Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Simple Roasted Veggies with Vegan Queso just another Monday

It was nice to head back to the gym bright and early this morning. I never get tired of this place. Who said that? LOL

Since my knee is still not 100%, though it did improve after a weekend without cardio, we opted to cut the workout short and call it quits after 45 minutes today. I didn’t want to push my knee too far a risk a relapse since it has improved so much over the weekend.

This morning we were back to oatmeal with mixed frozen berries, cinnamon, powdered ginger, ground flaxseed, and sliced almonds.

Lunch was a bowl of ribolitta leftover from yesterday.

Then it was off to the dentist for me. With all the other doctor appointments lately I have been remiss in getting to the dentist which means extra deep cleaning and scraping for me. Yay! Not really. Good thing I like Regan so much or this would be much more painful. Regan did a great job (without any needles woo hoo) on keeping the discomfort to a minimum. This is coming from someone with a dentist phobia too. I go back to the dentist again Wednesday and then I am finished. Gotta love that right?

After my dental appointment I ran out the library to pick up an exercise DVD I had put on hold and came out with 3 more books and another DVD. Seriously when do I think I am going to find time to read and watch this stuff. *shakes head* Given that I have been too busy to finish all the Christmas decorations up yet I need to have my head examined LOL. I did pick up Ani Phyo’s newest book “Ani’s Raw food Essentials” that I hope to read in the next few days. As soon as I do I will let you know what I think.

When I got home I had a quick snack of an orange and two Brazil nuts. I try to eat two Brazil nuts everyday for the selenium. Most days I remember to eat them though I am better at giving them to Dan than I am eating them myself. I should worry a little more about me. I know that would make Dan happy since he fusses at me about this particular issue often.

By the time I was ready to start dinner it was after 6pm and like usual I had no idea what I was going to make. I had a couple of acorn squash that I could use and today seemed like a good day to get one into the oven given that the cold weather is back again. I decided to roast everything in the oven and make a quick 5 minute sauce to top the veggies. This is one of those dinners that take 10 minutes of work, and some oven time and dinner is on the table. This is more of a method than a recipe but here is what I did:

Simple Roasted Veggies with Vegan Queso
Serves 3 (dinner for both of us last night and leftovers for Dan’s lunch)


1 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed then cut into bite-sized chunks
3 parsnips, sliced reasonably thinly
2 sweet potatoes, cut into bites-sized chunks
2 poblano peppers, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 onion, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
I batch of vegan queso (my numbers assume you used 1/3 of it)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
6 sprigs of fresh cilantro, minced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees convection. Place the veggies on a half sheet pan keeping them in quadrants by veggie to make it easier to remove any that are cooked sooner than others. Bake for 30 minutes and check to make certain the harder veggies (the squash and potatoes) are tender. Mine cooked for approximately 40 minutes.

When the veggies are almost ready, probably at the 30 minute mark, start the vegan queso. I roughly followed the recipe I linked to above except I added nutrition yeast, chili powder and cumin to taste. I wanted this version to be more flavorful since the veggies were plain.

To serve top the roasted veggies with a little sauce and sprinkle with the green onion and cilantro.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 417.56
Calories From Fat (7%) - 30.74

Total Fat - 3.67g
Saturated Fat - 0.66g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 88.54mg
Potassium - 2150.79mg
Total Carbohydrates - 94.78g
Fiber - 20.56g
Sugar - 21.49g
Protein - 8.85g


What I like about meals like this is that they take very little work from the chef. I was literally in the kitchen less than 10 minutes and most of that was watching the sauce to make sure it didn’t stick. This is one of those incredibly easy meals that I turn to often when it is cold outside and I am not much in a mood to cook. This is also good over a bed of whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, or millet).

Typically this is the type of meal that I wouldn’t bother to post in detail because it is so easy. But then I realized that there are many nights other people don’t to fuss in the kitchen either. I think you will find yourself turning to this method often this winter when you just need healthy food fast.

