As I've mentioned since my Paleo Challenge at my Crossfit gym earlier this year, I've since maintained a totally grain free vegan diet. I had such great results I now can't fathom eating any other way.
When I mention I'm grain free to other vegans, their first usual reaction is "I love grains! They're the basis for every meal for me. I could never do that!" This is kind of ironic to me considering it's the same type of answer we all usually get when speaking to an omnivore about eating meat, dairy or eggs!
Truth is I've actually found it pretty easy to make similar recipes to what I'm used to by using grain "substitutions", similar to how people will eat faux meats and cheeses when transitioning to veganism. Over the next few weeks, I'll give you some of my tricks as to how I've easily made this transition along with some of my new favorite recipes I've both adapted and created to make it possible.
First up today is grain free rice! I used to absolutely love rice, especially fried rice. Believe it or not, grated cauliflower has a very similar taste and texture to the real thing, so it works perfect in these kind of dishes. It's also really easy to prepare.
Here's my vegan adaptation of Urban Poser's Paleo Masala Cauli-Rice. To make this more of an entrée for vegans, I've added some delicious dry rubbed masala tofu to the dish. This recipe smells as amazing as it looks and tastes! When I brought leftovers of it into work one day everyone kept ducking into the break-room to see where the smell was coming from.
Masala Tofu and Cauli-Fried Rice
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium cauliflower head, grated (about 4 cups)
Half a large yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium-sized carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1 whole jalapeno, seeded and diced or 1/4 cup diced green pepper
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & grated ( about 1 teaspoon)
1/3 cup frozen petite green peas
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon Garam Masala seasoning (I used the pre-made type)
salt and pepper to taste (amounts will vary depending on if your masala mix was salted or not).
Garnishes: lime wedges & cilantro
Set your broiler to high so it gets nice and hot while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Press your tofu to remove as much moisture as possible. Then cut into triangles. Dry rub each piece with the reserved 1 tablespoon of Garam Masala. Lay on a broiler safe baking sheet coated in cooking spray and set aside until we're ready to broil it.
Grate the cauliflower with a hand grater or with a grating blade on a food processor. You can also use the regular blade on the food processor but it may result in a wetter, less "rice-like" product.
Prep the rest of the veggies minus the frozen peas (dicing, mincing) and set aside.
Mince the garlic and pepper, grate the ginger mixing them all together in a small bowl.
Mix together the spices in another small bowl and set aside.
Pop the tofu under the broiler for 6 minutes. When browned, flip the tofu and give it another 6 minutes. Tofu should be golden and crispy on the outside. When done set aside.
Heat a wok over high medium/high heat (on the "high" side), add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and then add the cauliflower. Toss it in the oil then spread it out in a thin layer as evenly as possible. Turn the burner up to high. Allow cauliflower to fry till it starts to brown a little then stir/flip it around, again spreading it in a thin layer. Do this a couple of times till the cauliflower starts to get brown and black flecks all over it, almost like it has been grilled. Transfer to a large bowl and place the wok back on the heat, turning the heat back down to medium/high. Spreading out the cauliflower and cooking it at a high heat like this keeps the cauliflower from steaming itself and getting soggy, and produces a very "rice-like" texture.
Add another tablespoon of coconut oil, then add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno/green pepper mix to the oil. Fry for about a minute but not so long that the mixture burns. Stir & toss often to keep from burning.
Add the prepared veggies (minus the peas) to the wok and cook just as you did the cauliflower. Spreading out and allowing them to fry and brown, stir & toss often till the veggies are cooked through and browned slightly. Transfer to the bowl with the cauliflower.
Return the wok to the heat and add the last tablespoon of coconut oil plus the spice mixture. Fry the spice mixture in the oil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then add the rest of the ingredients back into the wok. Add the green peas and continue to fry and toss all the ingredients together for about 1-2 minutes more. Add coarse sea salt and cracked pepper to taste. Salt amounts will vary depending on if your masala mix was salted or not. If it doesn't contain salt, I start with about 1 teaspoon of salt and work from there.
To serve, plate a serving of the cauli-rice and top with the masala tofu wedges. Serve with a wedge of lime, to be squeezed on top of the "rice" just before serving and some cilantro.
I never in a million years ever figured I'd post photos like this on the public interwebs, but here I am doing it anyway. Mostly because I'm kinda blown away by how ripped my back now looks. Please ignore the fact I look like a hot mess, because these were taking immediately after I finished sweating my face off during the challenge test out workout. Also, don't judge me for these shorts. After seeing them on film I know to burn them, they are so not flattering!
I am beyond happy with my results from my Crossfit gym's Paleo Challenge this past January and February. I'm actually now even after the challenge is done still eating this way and love it.
Here's essentially what the challenge entailed.
