Salads.

I know. Sounds boring, right? The second I mention I’m vegan, that’s all I hear. ‘Oh, so you eat, like, salads?’

Well, yeah. But I also eats LOADS of other stuff.

I just happen to like salads. And so should you! Leafy greens have the highest nutrient density per calorie. We should be eating a large salad every day. Not as a side, but as a meal. That’s the only way to pack in a majority of the micronutrients we need.

In this post I am sharing my two favorites salads, plus another one I just recently tried that adds a nice spin on traditional salads.

First up, this salad is what I like to call the Health My Lifestyle Classic Salad. Or HML Classic Salad for short. It’s my go-to, and I never get tied of it!

HML Classic Salad

HML Classic Salad

Ingredients
1 cup spinach
1-2 cups romaine hearts, chopped
½ cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
½ cup red cabbage, chopped
1 stalk green onion, chopped
4-5 grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup walnuts
Walnut Vinaigrette Dressing

Directions
Toss everything in a large bowl.

HML Classic Salad

Next up is a spin off the classic but with a Mexican twist.

Mexican Salad

Mexican Salad

Ingredients
1 cup spinach
1-2 cups romaine hearts, chopped
½ cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
½ cup red cabbage, chopped
1 stalk green onion, chopped
4-5 grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup spiced black beans
generous dash of garlic powder
generous dash of onion powder
generous dash of cumin
dash of salt
Salsa

Directions
Rinse the black beans and place in a microwavable bowl. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and salt to the beans; stir well. Microwave for 1-2 minutes to warm up the beans. Toss beans and all other ingredients in a large bowl. Add as much salsa as you want, just make sure there is no- or low-added sugars.

Mexican Salad

This next salad was inspired by the Detoxinista’s 2-Ingredient Detox “Spaghetti”

“Pasta” Salad

Ingredients
Half a head of cabbage, chopped
1 cup of pasta sauce
1 cup of mixed vegetables, fresh or frozen
A dash of oregano
A dash of garlic powder
A dash of onion powder

Directions
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the cabbage, pasta sauce, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder, stirring continuously until the cabbage softens; 8-10 minutes. If cooking the mixed vegetables from frozen, place the vegetables in a microwavable bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are steamed through, stirring halfway through for even cooking. If cooking from fresh, steam the vegetables until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Add the steamed vegetables to the saucepan. Stir and serve.

"Pasta" Salad

It doesn’t replace pasta for sure, but it’s nice to have another option!

These salads are supplemental to my FREE meal plan, which is almost ready! It’s full of healthy, delicious recipes, that are affordable! If you’d like to be the first to receive it be sure to sign up for my mailing list below.


xoxo Rachel

Breakfast Hash

Do you love hash browns but can’t seem to enjoy it without a good douse of ketchup? I can’t stand plain hash browns but I also don’t want to fill up on ketchup that’s full of sugar and sodium either. And don’t get me started on all of the oil that the hash browns have added to them. That’s why we created this breakfast hash that doesn’t need anything added. And it’s sooo good!

It’s a fairly simple recipe but filling and full of flavor for the perfect start to your morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. Because let’s be honest–breakfast is good any time of day.

I’m excited to share this recipe with you because it is one of the many awesome ones I’m developing for my FREE meal plan (coming soon). I want to show you how easy it is to live plant-based, how affordable it is, and how undeniably delicious it can be! If you’d like to be the first to receive it, be sure to sign up for my mailing list below!


breakfast hash

Breakfast Hash

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • Water as needed
  • 3 large red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-sodium black beans
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Directions

In a large skillet over medium heat, add water and potatoes, continuously adding 1-2 tbsp of water as needed to ensure potatoes do not stick to the pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until potatoes start to soften. Add everything else except the black beans. Stir frequently and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes. Add black beans and cook for another 4-5 minutes until heated through.

Nutrition Information
Calories per serving 251
Carbs 51.86 g
Fat 0.81 g
Protein 9.94 g
Fiber 11.09 g

High in Folate, B1 (Thiamine), B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium

Breakfast Hash

This started out as a more tradition hash but we added beans to up it’s nutritional content. Even though it doesn’t look like hash browns, it’s even more delicious!

Hope you enjoy it!

xoxo Rachel

Snacks on a Plane

Do you ever feel even more sluggish than usual while traveling? For me, I always went for the quick, easy, not-even-the-slightest-bit-healthy kind of snacks. This included chips, cookies, candies, crackers–you know, the four-C’s. But every time I traveled and ate like this, my digestion was off, I felt bloated, and pretty sure I gained several unwanted pounds.

Nowadays, I still enjoy the salty and sweet snacks but choose healthier options that actually give me energy and don’t weigh me down. Not only that, but I choose items that will keep me full so I don’t end up splurging on expensive airport food.

Last weekend I had a trip from Denver to Kansas City by plane, plus a 4.5 hour car ride after that so I knew I needed some filling snacks to take with me so I didn’t get hangry. Here’s what I decided to bring:

Snacks for travel

First off, let’s talk about the Simply Balanced items. I’m not the type of person to take fresh fruit unless it’s bananas but I knew I wanted something else for added sweetness and variety. Most dried fruit seems to have added sugar but these are literally just mangoes. They are so delicious and a good source of Vitamin C which is a bonus when you’re on a plane with recycled air and slightly dehydrated so that you don’t have to use the plane bathroom. Plus, mangoes are a good source of potassium, vitamin B-6, vitamin A, and fiber!

freeze dried snacks

The edamame was hands-down my favorite snack I brought. Also freeze dried with salty goodness, it was definitely an addictive snack. Yes, I advocate for less salt in the diet, but these were a special treat that I couldn’t resist trying. With 12 grams of protein in a half cup, these were both filling and satiating. A sure winner in my book!