You can vary this dish with any veggies you have on hand. That is how this type of dinner comes together for me. Mushrooms are good in this, so is cauliflower and cherry tomatoes.

Why are the holidays for indulgence?

I am going to start this by saying that I realize what I wrote on this topic goes against the vast majority of Americans. However I think it is important to point out the deleterious health impact of holiday baking.

Staying away from cookies, candy and cake this time of year takes an almost herculean effort. Why do most Americans think the holidays are reason to indulge or worse over indulge? Don’t they understand the impact that sugar has on the immune system? Gee I wonder why there are so many colds during the winter. Between the lack of sunshine (vitamin D) and the sugar coma it isn’t really surprising. Throw in that people aren’t as active when it is cold outside reducing the immune system even more and I think the increase in the incidence in colds makes complete sense.

Don’t get me wrong we used to do the same thing here. I would make a half dozen different flavors of homemade marshmallows frequently chocolate covered to give to friends. But that was before I completely understood the impact of sugar on health. Now that I know better I can’t get on board with the idea of holiday baking. Just because something is a tradition doesn’t make it a good idea. Vegans would be the first one to say Turkey though traditional isn’t necessary for Thanksgiving. Somehow women (vegan or not) have equated the holidays with baked goods. It is as though they think that if they “deprive” their family of baked goods they are being mean. I see it exactly the other way. Most baked goods are nasty unhealthy concoctions to me and I wouldn’t have them in my house.

Which brings me to a question …. What is your opinion of baked good (cookies, cakes, etc.)? Do you feel that you have to make them for your family? If yes I would love to hear why. Is it that you need more information on the detrimental health impact or is it something else?

Happy Thoughts:

It is hard to believe that today is only Tuesday. I feels much later in the week to me than that. I guess it was because our weekend wasn’t as restful as normal. Here are my happy thoughts:

• My dental appointment went well (no needles or pain) and I will be finished with this phase by Wednesday. Yay!

• Tuesday afternoon watched the PBS documentary “Anti Cancer” by the doctor that wrote the book. It was good and follows the book fairly closely. If you are someone that remembers things that they watch and hear better than something you read this would be for you. I picked this up from the library yesterday.  I will include my review soon. I want to watch it twice first.

• I very briefly considered making some vegan cookies to give away during the holidays. Thankfully I came to my senses first. I would feel bad afterwards knowing that something I did for the people that mean the most to me was unhealthy.

Signing out:

That is going to be it for me today. I need to get ready to run to the gym. Since the gym didn’t open until 11am today we decided to go after work rather than work out at home. I hope all of you are having a happy and healthy Tuesday. Talk to you again tomorrow.


  1. Ali,
    Thank you for the Brazil nut reminder. I've put it on the grocery list!

  2. Aimee,

    I almost always put Brazil nuts in Dan's lunch but don't remember them for myself. *shakes head* Glad I could remind you.


  3. Interesting question you pose regarding baked goods. I have a 3-year-old son and while I don't feel that I need to make baked goods for him I do feel it's important that his experience of them not be the blue-sugar-trans-fat concoctions offered at other children's houses. We've introduced him to organic, fair-trade 85 per cent cacao dark chocolate and, on occasion, we order to share some house-made matcha ice-cream at our favorite sake bar or a bitter chocolate tart at an upscale French bistro. My thinking has been that a kid with a sophisticated palate will have little interest in processed sugar and chemicals masquerading as food, while a kid entirely denied sweet treats may come to covet them in a manner that's not at all discerning. One kids' party we went to, the kid whose mother demonizes sweet treats locked himself in the bathroom with the bowl of luridly colored killer-python jellies and refused to come out until he'd eaten them all. Our approach seems to be working well to date. Someone offered my son some cheap, overly sweetened, additive-laden Halloween chocolate. He took a bite, made a face, said "Not good" and handed it back to them.

  4. Heather,

    I like your idea of introducing him to the good stuff so the cheap stuff tastes like what it is. We only have one friend with a young child and she is struggling with the "kids party" landmine now too. I am going to pass your idea on to her. She does the same thing with food. He is the only little one I know personally that loved Indian food at 2 years old and asked to smell the spices.


