Meatless Monday with Quinoa Cakes

If you caught my recent 32 in 32 post, the first item on the list was to be Vegetarian. Truth be told, I transitioned to a Vegetarian lifestyle a few weeks ago, but it’s been a struggle. I don’t miss meat, at all. In fact my diet previously was primarily vegetarian, but I apparently psyched myself out. Since saying the words, “I’m Vegetarian”, I’ve gone blank on meal ideas. I’ve been eating lots of homemade Pita chips and hummus…but a girl can’t live on hummus alone (no matter how delicious it is).

Enter Plated…and no, this is not a sponsored post or a referral link. I signed up with Plated months ago and have made a few meals from them, all delicious. So when I needed meal ideas, I ordered a few vegetarian meals from Plated to try out. They send you nearly every items you need to make the meal and the recipe card. The only thing I had to supply was some water, an egg, and some olive oil. I will admit this can be an expensive option which is why I don’t use it regularly, but it was incredibly helpful to have some help when I needed it this week.

Quinoa Cakes_Plated1

This particular meal was Quinoa Cakes with Pan Roasted Mushrooms. Simple. You can probably find hundreds of similar recipes on Pinterest…in fact, check here, I did a quick search for you.

Plated provided the mushrooms, quinoa, onion, breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese, chives, thyme, and a pad of butter.

While the Quinoa was cooking with the onions, I used the butter to pan roast the mushrooms. Then added some fresh thyme near the end of cooking.

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated2

Once the quinoa was cooked, it was mixed with an egg, garlic, pecorino cheese, chives, and breadcrumbs; then formed into 4 patties (this recipe was service for 2).

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated3

Sautéed in a little oil for about 4 minutes per side. I was worried they would fall apart when flipping, but they stayed together surprisingly well.

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Finished cakes topped with mushrooms, chives and a little sour cream (I added the cream, it was not in the recipe).

 Quinoa Cakes_Plated5

It was delicious and filling. Exactly what I needed to break out of my hummus rut. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow for lunch. I plan on making some more cakes, with my own twist on the recipes which I hope to share on here in the near future.

 

What are some of your favorite vegetarian/vegan meals? Feel free to link your own blog below in the comments if you have Vegetarian/Vegan friendly posts that I can check out! Or share your favorite Vegetarian/Vegan blogs, those would be helpful too.

Recipe: Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto

This has absolutely nothing to do with this recipe, but can’t stop myself from pacing this morning. I had to make an appt for my dog to go to the vet this afternoon and I’m more anxious about his appt than I get about my own (which is saying a lot since I get incredibly anxious before almost all doctor visits). Hopefully it’s a quick visit to get some antibiotics to make him feel better. Ever since I took my last dog in for what I thought was a routine visit and was told to put her down, I get obscenely worried before every vet visit with this dog. I just can’t handle that kind of unexpected news again.

 

Putting that all aside, let’s talk risotto! Namely the Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto that I made for dinner last night. Yesterday I did mention hat I thought it was a bit bland, but looking back that’s entirely my fault. I was out of parmesan cheese and forgot the thyme (doh!) so no wonder it tasted a little off. Here’s the full recipe (including the cheese & thyme).

 

Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto

Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto

Adapted from Health Magazine, via MyRecipes

Serves: Generous 6

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups water

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 (3-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 1/2 C frozen Peas

 

  • In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and water to a simmer. You will use this for the rice, so heat it on a back burner and start working on the squash. 
  • In a large saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Cook the squash with the ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Stir occasionally until squash is golden (about 8-10 minutes).

Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto

  • Add the thyme to the squash and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and to the skillet, reduce to simmer and cook until the squash is tender and broth has evaporated (another 8-10 minutes). Pour the cooked squash in a bowl and set aside.

Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto

  • Meanwhile, in a heavy pot over medium heat, cook onion using the remaining oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until onion is softened, stirring occasionally.  Add rice and toss to coat with oil; cook 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until almost completely absorbed (about 2 minutes). If prefer not to use wine in this recipe, swap it for the same amount of broth.
  • Stir 1/2 cup simmering broth into rice and cook at a strong simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding more, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente (about 20 minutes total); mixture should be the consistency of thick soup. (There may be leftover broth.)
  • Add in the peas in the last 3-4 minutes of cooking to allow them to defrost in the rice mixture.

Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto

  • Once the peas are warmed throughout, add in the butter, cheese, and squash.

Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto

  • Serve immediately. Crusty French bread is recommended but not required. (who are we kidding…break out the bread!)

This meal does make a very generous amount and I’ve found that it reheats well. It can also be frozen in single servings to be reheated at a later date. For a variety, mix in a protein or serve of a bed of spinach.

Butternut Squash & Pea Risotto

*Some of these instructions are directly from the MyRecipes site as they are far better than I at providing instructions on the basic risotto steps.

A Weight Off My Shoulders (& Hips)

Vacation Mode Goals Update:

Two days into the work week, and the goals have been successful so far. When I was on vacation, I was able to easily get up early and walk Baxter around 6:30am. I honestly didn’t think I’d stick with it, since I’m a die hard night owl. However, yesterday and today I made a point to get up early and take Bax on a 30 minutes speed walk. By 7am it’s already 70 degrees, so you go for a walk early or not at all.

