Fitness, Transitions, Veganism

Setting Big Goals and Making Small Decisions 

I’ve really been enjoying listening to podcasts lately. After my last competition in July, I had been feeling a bit uninspired by music in general at the gym. I tried training without music and it was uncomfortable and not in the way that helps you to improve. At about the same time I was seeing more and more mention of listening to podcasts in my social media feed. So I started with The MFCEO Project with Andy Frisella. I’ve been hooked ever since. I love the way Andy delivers a no nonsense message. He owns his opinion completely, even if it’s controversial. I love listening to inspiring speakers during my training sessions.

So, what does this have to do with goal setting?

That’s something talked about a lot on The MFCEO Project and has really left an impression on me.

The MFCEO Project Podcast

In regards to wanting more (whether with fitness, success, family, etc.), you honestly need to set a big goal. Dream big. Put it out into the universe. Visualize having the things you want.

When you really put that goal out there, making the small decisions every day will be easier because you’ll be able to make those choices with the big goal in mind.

If your goal is to have better health, maybe more specifically to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, then the actions you take every day need to lend themselves to that goal. When you grocery shop, choose foods that are going to help you reach your goal, not sabotage your efforts. Instead of watching anther episode on Netflix, go for a walk around the neighborhood. Choose water over soda. Again, all of your choices should reflect your goals.

As you make these decisions, people will notice and people will make comments. Some supportive, many judgmental.

Who cares what other people think? Those people’s reaction to the changes you are making reflect their level of comfort (or in many cases, discomfort) with themselves.
Who cares if it seems unrealistic? You’ll never know if you can achieve your goals unless you set them big and WORK toward them.

Recipes, Veganism

Beer Macaroni and Cheese

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Okay 2 months. But we’ve been busy! Kyle and I are all moved into our very first home! It’s coming along so nicely.

While I’ve been on hiatus, I stumbled upon a fantastic macaroni and cheese recipe on Pinterest (see the link in the recipe below). I️ loved that it included cashews AND potatoes and carrots. Cashews are a fabulous base for creamy sauces and potatoes and carrots make for the best cheesy sauces. I️ knew when I️ saw all three ingredients that I️ would enjoy this dish.

So,I️ tried it out and wow was I impressed (along with everyone who tried it; dairy-lovers included).

I’ve put my own little spin on that recipe which I think has taken vegan Macaroni and cheese to a whole new level.

Please tag me on instagram if you try this recipe! I’d love to see your version!

@confessionsofaveganmeathead

Beer Macaroni and Cheese

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

A creamy, cheesy, Macaroni and cheese recipe that also happens to be vegan.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) raw, unsalted cashews soaked and drained
  • 1 cup (150 grams) red potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 16oz. Box of pasta (elbows or cavatappi work beautifully in this dish)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cashew milk
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t ground mustard powder
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 1/2 T tapioca starch
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 (6 oz.) of a lager (such as Yuengling)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T vegan butter
  • Optional: breadcrumbs and spray oil

Directions

  1. Soak cashews for 4 hours or more in water.*
  2. Peel and chop the potato and carrot. Add to boiling water for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.* Drain.
  3. While the carrots and potatoes are boiling, add cashews, broth, cashew milk, seasonings, nutritional yeast, tapioca starch, and lemon juice to a blender.
  4. Boil water to cook pasta of choice according to package directions. Drain, but do not rinse pasta.
  5. Add cooked potatoes and carrots to the blender. Blend all ingredients extremely well.
  6. Sauté onion in vegan butter for 3-4 minutes over medium heat in a large pan. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add cheese sauce from blender and beer to the large pan with onions and garlic and whisk constantly over low heat until sauce becomes thick and creamy. It takes a few minutes, but it will thicken.
  8. Pour sauce over cooked pasta and mix well.
  9. Optional: put Macaroni and cheese in a baking dish and coat with breadcrumbs. Spray lightly with spray oil and broil on high for 2-4 minutes, until golden brown.


*
en’t soaked the cashews, you can boil them for 10-15 minutes but that won’t produce as smooth and creamy of a sauce as cashews that have been soaked for 4 or more hours.

*It is critical to not overcook the potatoes. If you do, the sauce will have a more gritty texture. I’ve found adding the chopped potato and carrot to boiling water for 10 minutes to work best.

*This recipe is based on the recipe from VeganHuggs : https://veganhuggs.com/vegan-mac-n-cheese/ .

Fitness, Transitions

How fitness has changed my life… for the better

We all know that exercise is a good thing for us. But how can getting up for that walk our doctors recommend really, truly, and practically impact our lives?