It started on January 2nd and ran up until February 13th. On these days our workout times and weight was recorded, so that we could measure the improvement after the program was completed. We also took our before/after photos on these dates after the Angie workout, which is why I look like such a sweaty mess in these photos.
Angie is a bitch. She's 100 pull-ups, 100 push ups, 100 sit-ups and 100 squats. Now that the challenge is completed, I've done the workout three times and have improved measurably each time.
As far as the eating thing goes, the foundation of Paleo is to eat all real, non-processed food. There is a heavy emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and for omni's free range organic meat and eggs. So it's really not all that different than veganism aside from the meat and eggs thing. There were three different levels they allowed people to participate in.
Beginner: eliminate sugar and grains; 1 cheat day a week.
Intermediate: eliminate sugar and grains; no cheat days.
Advanced: eliminate sugar, grains and dairy; no cheat days.
Expert: eliminate sugar, grains, dairy, legumes and alcohol; no cheat days.
I participated at the advanced level, but they allowed me to leave legumes in. The main reason they say to cut out legumes is most people are intolerant to them and they can cause bloating and something they call "leaky gut". I already knew I was tolerant to legumes since I've done elimination diets in the past and had no issues when I added them back into my diet.
So the big changes for me were no sugar, no alcohol and no grains. The grains one was a huge one for me. I love my gluten free pasta, rice, and all other things grainy. I had been gluten free for a long time but cutting out all grains, including rice, quinoa and corn was going to take a lot of focus and planning for me.
The one thing that really surprised me is after I cut the grains and sugar, I stopped having food cravings. I used to like to snack all day and now I don't have any desire to snack at all. I also crave natural food. When given the choice now between a bag of chips and an apple I without thinking chose the apple. It's made sticking to this way of eating much, much easier than I ever anticipated.
As you can see in the before and after photos, my body apparently loves life grain free! The weight just kinda started dropping off. I didn't increase my workouts or what I was doing, just changed my diet and within a week saw a measurable improvement which continued through the entire challenge.
At the end of the 45 days, here's how I came out.
Angie Time: 23:15
Weight: 154 pounds
Angie Time: 20:45
Weight: 147 pounds!
So I not only cut 3 minutes and 30 seconds off my time, but I also lost 7 pounds!
I also set several personal records during the time frame as well. I'm deadlifting and squatting over 160 pounds, and I even got a clean and jerk record of 98 pounds which for me was insane. Considering I've only been Crossfitting a little over 4 months, I'm pretty proud of that. Vegans can be strong too! I'm happy to be showing my non-veg friends at the gym that the weak vegan stereotype is a load of bull.
I may be strong, but I still have a lot of work to do. My cardio endurance is sad, so I've been given orders by my coach to work on things like burpees, double-unders (jumping rope) and just trying to move faster in my workouts. So that's my next focus.
I'm actually really looking forward to reading this post in the next 6 to 9 months or so and compare these results to the results I have then. I can only imagine how much I will have progressed by then if I got these results in a short 45 days.
Sadly, I didn't win the challenge but my improvements were still noticeable enough that people at the gym are asking me more about vegan paleo. One of the coaches today even asked me if I'd mind helping out with nutritional info for one of their clients who is vegetarian. I was really impressed he asked for help and acknowledged not being knowledgeable on the subject as opposed to pushing his client to eat standard paleo. This also shows me I'm being taken seriously enough at the gym as far as my performance goes that people would think to ask me about my diet as a viable option.
I really can't make any exceptions to the no grain thing. I retain a LOT of water if I eat them. It's gross.Immediately following the challenge, I somewhat fell off the wagon and during my Mexico trip drank a lot (obvi, I was surrounded by margaritas!) as well as had a lot of corn chips and boy did I pay for it. My body almost reverted back to the way I looked on day one. I'm now two weeks into eating super clean again and I'm leveling back out again thank goodness. Now I know I can't be one of those 90/10 paleo people. I have to eat clean all the time, no exceptions if I want to keep improving. Then again they say abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym, so I guess it makes total sense.
I plan on creating another post shortly which will outline better what I'm now eating on a daily basis, including what substitutions I've found for things like pasta and grains. There aren't a ton of vegan paleo posts out there on the internet so I'd love to share what I learned.
If anyone has any specific questions on crossfit, vegan paleo, what I eat or my results, please let me know!
I fairly recently changed up my workout routine and have been doing Crossfit. For those of you unfamiliar with Crossfit, here's the definition per the official website.
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.
Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.
The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. We’ve used our same routines for elderly individuals with heart disease and cage fighters one month out from televised bouts. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.
The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. Our terrorist hunters, skiers, mountain bike riders and housewives have found their best fitness from the same regimen.
Thousands of athletes worldwide have followed our workouts posted daily on this site and distinguished themselves in combat, the streets, the ring, stadiums, gyms and homes.
