WLC: What's for dinner? Creole Stuffed Peppers.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Last week I'd tagged a few Whole Life Challenge-compliant recipes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Veganomicon, and made sure to get all the ingredients.  The one I made tonight was REALLY good!!

Creole Stuffed Peppers
From Veganomicon 
Serves 8 as a side dish, or 4 as a main

4 large bell peppers
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, cut in half, seeded, and diced
1 cup carrots, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp paprika
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1 (15-oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (15-oz) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9x13" casserole dish with olive oil.  Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise through the stem end.  Remove the seeds & membranes.  Submerge the peppers in boiling water and cover.  Let them boil for 5 minutes, then drain them immediately and rinse with cold water to cool them.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute the onions, jalapenos, and carrots for about 10 minutes.  You want the veggies to brown, especially the carrots.  If it looks like they are steaming rather than browning, raise the heat.  Add the garlic about 5 minutes into the cooking process.

Add the bay leaves, other herbs and spices and salt; saute for 1 more minute.  Add the tomatoes and peas, stir and cover, and cook for 10 minutes.  If it seems too liquidy, remove the cover and cook long enough to reduce some of the liquid.  Mix in the parsley.

Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.  Spoon a little less than 1/2 cup of the veggie mixture into each pepper half.  The filling will be hot, so be careful while you are handling it.  Place the pepper halves in the casserole dish and bake for about 25 minutes.

WLC lunches: Sweet Potato-Cauliflower Soup

I always try to make a big batch of soup on Sunday to have for lunches the following week.  I made this soup on the last round of the WLC and it was tasty.  With a head of cauliflower in the fridge needing to be used, I decided today was the day to break out this Sweet Potato-Cauliflower soup again.  My pics didn't come out nearly as gorgeous as the ones on her blog, so I'll just show the "before" :)

All told, I wound up with 7 servings, so that should get John and I through about Thursday (there's a bit of leftover lentil soup that I made last week).  I made the lentil one up as I went along, but here's what I threw in:  Green lentils (rinsed and cooked for several hours, in a mix of this broth and water), diced tomatoes, basil leaves, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper.  Probably some roasted cumin and coriander, too.  Good stuff!

Go-to items for the Whole Life Challenge

Whenever we start the Whole Life Challenge, I always try to make sure we have the WLC staple items on hand, as well as a selection of "compliant" fast foods to grab in case we didn't plan ahead.  I thought it might be helpful to list out some of these items so that others can just grab and go as needed!

Basic items to have on hand at all times for snacks:

For the store-bought staples, here's a list.  Hope everyone finds this helpful!  Let me know what your go-to items are.

First, coconut milk.  Aroy-D is my favorite, but not widely available.  There are several varieties that are compliant, but those can be hard to find in my small town.  For anyone who lives nearby (Blacksburg, VA), I found all of the following items at either Oasis or Eats.

Next, grab-and-go soups.  These are super helpful for times when you realize you're dead tired and there's no way you'll be preparing a full meal.  You have to read your ingredients carefully, but upon close inspection these seem to meet all the criteria:

Amy's Split Pea (no pic).

Amy's Curried Lentil:

Jyoti Aromatic Lentils and Beans:

  Amy's Low-Fat, Medium Black Bean Chili:

And finally, for building soups and seasoning other foods, Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Aminos

and Pacific Natural Foods Organic Vegetable Broth:


All of these have become ongoing kitchen staples, and have really helped John and I keep our diet in line both on and off the challenge!

Whole Life Challenge Spring 2013!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

John and I are doing the Whole Life Challenge again.  In short, the WLC (I'll call it that from now on) is a 2-month healthy habit challenge, that makes you focus in every day to make sure you're making the right choices.  It includes a pretty restrictive diet (if you go "prescribed"), and the expectation that you'll do at least 10 minutes of active recovery and 10 minutes of mobility (stretching) every day.  In addition, they rotate in other challenges, like drinking a certain amount of water, practicing mindfulness, etc.  All good stuff!  You can read more about the rules here, if you want.

Since I'm a pescetarian (I only eat fish and no other meat), the WLC "paleo" diet is harder for John and I (he's not cooking a lot of steaks for 1, so he eats what I eat 90% of the time).  Since I'm sort of on the line as far as using the "vegetarian" rules, the way I manage the challenge is that I allow myself to use the vegetarian rules if I am making a meal that won't include any fish.  That way I have the option to include quinoa, amaranth, etc. for some additional carbs/protein if needed.  There were some times on the last round of the WLC (which ran from Sept-Nov) that I could definitely tell I needed those options.  I'd realize that I had a funny sort of light-headedness and could feel that my body was running down its reserves.  I'd add sweet potatoes, quinoa, fish, eggs-- basically mix it up adding protein and the allowed carbs-- until I felt normal again.  I really needed the veg-friendly flexibility to be able to stay on track, without winding up with mercury poisoning from fish at every meal! All that said, I *rarely* take advantage of this exception, and prefer to try to come up with meals that meet all the requirements without using the veg-allowed crutches.

I'm going to try to keep up with documenting our WLC meals as we go, so that you can see what it is we're eating.  Here is our meal for night one (today):

This is a very simple recipe - shrimp scampi served over zucchini noodles with sauteed red pepper and onion.  The shrimp scampi is basically this recipe.  I discovered this awesome little gadget about a month ago, and John has fallen in LOVE with it, because it allows us to have "allowed" foods as the base for what would have been on pasta in a prior life (he's not a big fan of spaghetti squash, though I keep trying!).

So you use the awesome gadget to make the zucchini noodles then zap them in the microwave with a bit of water (so they steam).  Sautee the sliced pepper & onion in some butter, add them to the cooked zucchini and top it with the shrimp scampi.  Delicious!

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