Snacking in the Office

Some days in the office I feel like I’m always hungry. No matter how big my lunch was, when 3pm rolls around my stomach is growling for something more.  For those afternoon cravings, here are my favorite snacks to keep me away from the vending machine and get me through the day:

Nuts and Seeds: I’m currently on a walnut kick, but nuts like almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews, are great sources of vitamin E, fiber, and unsaturated fat. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are also great mixed with nuts or on their own, and contain vitamin E and iron.

Walnut bowl at my desk

Walnut bowl at my desk

Fruit: Apples, bananas, peaches, oranges, plums: Fruits are nature’s perfectly snack-sized gifts to us. Simply grab an apple or banana on your way out the door and you’re good to go when the munchies attack! No need for packaging of any kind. What could be easier?

Vegetables and Hummus: I love hummus because it’s such a great source of protein. Celery or carrots are my favorite veggies to dunk into this delicious chickpea- and tahini-based dip, but pretty much any of your favorite vegetables make great vehicles for enjoying hummus. Hummus comes in so many different flavors now– a few I’ve tried include cilantro, black bean and spicy hummus. Your taste buds will never be bored!

Avocado and Crackers: Avocado is such a nutrient-rich food–it’s full of vitamins B, C, E, and K, among many others and it’s filling as well. All you need to do is slice a ripe avocado and place it atop your favorite cracker. A trick I’ve learned is to squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on a cut avocado to keep it from turning brown. That way you can store it for a snack later as well.

Happy Snacking! What are your favorite snacks for when the munchies attack?

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Meatless Monday: Green Pepper Curry

Indian curries are one of the easiest foods to make vegan or vegetarian. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find Indian spices, but rest assured that garam masala can be found in most grocery stores—I’ve certainly seen it at Giant, Harris Teeter and Whole Foods. This green pepper curry recipe is perfect with a side of basmati rice, quinoa or naan (Indian bread).

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Ingredients

1 1⁄2 green bell peppers

3 ripe tomatoes, or about 7oz canned tomatoes

1 1⁄2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon garam masala

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon turmeric powder

Instructions

Cut the green pepper into one-inch pieces and the tomatoes into large chunks

Heat the oil in a wide pan and add the cumin seeds.

Stir, and then add the green pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, mashing them down as they soften.

Add the salt, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and brown sugar.

Stir well, then simmer, covered, for 7 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked to your preference.

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I sometimes add frozen peas to mine just to make it extra green!

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

On my last day in the beautiful sunshine, I filled trash bags to the brim with lemons from our older-than-me lemon tree to bring back to share with my DC family and friends:

lemon tree

I only went for the low hanging fruit (vegetable?), as you can see 🙂

Every “winter” (if that’s what you call 70 degrees in January/February in Phoenix), our family receives an overabundance of fresh lemons that our tree dutifully produces. When I saw this list last month of benefits to drinking lemon water, I was excited. I’ve always enjoyed drinking lemon water because it felt refreshing, particularly after a heavy meal. What I didn’t know though, was that it can also reduce pain and replace body salts after a workout, among many other amazing benefits. picking a lemon More than the benefits though, what I really hope you’ll take away from this post is how easy it is to incorporate a healthy habit into your everyday life. You don’t need to subscribe to complicated, expensive juice cleanses to release toxins from your body–though if that’s what you enjoy, by all means do so. I just need you to know that eating and living well isn’t a zero-sum game. If you simply squeeze a cut lemon into your water at morning or night, you can help reduce bacteria growth in your body. Just a squeeze is all it takes–wasn’t that lemon easy?

Get Cozy with a Bowl of Vegan Split Pea Soup

One of the best things about the chilly temperatures is that I get the opportunity to warm up with homemade soups. I love letting this split pea soup simmer in my crock pot on a lazy Sunday afternoon. This recipe makes enough for four servings, which I packed up to take for a week’s worth of lunches. Love it with a bread (or gluten-free) roll.

split peas

Crock Pot Split Pea Soup Recipe (makes 4 bowls)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of dried split peas (rinsed)
  • 2 medium carrots  (rinsed, peeled and diced)
  • 1/2 white onion (chopped)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 4.25 cups of hot water

Instructions

  • Layer the ingredients in the crock pot according to the order listed above
  • Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 8-9 hours
  • Turn off heat when peas have cooked to your preference and remove bay leaf
  • Optional–gently mash with a fork to reach your preferred consistency
  • Serve and Enjoy!
Lunches made-- ready to grab and go!

