland vegetable before they were allowed to excuse themselves from the table. But fear not! I have taken one for the team and tried this recipe out, actually my whole team at work tried the fried rice one day because they were all so intrigued about the taste and texture once I explained to them what I had prepped as one of my meal this week.
The Vega Cauliflower Fried Rice recipe was quite easy to make, it requires a food processor so I had to dig that out of the box since I so rarely use mine. What can I say I’m a simple gal, I like to cook from scratch with minimal machinery required in the kitchen. I thought half a head of cauliflower wouldn’t be enough for 4 servings but nope, that much actually blitzes down to quite a bit of rice. Once the rice is prepped you set it aside and in a wok or frying pan brown the onions in olive oil with garlic, the I added in the other ingredients of veggies + cashews and my protein (I opted for chicken breast, the recipe calls for tofu), added in the sauce and BOOM we were done. I know now that I have have over pulsed the cauliflower, I say that because my bits were about the size of half grains of rice vs full ones – lesson for next time. The final result was quite tasty, actually it was basically exactly like fried rice it just had a slightly different consistency but nothing I couldn’t live with. The batch kept very well in the fridge for almost a week, if anything it tasted better over time. This is certainly something worth trying, it’s not only a great way to sneak more nutrients into a meal if yours short on your veggies, but it helps one cut down on carbs and grains in our diet as well.
Snacks: Something Sweet but Healthy
Sometimes we just need a sweet treat, after discovering the mug cake recipes on the Vega website – which by the way I was quite excited to see – I decided to make sure I had the ingredients for this one to have on hand in case I needed something after work-before workout or in the evening a ‘treat’ without being something sugary and bad. Sunday night after I meal prepped I decided I was going to relax for a few hours, unwind as I got ready for the week and treat myself a bit. That evening included whipping up with mug cake to keep my company on the couch and I have to say it was really fantastic! Not only was it easy to throw together, it only required three dishes (mug, fork for banana mashing/mixing, spoon) and satisfied my sweet tooth without being something processed/loaded with sugar/bad for my tummy.
These never became balls…it actually turned out as granola and I know exactly why, I didn’t have maple syrup so I subbed in agave syrup and lesson learned it doesn’t have the same magical binding abilities as maple syrup so you know what I rolled with it. I also swapped out the espresso beans for dark chocolate covered almonds, personally I like my coffee in liquid form, not solid. The result was a delicious, protein packed and chocolatey treat that I topped some afternoon yogurt with on a few occasions last week, as I transitioned yogurt out of my daily diet I still had part of a tub from breakfast the previous week at work that I needed to polish off vs. throwing it out.
If you liked this post stay-tuned, I’m hoping to continue to share more recipes + where I find my awesome recipes in the coming weeks as I navigate this journey to make my tummy and digestive system a little happier. Also, I’m working on a Super Swap post of some items that I’ve recently been trading in place of common everyday ingredients and I think you’ll find some of my substitutions interesting and quite tasty!