  5. Two trips to the dentist in one week? Oh no--what is going on? Do you have a cavity or something? I have never had to go to the dentist more than once every 6 months. I hope your teeth are okay :)


  6. Courtney,

    We have had so many other doc appts I haven't been to the dentist like I should have been. That means deep cleaning and yes it isn't fun. But I have no one to blame but myself. By tomorrow I will be good to go again. *rolls eyes at myself* According to Regan it really isn't that bad and he thinks it is because of my healthy diet.

    talk to you later,

  7. Well you already know I like that queso. I never think to make it to use as a sauce. duh. I do pretty good avoiding all the crap because to me it just looks gross. Now if it's something I've made, that another story b/c I know what I put in there. May not be the healthiest thing ever, but SO much healthier than traditional cookie recipes. Thank goodness I don't like chocolate ;-)

  8. Heather,

    I do know you like the queso. ;-) I seem to use it more like cheese sauce than cheese dip these days.

    I have the same thought when I see baked goods. It just doesn't appeal to me anymore. Poor Dan, I don't even think the stuff I make is healthy enough for him. It must be tough to be married to me LOL. Good thing he knows how much I love him.

    I hope you are staying warm this evening,

  9. We thrive on roasted veggies as a quick meal and usually some sort of nut or tofu sauce on top, sometimes tomato sauce with added spices - really depends on the mood.

    I am lucky that I can't really eat many baked goods - chocolate and sugar make me break out and sneeze a lot plus we don't eat wheat, so that eliminates a lot. But when we do indulge we like to do raw desserts during the holidays and for our family too - ie. pumpkin pie with a dried fruit and nut crust or "bliss balls" with dried fruits, nuts, hemp seeds and dates. No added sugars (only sugar would be the fruit sugar), small amount of coconut oil in some cases and no chemicals/processed foods - to me it doesn't seem like an unhealthy treat.

    But to answer your question - generally no and because our family is a bunch of health vegans - there's no expectation of junk food. I do think though that there is such thing as moderation - having a slice of vegan pie once a year isn't enough to kill you, but the problem around the holidays is often with "excessive indulgence" - ie. people eat thousands of calories of baked goods in a single meal. However I believe the whole moderation thing is a very slippery slope. Sorry for the long comment!

    Anyway, good luck at the dentist! and I hope your knee keeps healing.

  10. Possum,

    Roasted veggies are one of my favorites too. I made myself more of them for lunch today. ;-)

    You are lucky that no one expects healthy treats. Dan and I don't even think of them any more. However my parents and our friends still eat the stuff. I decided to ask the question because there seemed to be more baked goods on blogs now than usual which I assumed is due to the holiday.

    Most people seem to have no concept of moderation. I have seen people split a mammoth restaurant dessert and feel good about that like they were practicing moderation. Really? If only they realized just how much fat and sugar where in those desserts. Not to mention they do this every week or more often.

    I read something recently that between 1900 and 2000 the avg annual sugar consumption in the US went from 12 to 175 pounds. No that isn't a typo. Crazy right? I think that says it all.

    I hope you are having a good evening,

  11. My sweet pea definitely loved Indian food at age 2. She's got a great palate. And she's the only kid I know who has been eating broccoli (happily - joyfully) since she could chew. I have mixed feelings about holiday baking. I love the smell. And many of our friends and family expect holiday baking each year from me - most specifically gingerbread men. I don't like to do the baking, though, for a few reasons. Of course, the top of my list is this: how do I convince myself that giving people gifts laden with sugar and fat demonstrates my love? An alternative: dry bean soup mix (home-made). You can attach a little card with suggestions for preparation and hope that the gift recipients will give it a go. It's tasty (hopefully - in the end), it's home-made, and it is free from all the garbage associated with baking.

