Archive for the ‘small steps’ Category

@MochaVegan / Phipps Morning Green Smoothie
part 2 – the history of blending at my house

The other night I did an email post that showed screen shots from My Fitness Pal with the ingredients for my morning smoothie. The long evolution of my diet requires more writing before I break down the recipe.

It is a large jump from a Coke-and-a-slice-of-cold-pizza breakfast to having a green smoothie every morning and no longer drinking Coke or eating pizza. Pizza, by the way, was the largest barrier to being fully plant-based for me. It was the last to go and my daughter still gives me her crust 🙂 My point being there is a way to get there:

Take small steps

I saved for a long time to get my Blendtec. I had originally started with a Bella brand 2 cup capacity machine (similar in size to a nutri-bullet). I used it when I started trying to cook things or make sauces.

I used to get frustrated as I started tracking my food intake with Myfitnesspal.com as I would make something like a four-can chili – I will post a recipe for this – and it would have tons of sodium once I input all of the ingredients.

I started reading labels

I looked closer to discover that the canned tomatoes had enough salt for the whole recipe, so did the fresh salsa, so did the canned beans… No matter what I added from MY pantry, it was loaded with salt.

Slowly start to substitute

I visited a long neglected area of my Fry’s, the produce section. BTW, the only thing I ever bought from there was a bunch of bananas, when requested, or a bag of potatoes at Thanksgiving.

I found that the cheapest tomatoes were Roma at about 99 cents per pound so I used those.
I could fit 2-3 of them at a time in my Bella, run my little noise maker for thirty seconds, pour it in the pot and do it again several times depending on the size of my chili…it was still a little chunky as this machine was more of a high-speed mixer than blender.

Cook your own beans

Buying dried beans is really inexpensive. You can buy them in small bags at the grocery store or in bulk at a Sprouts or Whole Foods (I’ve never been to a Whole Foods). I never realized that beans were so tasty. So the big mystery around beans is that you have these little hard stones and in order to cook them, first soak them overnight. Then you boil and slow cook them on the stove. I love tasting them as they cook and then setting them on the window sill to cool (and continuing to taste them). I cooked them with almost no salt. I am determined that you can salt the product to taste.

Grind nuts for salad dressings

Though tasty, I would have to chew the dressing a little. It was a recurring theme of too small of a container and not powerful enough for the final blended product to be smooth.

Then I met the Vitamix lady at Costco

Picture me in love, googly-eyed, with the machine in her hands. I stood there and watched and sampled creation after creation with my kids. We stayed one night for 90 minutes while my food melted in the cart – until they turned out the lights.

I had a dream

$500 woke me up. Plus the extra pitcher and the better model – I was seriously looking at closer to $700. So I saved up until I had $500 and went into Costco ready to convert my gift cards for the machine of my dreams. Thirty minutes later, I walked away, empty-handed. I couldn’t do it. After a couple other visits I purchased a Ninja system for $119 on sale right before Christmas 2013. It had the small containers like my Bella, a huge blender and a wider bowl.

Sharp blades cut stuff

I get home with my thrifty purchase, which already had the blade in the pitcher, and rinsed it out in preparation for a test drive. When I dumped out the water the blade fell into the sink unexpectedly and I reached to catch whatever was falling and…SLICED MY THUMB OPEN. Now I was bleeding instead of blending…and that stunk. So I started with my Ninja for a few weeks and was able to make green smoothies, but they were more of a liquid salad. The blade system in the Ninja didn’t fully grind up the leaves of the kale or spinach to make it smooth.

After a few weeks my memories of the Vitamix and the urging of my friends that this was the best unit they’d every bought kept bugging me.

I went to a new Costco in early January and there she was, the same Vitamix demonstrator with my machine. I was three weeks into green smoothies now and knew MUCH more than I did the last time we’d been talking. I had her make what I made at home and it was AWESOME. So smooth, so tasty, my kids even drank it!

I decided it was time for the better machine

The next night I went to my Costco to buy the Vitamix. Ha, God sent me there because the Vitamix that I wanted was a demo only model and was at the other Costco 15 miles away. I realized this when I walked in with my son and my head hung low. But I went to see the shelf model. This is when I met the very-well-placed Blendtec lady on the end of the aisle where the blenders are shelved. She offered to make what I was interested in making with greens and fruit and almond milk and it was equally awesome. There wasn’t one of those push sticks, but the blades naturally drew the materials down to them.

She made me feel the blades

Not only don’t the blades come out, but they are not sharp. My engineer-style brain still has trouble understanding how that works, but it does. The red machine that now resides in my laundry room and gets used at least EVERY MORNING was only $300. I have the red model on the left.

World's Best Blender
www.blendtec.com (Go check out their will it blend series on YouTube. Very funny!)

This started as a way to tell about the morning smoothie, but the history of the blending revolution at my house was a story I needed to share.

QUESTIONS FOR YOU

What type of things do YOU put into your favorite smoothie?

If you don’t make your own, what is your favorite smoothie or milkshake that people make for you?