Before setting these vacation mode goals…

On a typical weekday I would wake up late, check my email before I’m even out of bed. Immediately begin stressing out about work issues, skip breakfast, feed Bax, then head upstairs to pace the office for a bit, talking to myself, while my computer starts up then start working.

After…

Wake up before the alarm clock and put on my tennis shoes while Baxter eats breakfast. Head out for a 30-40 minute walk with Bax. Return home, shower, eat breakfast, check twitter/news then head upstairs and scan my work emails on my phone while my computer starts up, start working.

A MAJOR difference if you ask me. I have been oddly calm both yesterday and today, and I’m completely caught up on work right now. I think it all has to do with the morning walks.

I’ve also kept up with my workout, healthy eating, being presentable, and making lists. I haven’t meditated like I’d hoped, but I think I can consider the walking an outdoor mediation for now.

 

A Weighty Issue…

I promised to be very honest about a lot things on this blog, including the constant fight I have with my weight, which I’ve battled all my life. I feel somewhat comfortable opening up about this now since I’m actually making some progress. Accountability is key so, here we go.

If you’ve been keeping up with the blog since the beginning (which was a mere week ago), you may remember reading that I gained an extreme amount of weight over the past two years, 80 pounds to be exact. At the time, I was just breaking 200 lbs after losing about 30, so I wasn’t even at my goal weight when I started gaining again. At my highest I dented the scale at 280…OUCH!

There are so many reasons why I got to that point, depression and disordered eating being the main two reasons. But as anyone who’s battled their weight over a lifetime knows, it’s never as easy as it seems to fix the issue.

I’ve never been one for quick fix diets, weight loss pills, or ‘celebrity’ diets. I’ve never tried the cabbage soup diet or eaten only protein. I’ve never done a master cleanse or delighted in the cookie diet. These plans have never sounded effective to me, since I’ve never been looking for a quick fix. I have, however, been looking for a healthy lifestyle that felt right to me. One that would be tasty, help me lose the weight, then later maintain a healthy lifestyle. One that wouldn’t feel like deprivation or make me desire to binge on 8 dozen cupcakes at a time. Lately I’ve been blending several ways of thought together to create an eating plan that works for me.

In November, I started following the 17 day diet because the eating plan made sense to me. At the time I was binging a lot and following the strict eating plan helped me get back on track, like eating bootcamp. In a month, I had lost 20 lbs and started feeling so much better about myself. However, life got in the way and I stopped eating healthy, gaining back about 10 lbs.

My mom used to tell me that you couldn’t change a person, they needed the desire to change for themselves in order for the change to stick. I second that by adding that it can’t simply be a ‘desire’ to change. I’ve desired a change all my life, but I’ve finally reached that moment where I want to live authentically and make the necessary changes, not just desire them anymore.

In the past few weeks I started reading Crazy Sexy Diet, Tracy Andersons Method, Food Revolution, several resources by Kathy Freston, as well as many other publications. All were leading me toward the same thing, a Vegetarian eating style that cut out processed food and sugar. Seems so simple, but I guess I just had to be ready to learn, and ready to make the change for good.

My food plan lately has been completely meat free and I feel amazing. I’ve also cut out a majority of dairy and gluten, but I do plan on slowing integrating those back into my diet. I have no desire to give up milk, cheese, or eggs long term at this point. I also know I can physically tolerate Gluten, so I don’t need to cut it out to be healthy. In the end I’m torn on whether I’ll continue to be vegetarian long term or just a majority of the time. However, it fits in my lifestyle now, and it has had such a positive effect on my life so far.

 

Progress Update…

I’ll try to make weight progress updates a weekly feature to keep myself accountable. So far, I’m down 28 lbs and I’ve almost broken through the 250s. I can’t tell you how amazing that feels, just 28 lbs lighter and everything is easier. I’ve also started following Tracy Andersons 30 day Method (although I’m not following her eating plan) and I absolutely adore the cardio element. I grew up dancing and this is essentially 30-40 minutes of pure happiness everyday. How can you go wrong with that?

Adding the dancing, strength training, and morning dog walks have obviously made a difference. Next week I’ll give you a weight loss progress update along with measurements to see just how effective this new eating/workout plan really is. Here’s hoping that the scale has me in the 240’s, and I’ll officially be down 30 lbs.

 

How else have I changed lately…did you hear I cut off 20 inches of hair recently! Maybe that accounts for a few of the pounds!

Wordless Eats Wednesday

Wordless Eats Wednesday is a new feature on CMD (Changing My Destiny) which will provide photos of the best eats from the past week. Some of the recipes may be posted in the week that follows, but please be sure to request recipes in the comments section if there something that you really want.

Homemade Fish Tacos, Trader Joes, Corn Tortillas, Baked Cod, Cilantro Dressing, Cabbage

 BBQ Steaks, Corn on the Cob in Foil

 Whip Cream Cake made with Chocolate Wafers, Whip Cream, Homemade Vanilla 

 Spinach Salad with Garlic Hummus, Carrots, Tomatoes, Cabbage dressed with Avocado Oil

 Green Juice Drink made with Cucumbers, Apples, and Celery. Lemon and Lime in the background

 Quinoa Salad made with Quinoa, Avocado, Feta, and Chopped Walnuts

 Vegetarian Dinner with Sweet Potato, Quinoa Avocado Feta Salad, and Balsamic Rosemary Mushrooms

 Balsamic Rosemary Mushrooms

 

Posted Recipes: Whip Cream Cake, Fish Tacos