May The Force Be With YOU! So, Who Wants In On This Plant Strong Spud?

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Well…I hope you all want a piece of the action, because, my oh my, these little starch bombs just explode with heaps of flavor! Was caught in a bit of a pinch food-wise yesterday after returning home from an early morning, extremely agonizing, foot surgery. With the cupboards seemingly bare at first glance, I took another (much more creative) look around – managing to pull together a few handy, and easy to assemble, ingredients! Still going strong on the old anesthetic round dinner time, I was determined to rustle something up myself. You know those times when only home-cooked grub will do…especially, especially, when you’re not feeling quite so chipper?!

So anyway, I spurned the offer of take-out, and on went the spuds. All in, this took about an hour to do. With the fillings being rustled up in about 15 minutes or so, I had plenty of time to get my R.I.C.E. on 😉

Being the best call I could have made in terms of getting properly nourished in a most critical moment, everpost-meal, I felt like I could take on the world, and its wife! Indeed, you could absolutely say, that once again, the force was well and truly with me! Yup, it was a proper lightsaber (oh yes, intended), so here’s how to make…

Ingredients

  • 4, medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup, plain hummus
  • 2 cups, raw spinach
  • 2 cups, frozen broccoli
  • 2 cups, frozen cauliflower
  • 1 can (425g), black beans (no salt added)
  • 1/4 cup, walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon, garlic powder
  • To taste, salt and black pepper
  • Additional toppings, if desired – Nutritional yeast, or, Hot sauce, or, whatever is your usual go-to “tay-toe” garnish

Preparation:

  • Begin by pre-heating the oven to 400°F for about 10 minutes.
  • Wash the potatoes thoroughly. Then wrap each one in a piece of aluminum foil, up to about midway or so (you’ve done this before!).
  • Place on a parchment lined baking tray.
  • Pierce the top of each about 5 or 6 times with a fork, and then grind a little sea-salt on top.
  • Let them bake for around 55 minutes, then when done, switch off the oven and let them sit with the door slightly ajar for a further 10 minutes to cool down – they will be piping!

So, while the spuds are doing their thing, you can get on with the fillings…

  • Wash the spinach, and set aside in a bowl.
  • Drain the black beans, then throwing them in a sieve, rinse off any excess slime/ liquid from the can under the tap.
  • Set them aside in a paper-towel lined bowl, and then pat them dry with another paper-towel over the top, and throughout, as best you can.
  • Boil your frozen broccoli and cauliflower together (this should take less than 10 minutes), adding a tablespoon of garlic powder for a little extra flavor while they cook.
  • Drain, mash, and again set the mix aside in a separate bowl once done. Stir in a shake or two of black pepper here for good measure!

Now, with your bits and bobs all ready to go, grab the potatoes and get stuffing… 

  • Slice the spud straight down the middle.
  • Spread some hummus on each side, then line with a few leaves of raw spinach.
  • Stuff in some of your broccoli/cauliflower mash.
  • Next, add the beans.
  • And, lastly, stick a few walnuts (about 3 or 4 half or full-sized pieces), right on top.
  • Enjoy as is, or add any of the optional toppings noted above that you might fancy.

Best practice with this, really, is to eyeball the amount of each ingredient going in. This will depend on potato size, your own taste preferences etc. Anything leftover can be used as a “mini” side (like the mash as shown above), with any remaining hummus, for example, being just a nice bit of extra dip!

Copyright © 2017

(Note: recipe original to “the balance brigade”)

The Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet…So Where Does this “(DNA)Fit” In?

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So, I have a interesting story for you guys! Right around Christmas, just before my whole-food plant-based journey began in February, I sent my DNAFit swab away for analysis. I had been wanting to do this test for quite a while, and having spent some time checking out its mostly rave reviews, I was excited to “change the way [I] think about fitness and nutrition forever” (DNAFit). For those of you not in the know, this saliva test is used to uncover your genetic profile, one that is specifically geared up to reveal your body’s own unique response to exercise and diet. To be fair, the reports generated – which I received just after New Year – are super neat. And while they provide you with two healthy volumes on the latter, I feel the third, a one-page overall “state of the union” kind of summary is really all you need to get straight to the heart of your results.