  12. I hate to admit it, but I must be the unhealthiest person that follows your blog, especially this time of year. I can't seem to break the sweet/chocolate addiction for any length of time. It's such powerful stuff - both physically and mentally - and so hard for me to refuse. Obviously I haven't yet convinced myself that I should never eat it. Nor do I personally know anyone that doesn't indulge, especially around the holidays. It's the cultural norm! But no excuses...please keep reminding me (and others) how awful it is and send us links to pertinent articles/books. Any other tips would be appreciated. I'll be heading to my inlaw's home next week, which will be laden with tons of temptations--luckily, most of them are too junky for even me to desire!


  14. Gloria,

    You said that better than I did. I agree completely. How do people convince themselves that giving people food full of sugar and fat is demonstrating love? It doesn't make sense to me.

    A friend of ours does the "French Market Bean Soup" as gifts and that is really good. I need to link to that on the blog in the next post. Thanks for the reminder.

    It is so encouraging that there are other children being raised on healthy food and not "nuggets" and mac and cheese.

    talk to you later,

  15. Laura,

    I am positive there are many readers that are still eating the traditional holiday baked goods. As I said many times it is a lifestyle change and a process. For most people change doesn't happen overnight. I loved Christina Pirello's idea of changing one bad habit a week. I thought that was brilliant.

    For me baked goods are nothing but toxic. The contain flour (not good), sugar (bad) and fat (worse). They aren't tasty enough to ruin my health and much to my surprise Dan feels the same way now. I remind myself of the impact they have in the body, elevating blood glucose, increasing cholesterol, suppressing the immune system and storing fat. That is usually enought to get me to say no thank you. It took a lot of reading about nutrition to get to the point. But baked good have no appeal now. If it weren't for Dan we wouldn't have anything sweeter than fruit in the house. But I have to compromise a little. He is so good most of the time an occasional treat isn't going to hurt him enough to make a fuss.

    Good luck at your in-laws it sounds like a mine field. I would suggest you take fruit and nuts with you to snack on. Those seem to satisfy my sweet and fat cravings. Also Dan likes it when I take walnut halves and dip them halfway in melted dark chocolate. They are more healthful that you would imagine. I need to blog the details soon so everyone can see. What about spiced nuts? Do you like those?

    talk to you later,

  16. Jhe'anell,

    We didn't start out eating like this either. It takes time to make changes. Try to think of it as a process. I add a lot of dark berries to the oatmeal because they are high in antioxidants. Think of them as the broccoli of the fruit world. Walnuts are highest in omega 3 of all the nuts and help the body to absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the berries. I include one tablespoon of ground flaxseeds in our food everyday for the omega 3. I hope that helped.

    If you every have any quesitons please ask. I am happy to help. Some times I am more rushed that others but I will help if I can.

    have a good Wednesday,

  17. Yep, I bake. If I'm going to bring in something for work (and most of us do this time of year) my rationale is I'll bring something in that I've made because it's healthier than a lot of purchased sutff. Is it healthy? No. But it's better than the store bought cake being served this afternoon.

    My husband and son expect that stuff. I prefer to offer it in moderation and homemade versus store bought. They both can go to the store and buy what they want, so I figure this a better alternative.

    I've tried converting them to how I eat and it was an epic fail. I figure half a loaf is better than none.

  18. Neca,

    Clearly the healthy eaters are in the minority. Most people are like your husband and son. I can't get my parents to give up the stuff either. While I agree homemade is better I don't really think it is tremendously better if that makes any sense. Congratulations on getting your husband and son to do moderation. That is a massive accomplishment! I used to watch people during the holiday's scarf down three or four cookies at a time and then come back for more. Dr. Kessler does seem to be right that people are addicted to sugar, fat and salt. I find it much easier to just avoid the stuff.

    Sorry you can't get your guys to eat like you do. That has to be tough. I am very fortunate that Dan got on board with me. It took a while but now he embraces healthy food.


  19. I once went 6 years without going to the dentist, and they said my teeth were not that bad either. No cavities and just one appt in and out in less than an hour. I have always taken good care of my teeth, but maybe like you say healthy eating has something to do with it too!



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