Let me know what you like, I may have a recipe for that or a suggestion for making it a little better.

Thanks for tuning in!

Mark
@MochaVegan

Busy, busy busy. So how can we make use of that time waiting for a child to get out of an activity plus add a little sleep back into our schedule? Piece of cake: blog post by email.

I am assuming that you have a blog set up already and have installed the WordPress plugin. Let’s consider your blog is on your own domain, so your address may be something like http://myblogissoawesome.com (not my site).

Step 1:

Browse to your website and

Log into you account and go to the account dashboard then select Users. It should be at:

http://YOUR_SITE/wp-admin/users.php

You can easily click from your dashboard.

Step 2:

Select edit under your user name (or under the user you would like to be able to post by email). Scroll down until you find enable post by email. There is a button. Click the button and you’ll generate an email address that has a combination of letters and numbers@post.wordpress.com. You can hit the regenerate button until you find one you like or can remember.

Save the posting email address to your contacts on your phone or laptop or both.

Step 3:

Write a thoughtful email while you wait for your morning coffee, sit on the bus or watch the kids play soccer.

Hit send.

That’s it. Be careful with this address or have fun with it. Just remember to be aware of appropriate content if you share this with friends. You can always return to the edit user area of the dashboard and regenerate a different post email address.

Who thinks they may try posting by email? I used to do this years ago on blogger with pictures from my garden. You can always go back and edit content later; it would be a great way outside of Facebook to share something cool!

Try something new today; let me know how it goes.

Mark

What do you think the most unnatural position is for the human body? Think back to how we must have been for thousands of years: gathering food, moving from place to place for new food sources, following a herd of animals…

Sitting. Sitting drives me crazy!! Mornings are nice because I get to shower, make my smoothie and bounce around a bit before the sitting begins. Time to head to work, about 21 miles each way in traffic. In traffic that is 40-60 minutes on your butt just to park and walk inside to assume the position again. (Later I will talk about the positives of that commute, but I am sticking to the complaining for now.) Into your chair. 8-10 hours later with some standing for food and bathroom breaks and it is time to get back in the car and head the other way for a total daily commute and work aggregate of 10-12 hours! HALF of the calendar day firmly parked.

What to do?

For those who can bike commute, that is a great alternative when you don’t have to leave the office that day (need your car). When I ride to work it takes me 80-90 minutes and I am exhilarated, PLUS I get to ride home, too. Can’t do it often but I love it when I can.

If you have to drive, enroll in ‘Drivetime U’. I heard this phrase from Darren Hardy in The Compound Effect. Instead of listening to music or the news, I started by listening to Darren’s book on disc. I probably listened to the thing four times through before I decided to take that advice and began to explore other audio books. I would download Kindle versions and then use audible for the book being read TO me, many times by the author. Podcasts are another great medium to enjoy while driving. I am ready to launch my first podcast in the near future with what I have learned this way.

Your time at work should be focused with scheduled breaks. Ensure you plan on getting up periodically throughout the day. If your office permits, sneak in a few pushups or stretches when you are up to keep the productive juices flowing. It seems that 90 minutes is about the longest you can truly sustain focus, so stay hydrated and that will help force you to take breaks as well!

Find time for a walk or jog either during lunch or walk if you have a long telephone call and the weather cooperates. You might find yourself a lot more cheerful with an outdoor environment.

If none of these things help, you will want to schedule your time for moving your body. I am not saying work out because I want to be clear that moving your body means just that. Move more than is comfortable. If you don’t even walk, try parking a little further from your destination. If you walk, try adding in thirty seconds of jogging. Add in something that stretches your typical effort.

Whatever you decide to do, make it sustainable. Do something that you can easily do every day. If you find it is too challenging, do less. If it is super easy then do more. Remember that the goal is to find balance in your life. Like Sid Garza-Hillman says in his Approaching the Natural Podcast, take small steps. Don’t expect instant results. Small steps, good habits repeated over time will yield surprising results.

What can you add into your routines that will start you on a path towards a happier life?

 

Sunday morning (in just under 8 hours) I get to run my first half marathon as a plant based athlete. Though I haven’t specifically been training for this, I expect to run it faster than I have ever covered the distance before. If not, that is okay, but I feel SO good running on plants that I feel like the sky is the limit, even at age 46.

My first half marathon was the year after my mom died at age 54 from complications related to morbid obesity. That first race at 1:54 or so is my fastest out on a road (treadmill is easier). I cried during that race wishing she could have enjoyed what I was doing. I felt like she was watching from that point around mile eight and finished growing progressively faster each mile. I am going to put on a show for Mom tomorrow.

My wife Lynn, will be running the half tomorrow. She has been training for it and I expect her to be pleased with her results. It is a cool event called the Lost Dutchman. They have a variety of distances. I have done the marathon twice, I think 2006 & 2008, but never the half. It should be low to mid fifties at 7:11 sunrise and the race will be fast and cool.

Think happy thoughts and I will see you all at the finish!

Mark

@mochavegan