Thursday 2Go: Breakfast Ready When You Are

Eating healthy can be a challenge in today’s fast-moving world—trust me, I know. I’m studying for a graduate degree in the evenings while working a full-time job during the day. Between work and class, sometimes I barely have time to think about cooking a fresh and healthy meal.

Today’s Thursday 2Go features a breakfast dish you can make ahead and keep refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for a few weeks. Eating a healthy and nutritious breakfast ensures that you have a solid foundation to face the day. Beat the morning rush with this recipe.

Thursday 2Go: Wheat Berry Cereal

Wheat berries are used to produce whole wheat flour, but offer many more nutrients in their whole seed form. Because wheat berries are unrefined, they retain nutrients and fiber that processed wheat products do not have. My favorite type of wheat berry to use for this breakfast cereal is called Khorasan wheat, or commercially sold as Kamut

My recipe here uses Khorasan wheat, but you can use regular wheat berries in the same way.

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Bring two and a half cups of water to boil and add in one cup of your grain in a medium-sized sauce pan. I soak my Khorasan berries overnight to reduce cooking time, but it’s not necessary.

After two minutes, reduce heat to a simmer for around 30 to 40 minutes, or until berries are chewy but not tough. It’s important to be flexible with cooking times when cooking with whole berries, as it can vary depending on the type you use. After about 25 minutes of cooking, you can begin to taste a few pieces to taste for readiness while you leave it simmering on the stove. Because wheat berries take a while to cook, the most time-efficient way to cook these is by the batch. One dry cup of wheat berries creates four servings.

I store my cooked grains in the fridge. In a separate container, I store washed and chopped fruit for my mix-ins.

In the morning all you need to do is scoop your wheat berries and favorite fruit into a bowl, mix and enjoy!

My favorite combination is chopped pear and raspberries.

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Now that you’ve got a healthy and filling breakfast in your stomach, you’ll be ready to face the new day ahead.

What types of breakfasts do you eat to start your days?

This post contains my affiliate links to products I use and recommend to my readers. When you purchase through the above link, I might get paid a commission. Whether you use the link or buy the product is entirely up to you.

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Organic or Not? How to Decide What to Buy

People who follow plant-based diets tend to eat many more fruits and veggies naturally, because we substitute plants for meat. If you’ve gone grocery shopping as a veg*n, you probably noticed that produce was one of the most expensive items on your bill, right? That’s why it’s called Whole Paycheck. Oh sorry, I meant Whole Foods.

These days you can find an organic option for almost every conventional fruit or vegetable at the grocery store. How do you decide which organic items you should spring for, and when you can save your hard-earned cash and go with the non-organic option?

It’s easy, simply bring this handy Environmental Working Group’s 2015 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce with you the next time you’re out stocking up your fridge.

The 12 fruits and vegetables most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue:

Apples

Peaches

Nectarines

Strawberries

Grapes

Celery

Spinach

Sweet bell peppers

Cucumbers

Cherry tomatoes

Snap peas

Potatoes

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Two of the Top Perpetrators

The 15 fruits and vegetables least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue:

Avocados

Sweet corn

Pineapples

Cabbage

Sweet peas

Onions

Asparagus

Mangoes

Papayas

Kiwis

Eggplant

Grapefruit

Cantaloupe

Cauliflower

Sweet potatoes

Organic or not, be sure to wash your produce before eating. Grocery shopping can be a challenge but luckily the EWG has done its research to help us figure out which produce items may contain the highest amounts of pesticides. Do you follow this list? Which items (if any) do you buy organic/conventional?

Native Foods Cafe: My Trip to an All-Vegan Restaurant

After spending a few days at a beautiful vacation spot that lacked variety in veg*n food options, I was so excited to return back to my home in DC where I had a fantastic opportunity to try out a new (less than a year old!) restaurant called Native Foods Cafe, located just south of Dupont Circle.