By the description, I know it sounds really intimidating and I'm not going to lie, it's not an easy program. In fact, I waltzed into the "intro" class figuring it would be a cakewalk due to working out regularly and being a fixture at my gym. Boy was I wrong. The intro class knocked me on my ass. Though I near wanted to vomit, I was instantly hooked and signed up for the On-Ramp program.
On-Ramp is a mandatory beginner program you have to take before you start the standard classes. In On-Ramp, they review all the highly technical Olympic weightlifting moves as well as proper form for standard calisthenics like push ups and squats. I started in October and my On-Ramp finished up the end of that month. Ever since, I've been going to the standard classes three to four times a week.
My favorite part of the program by far is the olympic style lifting. I love how highly technical it is. There's also something extremely satisfying about being able to lift weight that's heavier than what you believe you can.
So far, the results have been nothing short of amazing. initially, I didn't lose weight. I gained close to 10 pounds which I believe was all muscle. Issue though was suddenly none of my clothes fit (hence, no outfit posts recently). So although I was getting crazy strong and fit, I was living in leggings and anything stretchy being nothing, even my dresses fit. I was in near tears this past New Years after the realization only one of my dresses fit appropriately enough to wear out in public.
On January 2nd my box (Crossfit lingo for "gym") launched a 6 week Paleo challenge. Paleo and vegan usually do not mix, but all in all my box is really supportive of it's vegan community so for that aspect I'm really lucky. I'm not going to get too into Paleo or the challenge right now being I have enough to say about it to warrant its own post, but let's just say participating in the Paleo challenge has taken my Crossfit performance to another level. I've increased most of my lifts anywhere between 15-20 pounds and my fitness levels have sored. I've also started to get really lean. Remember those 10 pounds I put on? They're now gone plus some more as well as inches. And it's been less than 6 weeks! So vegans, don't dismiss Paleo! There are ways to do it and stay vegan, which I'll share later in another post.
So the box's Paleo challenge included eating foods approved on the program along with doing the popular Angie workout at the start of the challenge and then again after. This is to test to see how much your fitness has progressed. You also have to commit to having before and after photos taken. The challenge ends for me this Wednesday, so stay tuned for another post on my results along with easy ways to eat Paleo and vegan.
Needless to say, I'm now somewhat obsessed with Crossfit. Expect to see it as a regular feature on the blog as I progress with my training. I need another outlet besides boring Jim to death talking about it all the time!
Do you Crossfit? If so, I'd love to hear about it! I'd also love to hear any feedback my readers may have on posts you'd like to see on Crossfit as well, so if you have any suggestions hit me up.
Hello and Happy New Year! Sure, I'm almost an entire month late wishing everyone that. I hope you all had a great holiday season.
Immediately after Thanksgiving, I got sucked into the standard holiday obligation routine as well as my work schedule kicking into overdrive. In general, I have a lot of work travel between September and February every year so right now I'm in the heart of it. I'm also responsible for planning our national sales meeting, which is a huge undertaking so needless to say, I've been pretty busy!
A few other updates since I've been away from the blog.
I visited Iceland and it was AMAZING. For those of you who follow my Instagram account, you can see why. It's a stunning country. Post on my experience soon to come.
I caught the flu, twice! Once in early December and again the beginning of January. Two totally different strains. Lucky me. I'm still trying to recover.
I'm still doing Crossfit and have seen pretty amazing results. I'm kinda obsessed with it.
On the Crossfit thing, I decided to join my gym's 6 week "Paleo" challenge. Yes, I know Paleo and Vegan are polar opposites, but my gym was supportive and let me modify the program so I can leave my main protein sources, mainly legumes, in my diet. The big things I cut out were all grains, alcohol and sugar. Let me tell you, four weeks in and the results have been pretty fab. I'm totally on the "no grain" train right now. The winner wins a cash prize so it's been keeping me pretty motivated to stay on the program.
My best friend Nikki got engaged, and I'm her Matron of Honor. I'm so excited for her as well as her upcoming wedding in November of this year.
I recently dyed over my bright red dip dye in favor of a more red-velvety red over my entire head. It's a bit more subdued, which is taking me some getting used to but I love it. It's also now much easier for me to dress for work.
I booked a girls trip to Los Cabos, Mexico with one of my gal pals for the end of February. Perfect timing for me once my work hell month is over. I'm pretty excited for it. Best part is if I win the Paleo Challenge (which is the goal), it'll pay for the trip. Plus I'll be in amazing bikini shape. So now I have something to work towards and keep me focused.
I'm really hoping to get back to a normal posting schedule within the next week or two. In the meantime I figured I'd check in and let you know that yes, I'm still around and no, I have not forgotten about you!
Thank you to all my readers who checked in with me to make sure I was OK. It means the world to me!