I also brought along Larabars. I try to get the ones that have only dates and nuts as the ingredients but I will say the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is my favorite. It has a few more ingredients but still better than a cookie!

larabars

Lastly, I brought along some salted nuts. What I really should have done was brought some raw, unsalted almonds from the bulk bins at the grocery store but I ran out of time and already had these. In the end I didn’t end up eating any of them because the other snacks were more than enough but I’m glad I over packed food just in case. Again, hanger cautions.

cashews and almonds

And lastly, the bananas didn’t last long. I ate one while waiting for my plane and ate the second between the plane and car ride. I was able to also eat lunch in between so I didn’t need as many snacks as I first thought.

Hope this inspired you to pack some healthier snack options! If you are traveling with others, I highly recommend getting more than one bag of the freeze dried edamame because you won’t want to share 😉

Happy Travels!

xoxo Rachel

P.S. If you never want to miss a post or would like to receive a FREE meal plan (coming soon) full of delicious, healthy recipes that won’t break the bank, sign up for my mailing list below! Thanks for reading!


What Your Cravings Really Mean

I have a HUGE sweet tooth and I know I’m not alone. And sometimes I crave something salty and savory that can’t be ignored. Do I go for the cookies and chips or do I grab the vegan banana ice cream and hearty lentil soup?

Brain Cravings

This is the constant battle that I know a lot of us struggle with. Surprisingly, we can actually CHANGE what we crave.

It all starts in our guts. Our gut flora, or microbiome, contain 100 trillion bacteria. That is such a large amount that you could say we are mostly made up of bacteria. Roughly 90% of the cells in our body are microbial. This gut microbiome digests certain foods and produces certain vitamins and hormones that influence our eating behavior.

The problem is when our microbiome gets out of balance, or dysbiosis. You see, we each have an enterotype–a classification of living organisms based on its bacteriological ecosystem. Our gut is like an ecosystem. Certain bacteria flourish in a specific ecosystem just like certain species are found in the rainforest versus the tundra.

But what determines the ecosystem of our gut? What we eat.

We have a symbiotic relationship with our gut flora. We provide them fiber, and they in turn break it down and provide us different vitamins and nutrients such as butyrate. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that is the main fuel source for the cells that line the inner walls of our intestines. This is critical because they are the only defense between what does and does not get absorbed by our intestines. Leaky gut anyone?

Because of this, it is important to have the right enterotype. Doctors have found that everyone can be classified in to only two enterotypes–Bacteroides and Prevotella. A standard Western diet promotes Bacteroides, and a plant-based diet promotes Prevotella.

Amazingly, there is communication between our brains and our gut. Scientists call this the Gut-Brain Axis. Our intestines are linked to our brain through the vagus nerve, which sends signals in both directions. When the Bacteroides to Prevotella ratio gets too high, we tend to crave the foods that would fuel those bacteria even more.

The Prevotella crave the fiber. They want the whole plant foods. This is good because the fiber they break down in to butyrate not only protects our intestines, but also suppresses inflammation and cancer. Whereas, Bacteriodes produce secondary bile acids which promote cancer. Can you guess what type of diet the Bacteriodes prefer? That’s right, an animal-based diet.

Below is a correlation diagram between long-term dietary patterns and gut microbial enterotypes from this study.

Clustering of gut microbial taxa into enterotypes is associated with long-term diet

Red means a high correlation between that food and the enterotype, or high levels of that bacteria are present when those foods are eaten. Blue means a low correlation or a low presence of that bacteria when those foods are eaten. The darker the color, the higher the correlation.

As you can see, the components mostly found in animal foods, such as cholesterol and animal fat, are associated with Bacteroides and those found almost exclusively in plant foods, such as carbohydrates, are associated with Prevotella.

To rebalance the ratio of Prevotella to Bacteriodes, we need to eat real food. This mean avoiding the processed refined sugars and carbs, animal fats and proteins, and instead eat whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats like avocadoes, nuts, and seeds. These foods are called “prebiotics” because they can stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria.

According to this study, we can change our gut microbiome in a matter of days to weeks. Change your diet, change your gut microbriome. However, every time you take antibiotics, it destroys your good microbiome as well. That is why it’s important to replenish them with good probiotics. This can take months so it’s important to only take antibiotics when you really need them.

In summary, fiber from whole plant foods is required for optimum health. AND I know what you’re thinking–why not just supplement fiber by taking something like Metamucil? Sorry folks, this study determined that fiber supplementation does not replicate the results that one gets on a diet naturally high in fiber.

So, as you make the right food choices, not only will your gut flora improve, but you’ll also start craving the foods that are better for you too! Yes, it takes time, but in the end you’ll feel so much better and *gasp* be indifferent to a cookie.

I’m developing a FREE meal plan that focuses on eating the right foods to promote a healthy gut microbiome. It is full of delicious, easy-to-make, won’t-break-your-budget recipes so make sure to subscribe below so you can be the first to get it!


xoxo Rachel

BONUS FACT

80% of the body’s immune cells reside in the gut. That is why diet is so important when it comes to immune system support. It defines our ability to fight diseases and infections.