Lunches made– ready to grab and go!

What are your favorite soups to cuddle up with this winter?

Four Reasons Why I love Smoothies, Even in the Winter

I drink smoothies almost daily, throughout the year, even when it’s 19 degrees out in DC like it is now. I just can’t get enough and so today I thought I’d share with you my top four reasons for loving smoothies, all year round:

Smoothies for 4--sometimes I feel fancy and use wine glasses

Smoothies for 4–sometimes I feel fancy and use wine glasses

1. They’re Easily Digestible: Sometimes fresh produce can be difficult to chew. Whenever I’m eating raw kale, for example, I feel like I need to chew it all day long. Throwing that raw kale into a smoothie makes it easier for me to get down more than I could if I were eating it.

2. They’re Quick and Easy: If you only have two minutes in the morning, all you need is a blender and a to-go cup. To make things easier, keep your veggies and fruit washed and chopped the night before. All you have to do when you wake up is blend and pour! You can bring it with you in the car or train as you get to work. How simple is that?

3. They’re Nutrient-Rich: Even when I’m diligent about washing my hands the moment I get to work or home after using public transportation, it’s inevitable in the winter months that I catch a cold. Smoothies are an excellent way to boost your vitamin intake. Whenever I feel a sign of a cold coming on, I immediately down a smoothie made with extra pineapples, berries and OJ.

Me on the metro realizing I got coughed on

Me on the metro realizing I got coughed on

4. You Can’t Mess Them Up! The best thing about smoothies is that you can add however much of your favorite fruits and vegetables as you like. If you don’t like blueberries, substitute with raspberries! Out of bananas? Why not try an avocado! Not enough frozen fruit? Just add extra ice. The possibilities are endless and there’s no way to mess up a smoothie–so drink up to your health. Cheers!

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? I’d love to try it out!

How I Start My Days

My parents have been early proponents of daily meditation but I never caught on the bandwagon until I started feeling constantly stressed-out. I came to meditation as way to regain balance in my life and to feel like I was in control again. New research has shown that meditation can have serious benefits–more than just reducing stress, it can actually help increase memory and reduce brain loss! If you haven’t already tried it out, I encourage you to give it a go.

I prefer meditating in the morning. If it’s unusually cold out (like it’s been this DC winter!), I’ll sit in a chair in my room away from noise. If I’m at home and soaking in the sunshine like I am this week, I like to meditate on my morning run, with this beauty by my side:

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Where and when you meditate doesn’t really matter at all. You just need to find some uninterrupted time to yourself. At first, just a few minutes was all I could handle, so absolutely take baby steps. You can always add a few minutes each day once you get the hang of it. I like to repeat a few words in my head along the lines of: May I be full of lovingkindness, May my parents be full of lovingkindness, etc., until I’ve named everyone I think about. Simply sitting in silence also provides equal benefits–you just have to find what works for you!

Have you ever tried meditation? If so, have you noticed any benefits? Let me know if you give it a try!

The Importance of Eating a Plant-Based Diet

A recent Nielsen report showed that globally, nearly half of the 30,000 survey respondents considered themselves overweight. Many in this survey report working hard to incorporate dietary changes and when asked to choose among various options including reducing carbohydrates consumption, eating smaller portions of the same meals or adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to meals, the last choice proved to be the most popular among respondents. 60% of North Americans who are trying to lose weight and a whopping 68% of our neighbors in Latin America state that increasing plant-based intake is their primary method of weight loss.

These statistics tell us that indeed we are headed on the right track. Doctors have proven time and time again, that a plant-based diet is one of the best dietary changes that can lead to sustained weight loss. In every corner of the world we are beginning to understand the power of vegetables and fruits, but at the same time it can be a daunting challenge to make such a shift. My ultimate goal at GreenMind/VegHeart is to share with you recipes, tips, tricks, and encouragement that can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle for a happier and greener heart and mind.