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Native Foods Cafe is fast-casual, all-vegan cafe that was founded in California and has now expanded to many cities across the U.S. Their menu is 100% plant-based and they prepare everything fresh, each and every day.

Broccoli family!

Broccoli family!

Tracy and Jack, my gracious hosts, welcomed myself and my best friend (a fellow vegetarian!) to the restaurant and gave us cups to fill with their homemade juice while we deliberated over the menu. We both went for the Watermelon Fresca, which was made with fresh watermelon and mint. So refreshing! There were so many juices to taste from and I can’t wait to try them all!

So many juices, how to pick just one!?

So many juices, how to pick just one!?

I had a chance to check out the super sweet art work all over walls in downstairs area, where more seating was available. It was all so cheery and put a big smile on my face. I loved the broccoli family especially. Here are some more cute plants:

Beet of the Drums!

Beet of the Drums!

Our mouths were watering when Jack brought us our meal. I ordered the Twister Wrap, with a side of Lemongrass Broccoli and my friend ordered the Chicken, Bacon & Avo Club with a side of Crispy Sweet Potato Fries. Oh my gosh! We were blown away by how good it all tasted. We just couldn’t get over the fact that everything was 100% vegan–the “chicken” in our meals was so soft and moist, we could hardly believe it wasn’t the real thing. My Twister Wrap was full of yummy veggies, Native chicken, and a creamy ranch sauce. The broccoli had the perfect amount of lemongrass and just enough heat to give it a little zing. My friend loved her club sandwich and her sweet potato fries were perfect (I definitely grabbed a few from her plate!). With just a touch of cinnamon and sugar, they were the best complement to her meal.

Twister Wrap and Lemongrass Broccoli

Twister Wrap and Lemongrass Broccoli

Chicken, Bacon & Avo Club with Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

Chicken, Bacon & Avo Club with Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

By the time we got to dessert we were so full–but Jack insisted we try their delicious, dairy-free desserts. I am a sucker for carrot cake, so when I saw the Carrot Caramel Cupcake, I couldn’t resist. My friend went with the Peanut Butter Parfait and we nibbled on our desserts outside. We really couldn’t get over the fact that my cupcake was made without eggs–it practically melted in my mouth. So yummy!

Peanut Butter Parfait

Peanut Butter Parfait

Carrot Carmel Cupcake

Carrot Caramel Cupcake

Jack and Tracy made sure my trip to Native Foods Cafe was exceptional. I feel so lucky to have an eco-friendly, plant-based restaurant with a wide range of choices so close to where I live. When you’re in DC or anywhere near a Native Foods Cafe, I absolutely recommend you check it out. Native Foods will equally impress your vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore friends.

Full Disclosure: Native Foods Cafe provided me this meal in exchange for my unbiased review here at greenmindvegheart.wordpress.com. I did not receive financial compensation for this post.

This Week’s Lunches

Does anyone else go through phases of weeks (or months!) where you find yourself eating the same thing over and over again? This happens to me all the time!

I try out a new recipe/experiment that I love and then become obsessed with it.

This week the main portion of daily work lunches consisted of my latest creation: kale avocado salad.

As you can tell from my last two posts…I love these two, but never tried them together. This all changed when I thought surely my two favorite green foods would taste even better together.

To make a salad, all you do is wash you kale and put it in a bowl. Then, mash half an avocado into the kale bed and sprinkle some corn on top. I’m not much of a dressing person. I usually either drizzle my veggies in olive oil, or with this salad, a few squirts of hot sauce.

I loved this kale avocado salad and though I may take a break from it next week, it’ll definitely be a staple in my lunch rotations.

How about you? What did you munch on at your desk this week? What have you been obsessed with lately?

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kale avocado mash salad

An Ode to Avocados

Naming my favorite fruit (or is it a vegetable?) is truly a challenge because there are so many that I love. But avocados have a special place in my veg heart. They’re portable, stand out on their own, and pack in a nutritional powerhouse.

