Let’s try this again

I have been absent from many aspects of my life for far too long. I am finally climbing out from under the self-created mess of my life and am ready to get back into the upswing of things again.

I have already been getting back on the Low fat, Whole Foods, Plant Based way of eating “wagon”. My mom and Step Dad were here for the holidays and are such an inspiration. Mom has gone from a size 10 to a size 6. Step Dad has continued to manage his blood sugar and avoid taking any Diabetes medication for the past year. They both look so great and are so full of life and energy. I had lost my vitality when I went away from this way of eating. I was lethargic, depressed, regaining all the weight lost and uninspired. Thankfully, my mom is my Muse and after a few weeks of having her around I have a renewed drive and my creativity has been reawakened. Thank you Mom!!

When it comes to going back to the Low fat, Whole Foods, Plant Based (let’s just call it LWP, shall we) way of eating, I have really come to see that my family, myself included, really prefer when I take old family favorite recipes and transform them into LWP faire. Take that Shepherds Pie recipe, I posted in a previous blog, for instance. That was a family favorite made with ground beef instead of the mushroom mix and cream and butter in the mashed potatoes, and usually topped with shredded cheese too. We find the LWP version so much more enjoyable. We love that the new LWP versions of old, fat laden family favorites are guilt free. They don’t weigh us down or wear us out.  It is so much the opposite, when we eat LWP, we have so much MORE energy, drive and ambition.  (I’m sure I’m repeating myself here, but I think it bears worth repeating, plus it helps remind me why I need  want to eat this way. I really enjoy waking up early and ready to start my day.  I also like that even after waking up early, and working hard I don’t find myself ready for bed early.  I live my day much more to its fullest, and everyday you wake up is a day worth living to its fullest.)

So I asked the family what they had been craving. The answer, Cheeseburger soup and stroganoff.  Great, creamy recipes, those are the hardest to convert.  Good thing I like a good challenge.  I created a Portobello stroganoff, loads of baby bello’s quartered and steam fried with thinly sliced onions and minced garlic.  I am a big fan of the “Not Beef” & “Not Chicken” Boullion, these are like gold when converting recipes like these.  So I made the not beef bouillon broth, added Dijon mustard, lots of pepper and thickened with cornstarch.  The sour cream substitute is nothing more than lite tofu blended with fresh lemon juice and a bit of salt.  Stir that in at the end and serve over cooked bow tie pasta.  For the Cheeseburger soup, I was admittedly nervous.  I would usually double the original recipe because it was always such a big hit.  This time, I was so uncertain of the final outcome that I only made a single batch, this proved to be a BIG mistake.  That pot was nearly licked clean.  All I did was substitute LightLife brand Ground “Beef” for the ground beef, plain, unsweetened Almond milk for the whole milk, I thickened with cornstarch instead of a butter and white flour rue, and swapped vegan “cheese” for the velveeta.  Holy Moly that was the most amazing conversion to date.  I have yet to enter into my cookbook so I have no idea what the numbers where but it’s on my to do list. I will try to remember to post the comparison after I get it figured out.  One more new tasty dish I want to share was my Tamale Pie.  This was a free form recipe that I created as I went.  It was so well received that I stopped eating so I could scribble down the recipe.  I’ll post it at the end for you.  I hope you’ll try it.

It hasn’t just been the diet that scattered into the breeze, it has been the exercise too. Here is what we used to do…

This summer the Kiddo finally (for her 13th Birthday) asked for a bicycle and was ready to learn to ride.  Can I just tell you how incredible she is? The week of her birthday she practiced, got frustrated, and quit trying to ride her dad’s bike.  The day we picked up her bike she climbed on and in an hour and a half she was confidently riding.  I could hardly get her off her bike.  The next day we rode 13 miles.  Two days after that, we rode 23 miles.  So we started making an effort to ride our bikes as a family every weekend.

I was also making the effort to get out and walk while hanging with my Grandma 3 days a week. As well as walking in our neighborhood with friends.

Well, our lives got in the way and everything came to a screeching halt.  So now that we are  regrouped and settled we are getting back in the saddle.  We have been for a ride, we have had the dogs out to the dog park, and I am starting back to my walking as of TODAY!  I cranked out a 2.4 mile walk this morning and my body kept up!!  I was shocked.  I was really expecting a lot more resistance from my legs, knees and back.  But nope, seems it wasn’t just my spirit that was rearing to go.  I have got to share, that felt so incredible to be back outside, breaking a sweat and pounding the pavement. My step mom has suggested I put Grandma in her wheelchair and push her around the block, considering she lives in the foothills and not in the flat lands, that will be a good bit of work out and think I am up for that challenge.  Plus, it will get Grandma out and about in the sunshine. Win, Win.

Ok, so I think I’ve gone on long enough.  I need to save something for another post.  So I’ll leave you with my Tamale Pie Recipe.  If you make it, please come back and post a comment about your experience in making it.  I am new (ish) to writing recipes and would love any feedback.

Tamale Pie

*note: I cook large pots of beans, I let them cool and then measure (loosely) 1 1/2 cups into sandwich sized ziplocs and place in the freezer.  They are equal to  a 14 oz. can and with as many beans as we consume, one day of cooking beans (of all types) saves my family enough money to make it worth my time.  I do the same with brown rice.  I also like to buy fresh anaheim chiles in bulk, blacken them on my gas stove (broiling works too) and then I freeze them individually for later use.  When the peppers thaw thaw skin slides right off. The polenta can usually be found in the pasta aisle.  If you can find the one with green chiles and cilantro, use that.  You can also make a basic polenta recipe and while still warm and creamy, spread over the filling, then top with the “cheese” and bake.


1/2 onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic minced

14 ounces Light Life Smart Ground

4 Tablespoons Chili Powder

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 Tablespoon Garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 can (14 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (14 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (14 oz) corn, drained

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

1/2 cup water

2 anaheim chile peppers, charred, skinned, seeded and chopped

1 roll (16 oz) prepared polenta, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1/4 of a roll of Teeze brand cheese substitute, Mozzarella flavor, grated


Steam fry the onions and garlic (this is using a tablespoon of water at a time, just to prevent sticking) until tender.  Add int he smart ground.  Using the spoon, break up and stir the smart ground until you have it broken into smaller than bite sized pieces, like ground beef. Stir in spices, beans, corn, tomatoes, water and peppers. Simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and spices as desired. Pour into an oven proof casserole dish. Cover top with the sliced polenta.  Top with the grated “cheese”. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until filling is hot and bubbly.

Makes 6 servings



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