The Lowdown? 

Ok, so while the exercise portion gave some seriously nifty info on my recovery speed, injury risk and power/endurance response (almost 50/50!) for example, I wanted to tell ya’ll about the food situation. As I said, with this reaching my inbox right around the first week of January, I couldn’t have been more hyped about getting a personalized diet plan. Having a post-holiday spare tire to shift, I was desperate to get my hands on what I was sure would be the quickest route to deflation! And hey-ho, with my optimal weight management regimen noted as being “Low-Carb,” I felt assured that science hadn’t failed me. With a reported high ‘Carbohydrate Sensitivity’ and normal (not raised) ‘Cruciferous Vegetable Need’, I was confident in what I had to change. So…no more bread and refined potatoes (ahem, fries!), and definitely no need for an extra broccoli or sprout boost.

Post Deflate-Gate

All set then, right? Well, with human nature being what it is, it took me some time to get back on track, and while in the middle of getting my resolutions in order, I began, as you know, exploring the whole-food plant-based thing. What I hadn’t mentioned in my previous posts, though, was that having finished The China Study, I decided to enroll in, and have now just completed, eCornell’s Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate. And boy-oh-boy, what an incredible education that was! Forgetting all about DNAFit’s recommendations, I instead adopted the high carbohydrate/low fat/low protein model as advised by T. Colin Campbell, and have been doing so, with great effect, for the last couple of months. By great effect I mean, higher energy levels, clearer skin, stronger hair, nails etc., but best of all, is the feeling of being completely satiated after every meal. Yup, all these lovely benefits from a fuel source I was supposed to curb. Granted, I think we all know by now that a close eye should be kept on refined/processed carb intake, but the sky’s the limit as regards whole grains, and as for vegetables – no increase will ever hurt!

I know it definitely hasn’t hurt my scales, with my weight, happy to say, fully recovered from the holiday fall-out. But, back to DNAFit, with their conclusions once again coming to the forefront of my mind this past few days, I was curious to find out if they even suggested a vegan, or whole-food plant-based option to their clients. Turns out, they don’t. Offering only Mediterranean, Low-Carb or Low-Fat plans, a company rep informed me that while their reports do not explicitly cater to herbivores, their separate online meal planning service does allow users to specify dietary preferences, whereby they can then avail of recipes that match their particular needs. Now this inclusiveness is awesome, for sure, but to me, it just stresses the fact that you really are your own best doctor. I say this, as if you aren’t really in the nutritional know – like me, round about 3 months ago – I think a person might be more inclined to unquestioningly accept the advice as emailed, especially if you’re in the midst of a battle with the scales!

Our “Made to Measure” Obsession

But, don’t get me wrong here, this is in no way a criticism, just an observation based on my own experience, and fresh education on the subject. And, with it under my belt, I think it kind of begs a sincere question i.e. why is a whole-food plant-based diet, one that has been proven to be the cure of virtually all ills, not automatically top of the list? My hunch, here, once again comes back to human nature, and that fact that no-one really likes a “one-size-fits-all,” simple, solution. Fancying ourselves as “one-off’s” that require a tailored fix, we are reluctant to accept the fact that as much as our DNA is wholly different, we are, at base, tantamount to the same. Anyway, each to their own – at the end of the day the DNAFit experience was fun, and informative in many ways. Yet, on reflection, I’m grateful that in the meantime I happened to stumble upon the Center for Nutrition Studies – and I can tell you, with utmost sincerity, that it was this adventure that truly allowed me to “change the way [I] think about fitness and nutrition forever”.

Copyright © 2017