When I talk about portable-an avocado is the perfect picnic nosh, now that spring is in the air. Packing a filling meal to go is so easy with these alligator pears, as they’re sometimes called. It’s already packaged in its own skin. All you need to do is place the ripe avocado in your picnic bag, throw in a bag of corn chips and you have a meal! Simply cut your avocado lengthwise in half and you and a friend each have a boat to scoop away with chips. This half avocado and chips combination will fuel your day lounging around the park.

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My picnic lunch–the avocado, hanging out at the park

Of course I couldn’t write about avocados without mentioning guacamole! Guacamole in a bean burrito is probably one of best meals; I could eat it at any time of the day. Avocado can also be used as a fantastic cheese substitute in sandwiches. Simply slice a ripe avocado and use it in place of dairy-based cheese. Mashed avocado is a wonderful DIY dressing when you need a little something to make your salad heartier.

Did I mention the avocado is super healthy? Avocados contain vitamin k, vitamin c, vitamins B5 & B6, and vitamin E. If you need to increase your potassium intake, avocados contain more potassium than bananas. Sure, avocados get a bad rap because they’re high in fat, but you’ll be pleased to know that nearly 80% of that fat is monounsaturated fat, which is necessary for a healthy heart. Even more, that healthy fat in avocados helps your body better absorb nutrients from other vegetables!

So the next time you want to get creative with a sandwich, salad, wrap, or snack, why not try some avocado?

Meatless Monday: 4 Ways to Try Kale

Kale is often touted by experts as one of the best foods for your health. Nutritionists, though, haven’t yet agreed upon an optimal preparation method for our bodies to maximize all of kale’s fantastic benefits. Switch up your routine with these 4 different and simple ways to enjoy kale, and ensure you make the most of this versatile vegetable.

1. Chips. Baking kale gives it a nice texture, akin to potato chips without the carbs. To make kale chips, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, wash and dry your kale leaves. Rip kale off of its stem into 1 inch pieces. Place kale pieces into a mixing bowl and toss with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Then, place kale onto baking sheet, taking care to evenly spread the pieces. Place tray into oven and let bake for 10-15 minutes. Kale chips are done when pieces are crisp. If you prefer your chips to be extra crispy, take the tray out of the oven, and flip each piece of kale over. Place tray back into oven, bake in oven for 10 minutes and remove.

2. Salad. You can never go wrong with a kale salad, and this one really lets the kale shine. First, wash and dry your kale leaves. Rip kale off from stem and shred very finely. Place finely shredded kale into salad bowl and toss with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes for extra kick.

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3. Steamed. Steaming kale makes the tough green softer and easier to digest. Steam also unlocks nutrients that are difficult for your body to benefit from when eating raw kale. To steam kale, first wash and dry your leaves. Rip kale into 1 inch pieces and depending on your preferences, leave stem attached, or discard. If you have a steamer, bring water in the pot to boil and place the kale pieces in the steamer basket. Close lid and let steam for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. If you don’t have a steamer, no worries! Simply fill a pot with a few inches of water. Bring water to boil and place kale into pot. Cover with lid and let steam for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve steamed kale with crushed garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

4. Juice. Juicing vegetables is a growing trend among the health conscious. Juicing kale helps your body absorb nutrients that you might miss from chewing it. First, wash and dry your kale leaves. Another benefit of juicing is that juicers are able to handle both the tough stem and the leaves of kale, doubling the nutrition you gain. Combining greens with Vitamin C aids digestion, and I love to juice my kale with pineapple and carrots. Experiment with the proportions of your favorite fruits and vegetables with kale to make your favorite, customized juice!

By mixing up the way you use kale—eating it raw or cooked, and drinking it, you ensure that your body has plenty of opportunity to make the most of this green powerhouse. Preparing kale is easy in any form, tasty and offers many of the vitamins and minerals vital to your health.