Monday, July 13, 2015

Feature: Without a Measuring Cup

I hope you're all having a fantastic summer so far! As most of you know, I love to bake, but I absolutely hate cooking. Maybe it's because I live alone and I don't see the point of cooking for one, or maybe it's because I always get hungry halfway through and start eating the ingredients before the meal is done, but either way, I just can't be bothered to cook for myself. Luckily for me, one of my closest friends and fellow bloggers Vanessa of Without a Measuring Cup moved right down the street from me back in April, and she just so happens to be a personal chef!

As a vegetarian who hates cooking, it's really easy for me to make unhealthy food choices when I'm left to my own devices. I'll start the day off on a decent note with a greek yogurt and a piece of fruit, but then it usually goes downhill from there. Since I never bring my own lunch, I often grab whatever to-go vegetarian options I can find near my office, which are usually a wrap or salad of some kind. A lot of them seem healthy but end up being shockingly high calorie and high fat - check out page 6 of this menu to see what I mean. Then when I got home on weeknights, since I never had groceries in my apartment, I would order takeout that was more often than not unhealthy. I noticed that over the winter and early spring, I gained more weight than I would have liked to and always felt bloated after I ate. I wanted to change my eating habits not only so I could look better, but so I could feel better too, and when I mentioned this all to Vanessa, she came up with a plan for me.

Vanessa and I out to dinner together

According to Vanessa, I was making three common mistakes when it came to choosing my meals: I wasn't eating enough foods that were fresh and nutritious; I wasn't eating enough protein as a vegetarian but was eating too much dairy; and I wasn't controlling my portions well enough. Vanessa worked with me to come up with my own customized weekly meal plan for breakfasts and lunches, Mondays through Fridays. Since I have zero "chefing" experience and don't do well with complicated meals, we decided to make all of my breakfast and lunch options delicious yet simple enough for me to bring and assemble or re-heat at work. Breakfast is usually some type of smoothie that's packed with protein but also tastes great and/or an egg dish that I can eat at my desk. My lunches vary, but ALL of them include ingredients that I like and work with Vanessa to select, including mini "pizzas," quinoa salads, egg white & veggie scrambles, spiralized cucumber "pasta," and the stuffed pepper you'll see the recipe below.

one of my favorite WAMC breakfasts: a spinach, avocado, pineapple and protein powder smoothie with a hard boiled egg

I was a bit hesitant on day one of the WAMC meal plan: all of this stuff will be too "healthy" for me and I won't be eating enough of the stuff I really love. Also, how could I possibly feel full after one of these meals that doesn't include a whole bunch of carbs and cheese?! ;) But I quickly learned just how wrong I was. All of the meals are tasty AND filling, and by eliminating all of the excess dairy and carbs I had been eating, I quickly stopped feeling bloated after each meal and have lost 7 pounds over the past month! I feel so much better about my body, both inside and out, and am making much smarter food choices on my own for dinners and weekends. I'm starting to crave healthier, fresher food than I ever had in the past, and was actually happy with my bikini body when I went to the beach this past Saturday! Three cheers for that!

an easy lunch to make at work: mini pizzas on whole wheat naan bread with tomato sauce, mozzarella, arugula and some hidden mushrooms and peppers. :)

If you live in the Boston area and want to change your eating habits for the better, I HIGHLY recommend contacting Vanessa of WAMC for a consultation. She cooks for all tastes, not just vegetarians, and can work with you on something as simple as creating you a meal plan that you cook on your own time all the way up to coming to your house and cooking 3 meals a day for you, 7 days a week! Today, Vanessa is sharing her quinoa stuffed pepper recipe with us which I hope you'll enjoy!

Quinoa Stuffed Red Peppers
makes one stuffed pepper

what you need...
  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • small portobello mushrooms, about 4-6 sliced
  • fresh thyme and oregano (the leaves of 4 sprigs, minced)
  • a baking sheet and cookie spray
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon goat cheese
what to do...
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook quinoa according to package directions, adding the mushrooms and fresh herbs to the water before cooking.
  3. Add 1 tsp and mix well.
  4. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
  5. Remove core from the pepper.
  6. Rub olive oil on the outside of the pepper.
  7. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper inside the red pepper then stuff with the mushroom quinoa.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes. When done, the exposed quinoa should have a nice crispy texture.

all photos and recipe copyright Vanessa Lantigua of Without a Measuring Cup