Our idea of what constitutes "food" in American culture has become so skewed that it is almost unrecognizable. Our supermarkets are packed with products whose ingredients include unpronounceable chemicals, dyes, bacteria, and growth hormones. They are irradiated without our consent and contain GMOs.It's time to bring back FOOD. Pure unadulterated organic RAW food.This blog is a documentation of my continuing journey on a plant-based lifestyle.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Transition Me: High Carb Low Fat Cooked Vegan Meals for The Frugal Eater

So, on this blog, I talk A LOT about fruit and raw food in general. My name is, after all, RAW food nerd. However, I am well aware that such a lifestyle is not for everyone, nor does everyone desire to be 100% raw. For some, eating fully raw is cost prohibitive or they simply desire to merely only incorporate more raw food or even just add more plant-based foods overall.

Today, I would like to address those issues by sharing one of my favorite simple, healthy, high carb low fat vegan meals that you can incorporate into your diet as you transition to a healthier lifestyle! Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing more of these types of recipes, because I think it's important for people to see that you really don't have to give up EVERYTHING just to be healthy. All meals are budget-friendly and great if you are short on time because everything can be made the night before or left in your steamer/crock pot to be ready when you get home!

My top most cost effective starches that I recommend as a way to transition to a more plant-based or vegan lifestyle: (unlimited)
  • Potatoes 
  • Rice 
  • Corn 
  • Gluten-free pastas (corn/brown rice pasta) 
My first easy transition meal is for baked french fries with homemade salt-free, refined sugar-free, and vinegar-free ketchup. Say what? Healthy fries? Hell yeah!! 

Crispy, no-oil French Fries straight out of the oven are a match made in foodie heaven with this tangy, salty, and slightly sweet homemade Ketchup! Eat as much as you desire without feeling the slightest bit of guilt!

For the French Fries: 
Serves 1-2 people
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees 

2-3 lbs of organic potatoes that have been cut in strips and partially steamed for about 15-20/25 mins. -- they should still be firm, but soft enough that you are able to slide a knife in and out cleanly
 (I have found that golden yellow potatoes hold up really well and I generally just cut these in half or thirds, but russets will work just as well too. Sweet potato is excellent as well!) 
1 sheet of parchment paper cut to fit your baking sheet 
Once your potatoes are done steaming, let them cool, and then place them on your baking sheet. 

Season as desired: a dash of black pepper and some chopped fresh rosemary is my favorite combination! 
Bake in the oven until golden brown 

For the Homemade Ketchup:
1 small can of salt-free, Organic tomato paste 
onion powder 
garlic powder 
black pepper
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon of coconut sugar
1 cup of filtered water

In a mixing bowl combine your tomato paste, molasses, and coconut sugar gradually adding your filtered water to thin out the mixture. You may need to add more then 1 cup of water depending on how thin or thick you want the ketchup to be. 
Mix until the ingredients have fully come together, and you have a smooth, silky consistency. 
Next, add in your spices. I start with 2-3 shakes of onion and garlic powder and a small pinch of black pepper. Then I taste and adjust as needed. 

Chef tip: Don't get hung up on exact amounts when it comes to seasoning in recipes. Everyone's taste preferences are different, so don't worry if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of pepper, but you feel like half a teaspoon is enough for you. 

As with most sauce/condiment recipes the longer they sit the better and more flavorful they become, so feel free to make a big batch of this and let it sit in your fridge until you are ready to use it! Just make sure to pull it out 30 minutes before you are going to eat and perhaps add a little more water if necessary to thin it out. 

You can even steam your potatoes ahead of time and leave them in the fridge until you are ready to bake them which makes this meal not only super affordable for anyone on a budget, but also incredibly simple for those who are busy and just want quick, easy meals. 

Pair this with a nice big salad and you have a satisfying, nutritious, high carb plant-based meal that will GIVE you energy and not weigh you down! 
I know I was guilty of this for a long time, but I was convinced that potatoes (specifically) were going to make me fat. They were carb-laden starches after all and I was positive that one bite and I would surely bust a gut turning me obese overnight. Instead, I stuffed my face with bacon, cheese, sausage, steaks, and more cheese. Hmmm...

