Monday, December 10, 2012

Scenes from the Weekend: Studying, Brain Food, Pie.

My whole weekend has consisted of studying, eating brain food, and baking a vegan pecan pie. Friday-Monday. Study, study, study.

My test is Tuesday and I have to pass it in order to be able to graduate. I took a similar test called the CASHEE when I still lived in California and passed both the English and Math with flying colors. I actually almost got a perfect score in Math, which surprised me considering math has always been my weak subject.

I took the Indiana exit exams a few months ago but I failed my math.. by only five points! Frustrating. It wasn’t a shocker though, I didn’t get to study for it like I got to with the CASHEE. They just randomly gave it to me without warning.
So since I’ve been pushing my brain to remember things, and work a lil’ harder than normal. I’ve been eating foods that are supposed to help stimulate the brain.

Coffee: We’ve all been there.. “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” I know I’ve said those words countless times without a second thought. When my grandmother, says “Good Morning” to me when I have just woken up.. I’ve caught myself responding to her by just saying, “Coffee.” That’s “good morning” in my language if I haven’t gotten my dose yet. Coffee helps me focus and gives me that morning boost I need in order to make it through the rest of the day.

Blueberries: Blueberries improve learning and motor skills. They are filled with antioxidants and a variety of essential vitamins for mental health. Blueberries top the brainy fruit chart and luckily are my favorite fruit! I added some frozen blueberries to vanilla soy yogurt during a couple study sessions.

 Tofu Scramble with Avocado: You non-vegans may be wondering.. what the heck is Tofu Scramble? Well, it’s actually very simple. Tofu Scramble is just scrambled up firm tofu that you cook on the skillet with vegetables of your choice. It’s a favorite of mine, especially when I have avocado on hand. I love topping off my scramble with a full avocado. Avocado is full of monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow. “And healthy blood flow means a healthy brain.” I know people suggest to only eat 1/4-1/2 of an avocado a day due to the fat content, but I don’t follow that rule. I love avocados, their my favorite. I can’t stop at just eating a quarter or half of one. No way. Besides.. the fat in an avocado isn’t the “bad” saturated, trans fat. It’s a healthy fat that’s beneficial for you. Why not indulge in something healthy?

A few other brain-boosting foods include: Sprouted/whole grain, nuts/seeds, beans, tea, dark chocolate, ginger, vegetables(brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, kale) fruit(watermelon, cantaloupe, apples.)

 I also enjoyed a few yummy, healthy meals this weekend. Here's a couple that are worth sharing.

Romaine, Broccoli, Tomato, Cucumber, Mushrooms, Olives, Broccoli, Falafel Patty, Jalapeno Hommus. (This is basically my take on "Greek salad".)

Romaine, Yellow Bell Pepper, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Mushrooms, 1/2 Tomato, California Sun-dried Tomatoes, Fat free Balsamic Vinaigrette; Organic Sprouted Quinoa, Organic Dried/Sweetened Cranberries, 1 TBSP Lightly Roasted Almonds.

I love adding quinoa and topping it off with dried cranberries & almonds on a bed of salad. It may sound like a strange combination to some, but trust me, it's amazing!

Homemade Vegan Pecan Pie.
I haven’t had pecan pie in years. My grandmother was going to make one for the family and I last weekend but couldn’t follow through because 1). She lost the recipe she was going to use. 2). The frozen pie crusts she bought had lard in them and since I can’t have lard she decided to postpone making it.
I went to the grocery store with her Saturday and after looking at many different brands of frozen pie crusts with no luck of finding one that wasn’t made with lard.. we finally found one. Marie Calendar’s, I thank you. My grandmother still hadn’t found the recipe she wanted to use and after hearing the horror of having to add 3/4c to 1c of corn syrup, that her cookbooks instructed to add to the filling. I looked online for a recipe that contained no corn syrup. Luckily, I found one. Bryanna’s Vegan Pecan Pie. After reading the reviews, a lady suggested to add a little more brown sugar and vegan margarine to give it a more rich taste since the recipe, I guess, is too light? I went with her suggestion. (I added 3/4c brown sugar, and 2 TBSP more of soy-free vegan butter, and reduced the cane sugar to 1/2c.) Soon after I stuck the pie in the oven. I went on my online calorie calculator to see how many calories this bad boy would contain per slice. My jaw dropped and my anxiety rose. At that moment, I remembered why I haven’t had this type of pie for such a long time. The last time I had pecan pie was when I was around the age of 10-12. Before my eating disorder took full effect. My grandmother had warned me that this pie was going to be very calorific but I wasn’t expecting it to contain 505 calories, 32g of fat, 53 carbs, and 33g of sugar for only 1 slice or 1/8 of the pie! I suffered an intense panic attack at the thought of having to eat a slice. First one, in a very long, that has been food related. Even the thought of only having a bite left me shaking with fear. So unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the pie. I couldn’t bring myself out of my fear to do so. I asked the family to try it for me and give me their opinions.

My grandmother said, “Perfect sweetness, nutty flavor, but lacks that buttery taste that regular pecan pie has. I’ll give it a 10 for being vegan but a 7 overall.” My uncle said, “I’ll give it a 7. It has a good sweetness, good flavor, but lacks consistency. It’s not solid enough, but I’ll give it props for being vegan and tasting good.” My grandfather barely has any teeth but I still let him try out the crust and filling and he gave it a 9 on that alone. (Maybe, later on in the week I'll challenge myself to try at least one bite of the pie. It'll be a good way for me to challenge my eating issue and show it who's boss..)

My grandmother asked me after the sampling if I wanted to go with her to the grocery store so she could get some chips. I agreed and went with her after my panic attack had went away. My grandmother must have felt bad because while we were at the grocery store she told me I could pick out something for myself to have since "I couldn't let myself try the pie." I went straight to the nut butter section and found a new peanut butter that I’ve been looking for!
Anybody who knows me.. knows I love my nut butter. Peanut Butter,White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter,Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Maple Almond Butter, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter.. doesn’t matter. Give me a sample or jar of nut butter and I’ll love you for life. Especially.. if it’s a flavor I’ve never tried before. So you can probably guess my excitement when I found this Planter’s* Banana Granola Nut Peanut Butter. Banana.. Granola.. Nut. I like bananas, I like granola, and I like nuts. This sounded perfect and to add on to my excitement.. it’s vegan! Without a second thought I proudly placed it in my cart. Yes, I “proudly” placed it in my cart. Literally. I was grinning from ear to ear with my head held up high.

Another weekend highlight, I got my elf match for Elf for Heath! I skipped Round 1 but after seeing how much fun everyone was having on Instagram, posting their daily challenges. I couldn’t help but participate for Rounds 2 & 3! Elf for Heath is a program that Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean and Elle have put together. Every two weeks your matched with a “buddy elf” that you talk to regarding the challenges and your there to help them whenever they need inspiration for a certain day’s challenge. Your to take pictures of each challenge that you do everyday and post them on Instagram with the hashtag #elf4heath. This gives you the opportunity to be chosen by Lindsey & Elle for Best Elf and Daily Elf Challenge Winners! Prizes are awarded to the Best Elf at the end of the two weeks and the challenge winners get to be in the running for the grand prize at the end of elf4heath program. This is open to everyone, so if your interested and want to learn more about the program and  how you can join in for round 3, just click here.

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