Before I get started, I want you to realize that I’m speaking here from first hand experience. In my short life, I’ve gained and lost over 50 pounds. 


No really. Over 50 pounds. 

Getting into a fitness routine is hard.  When you haven’t been active in a while, the thought of getting up and exerting yourself physically is not appealing. You might feel embarrassed to get out and go for that walk or dare I say it, step foot into the gym. 

Seriously though, don’t be embarrassed. When I see someone in the gym who isn’t in great shape, but they are there and working, all I can think is, ‘Hell yeah! You got this!’

So back to how fitness has changed my life. Below are the top 5 ways my life has changed for the better because of fitness. (Being a very concrete-sequential thinker, I figured the easiest way to outline the changes would be a brief, bulleted list. You’re welcome.)

  1. Strength – I know physically I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and I will continue to develop that. Mentally, I know that I can push myself in all areas of life. When you can go into the gym and push yourself to do a few more reps when your arms feel like falling off, you know that you can literally do anything in any area of your life. 
  2. Confidence – this goes along with strength, but I really do feel more confident than I ever have. Knowing I have this physical and mental  strength makes me confident in my abilities in all other areas of life. 
  3. Energy – I have so much energy! I wake up feeling like a I can conquer the world (most days). 
  4. Sleep – along with having a lot of energy, my sleep has improved immensely. I sleep soundly through the night and on the rare occasion I do wake up in the middle of the night, I’m able to get back to sleep. 
  5. Relationships – I take care of myself first which allows me to care for the people in my life. 

I could go on and on about how exercise has changed my life for the better, but I feel like these areas have been the most profoundly impacted by my exercise routine. 

So go tie up those laces. Go for that walk. Use that gym membership you’ve been paying for. Get some of these benefits in your own life. 

Recipes, Transitions, Veganism

Small changes

This week I decided it’s time to make a few more small changes. Since my show, I’ve been steadily gaining weight which is a good thing. The leanness achieved for the stage is not maintainable. As much as I love the cuts and being able to see the vascularity, I don’t feel healthy and nourished being that lean. 

I’ve gotten to a point in my ‘reverse diet’ where I know I’m at a healthy, maintainable weight. I feel physically strong, especially during my training. Now knowing that, I’m making small changes to be able to keep this weight. 

While thinking about my own small changes, I’ve been talking with family and friends about them making small changes. I’ve kind of had to take a step back. I’m promoting this plant based lifestyle because I know the benefits but I’ve been a bit impatient, especially with my own family.  I’ve forgotten how long it took Kyle and I to get to the point we are at with our diets. I realize that making this change for most people is not quick or simple. 

Making small, consistent changes will leave a lasting impact. 

I want to encourage anyone who is open to it to make small changes toward a plant based diet. But where to start?? Below are my top tips for making small changes toward transitioning to a plant based diet. 

  1. Try one new, completely plant-based recipe each week. As you try new recipes, you’ll find meals that you love (and don’t love) that will push out some of the meat based meals. 
  2. Try replacing milk or coffee creamer with plant based options. I love unsweetened cashew milk and So Delicious French Vanilla Coffee Creamer. 
  3. Stop looking at the nutritional label and start looking at the ingredient list. If  you are going to buy a packaged product, make sure you know what the ingredients actually are. If there is anything you can’t pronounce, you probably shouldn’t eat it. 
  4. Meal prep. Take one day each week to plan what meals you’ll be cooking and prepare anything you can ahead of time on that day. I typically do this on Sunday. I plan out a menu for the week, write a list, grocery shop, wash all of my produce, and prep anything I can to make week night cooking easier. 
  5. Try to use less oil. If you are sautéing vegetables, try sautéing them in water or vegetable broth. It’s not quite the same as using oil, but it gets the job done and you won’t be adding hundreds of extra calories from fat to your diet. 
  6. Try snacking on raw fruits and veggies. If you’ve become accustomed to eating more processed snacks like chips and Little Debbie snacks, it will take some time for your taste buds to adjust. Raw veggies will taste bland because they’re not doused in oil and salt and fruit won’t taste sweet since it’s got natural sugar instead of refined sugar. I promise though, your taste buds will adjust and you’ll come to love unprocessed snacks and you won’t be able to tolerate the chips and Little Debbie’s. 
  7. Drink water, tea, and coffee. But, mostly water. Add a lemon or other fruit to your water if you’re not into the plain taste of water. 

These are just a few of many tips. Like any new habit, transitioning to a plant based diet won’t be easy at first and it will take time. But, making small, consistent changes will leave a lasting impact.