The notion that starches (or fruit for that matter) make you fat is incredibly FALSE. In fact, it's a blatant lie. One that is pushed by the diet industry, specifically those advocating for high protein, low carb diets like the Atkins and Paleo diets. These are the same people that also say that fruit makes you obese and eating more than one slice of melon a day is "dangerous." Not very credible when you consider that fact that they advocate eating the majority of your calories from animal products, which any MD will tell you is the reverse of what you should be doing if you want to ward off heart disease at the very least! (If you want to learn more about the connection between high protein diets and disease please read Colin T. Campbell's books Whole, The China Study, and/or The Low-Carb Fraud)

And just in case you still don't believe me I'm going to drop some quality info bombs from Dr. John McDougall, MD and author of The Starch Solution:

"A widely held myth holds that sugars in starches are readily converted into fat, which is then stored visibly in our abdomen, hips, and buttocks. If you read the published research, you will see that there is no disagreement about this whatsoever among scientists, and that they say that THIS IS INCORRECT! After eating, we break down the complex carbohydrates in starchy foods into simple sugars. These sugars are absorbed into the bloodstream, where they are transported to trillions of cells throughout the body for energy. if you eat more carbohydrates than your body needs, you'll store up to 2 lbs of it invisibly in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. If you eat more carbohydrates than you can use (as your daily energy) and store (as glycogen), you'll burn the remainder off as body heat and through physical movement other than sports, such as walking to work, typing, yard work, and fidgeting.

Turning sugars into fats is a process called de novo lipogensis. Pigs and cows use this process to convert carbohydrates from grains and grasses into calorie-dense fats. That's what makes them so appealing as a food source. Bees do it, too, converting honey (simple carbohydrate) into wax (fatty acids and alcohols).

We humans, on the other hand, are very inefficient at converting carbohydrate to fat: we don't do it under normal conditions. (The cost for this conversion is 30 percent of calories consumed.)  Subjects overfed large amounts of simple sugars under experimental lab rotary conditions, however, will convert a small amount of carbohydrate to fat. For example, both trim and obese women fed 50 percent more calories than they usually ate in a day, along with an extra 3 1/2 ounces (135 grams) of refined sugar, produced less than 4 grams of fat daily (less than 1/8 ounce). That's just 36 extra calories stored as fat per day. You'd have to overeat all of those extra calories and table sugar every day for nearly 4 months just to gain ONE pound of extra body fat." (Pages 112-116)

(Personal interjection: Water-weight from eating high sodium foods as well as eating cooked food and not drinking enough water throughout the day can and will manifest as what looks and feels like fat or weight gain. It's kind of like a David Copperfield illusion in that respect; it feels like it's there, but ultimately, it really isn't. Proper hydration is just as important as what you are and aren't eating!)

"The warning about carbohydrate turning to body fat is a myth and nothing more: In humans, even substantial quantities of refined and processed carbohydrates contribute only a trivial amount to body fat.

The same is not true of animal and vegetable fats, however. ... Fat is the Metabolic Dollar Saved for the Next Famine. After you eat dairy, meat, nuts, oils, and other high-fat foods, you absorb their fat from your intestine into the bloodstream. From there, it is transported to billions of adipose (fat) called for storage...The fat you eat is the fat you wear." (Pages 120-121)

(Dr. McDougall references several clinical studies in footnotes throughout these paragraphs which you can see for yourself in his book, as I have listed the pages for you.)

So why do people think starches make them fat? Well, the answer is simple really: because they cover those starches in FAT. It's not often where you see someone digging into a plain potato or french fries that haven't been fried not only in oil, but often oil plus animal fat. Corn with no butter? WHATTT?!
No, it's covered in butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, what have you.

This is not to say that ALL fat is bad or that fat is evil and you should avoid it at all costs. Fat is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle, but HIGH quantities of fat coming from animal sources are what cause people to run into problems. The type of fats you choose to eat are important and overall fat consumption should not exceed 15% (This does not apply to children or pregnant women who require more fat for brain development). The average person typically averages around 42% fat, including vegans and gourmet raw vegans eating lots of nut-based foods and 'cold-pressed oils!'

Here are some healthy fats that are excellent to eat in moderation:
  • Avocados 
  • Young Thai Coconut Meat 
  • Durian 
  • Hemp seeds 
  • Tahini, Sesame Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Fresh cracked nuts (Nuts, in my opinion should be kept to a minimum. Once out of the shell they spoil easily, are lower in water content compared to fruity-fats like avos, coco meat, and durian -- and they are particularly difficult on digestion. They are perfectly suitable to eat in small quantities, but not something you should be consuming in large amounts on a daily basis. And if you do, it should be with greens in your salad as part of the last meal of the day as long as you are not eating cooked food during that meal. They should never be combined with fruits if you want to have effortless, smooth digestion!) 
The number one point you should take away from this post (other than my bombin' french fry recipe!) is that you shouldn't be afraid of carbohydrates and you should NEVER deprive or restrict your calories from them. Carbohydrates produce lean, healthy bodies that are full of energy and free of disease!

Don't forget to check out the new website, www.positivelyplantpowered.com where you can sign up for my email and Skype coaching packages, meal plans, and follow my Facebook page for daily updates!

Have a great day guys!