School’s in session! Extra long blog with bonus recipes!


September 1, 2012 by theoghartiens

Happy end of summer, friends! School is back in session and I am thankful to have a little more time to work on creating new meals for everyone. With a 3-year-old and 13-year-old in the house, I didn’t have a lot of extra time to shop, prep, and cook food that everyone would eat. As a result, my weight loss slowed down and I started to feel more sluggish. I wasn’t exercising as rigorously, and my general mood was less chipper.  Instead of reaching for fruit when I was low on energy, I’d trudge through the day and end up irritable and tired.

Now that I have the extra time again, I’ve recommitted myself to a high-raw diet. I do indulge in cheese from time to time, but overall, I’m trying to keep my diet dairy-free. I’ve lost a total of 58 pounds since I changed by diet (the end of February, 2012). I have realized that the key to keeping my raw food intake high is to always have raw food on hand – even if I’m just running errands around town. This also cuts down on my tendency to eat out when I’m away from the house. I carry kale chips, grapes or an apple or peaches – something easy and not too messy. I also take food with me when I travel – romaine lettuce, avocado, bell peppers, lemons, fruit, my Yerba Mate tea, and honey. I can make several meals from those ingredients.

First photo: April, 2012
Second photo: August, 2012 (down 55 pounds!)  

The cool thing about increasing the amount of fruits I am eating (besides weight loss and the boost in energy) is that simple recipes can be very satisfying. Fruit salad is now a favorite! What could be more simple than fruit salad?  I’ve also created new dinner salads, like the Vegan taco salad (posted below) and a fruity spinach and romaine salad (previous post), that are healthy and very satisfying. One great tip I have learned along the way: try adding a flavorful salsa to your food instead of meat or cheese – the weight loss is so much quicker without those hard-to-digest foods and you won’t need a nap after eating!

Here are several meat and dairy-free recipes to add to your arsenal of quick and easy vegan meals!

Quinoa-stuffed bell peppers

2 large bell peppers, yellow, red or green (I prefer red and yellow)

1 small bell pepper (any color)

1 small red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp coconut aminos or wheat free Tamari

1 tsp coconut oil, unrefined

8oz can organic tomato sauce (Muir Glen brand is BPA free)

1/4 cup Goji berries (can substitute dried cranberries without sugar)

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1 cup of quinoa (I found sprouted quinoa at Whole Foods and prefer this!)

2 cups vegetable broth

Cut stems off of the large bell peppers and remove seeds and veins. In a medium sized pan, add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Place bell peppers in the water (hole side down) for about 10 minutes. They will steam and soften. Remove from heat and set aside.

While peppers are steaming, prepare stuffing and quinoa. For stuffing: diced small bell pepper and add it to a large pan with coconut oil. Add onion and garlic, then saute for 10 minutes, or until veggies are soft. Add coconut aminos (or Tamari), goji berries and walnuts. Finally, add in tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

For quinoa, add one cup of quinoa and two cups of vegetable broth to a pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and steam for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave pan covered for an additional 5 minutes so quinoa will absorb all of the steam.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir stuffing mixture into the quinoa. Cut the large, pre-steamed bell peppers into halves and top each one with the quinoa mixture. You can top this with Daiya brand “cheese” if you like (my husband likes it with cheese), but they are perfect without cheese as well. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

This dish will freeze well and last for three months if stored in an air-tight container!

Now, I am a hardcore, TexMex loving girl. I can’t go more than a few days without something doused in my favorite salsa from Taco Deli or the amazing ranchera sauce from (my second favorite Mexican food spot in Austin) Mr. Natural. After indulging on the chalupa plate at Mr. Natural several times over the summer, I decided I needed to create my own version. Here is what I came up with!

Vegan black bean taco salad

Not a fan of beans? Maybe you should reconsider! I was not eating many beans at all until I realized it I could get a large serving of protein and very little fat if I added them to my meals. According to, a cup of cooked black beans provides 227 calories, 15 g  of protein, 1 g of total fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol, 41 g of  carbohydrate and 15 g of fiber.  One cup of black beans also provides 20 percent of the daily value,  or general recommended amount for adults, for iron and 5 percent of the daily  value for calcium. Black beans provide significant amounts of the minerals  magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, and the B vitamins thiamin and folate, or  folic acid. I’m convinced to use them more often in my recipes.


1 can organic black beans

1/2 onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, skin removed and smashed

1/4 bell pepper, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1 handful cilantro, minced

Olive oil

1 large avocado, diced

1 large tomato, seeded and diced

1 package alfalfa sprouts (optional)

1 bag organic mixed greens salad

Organic blue corn chips (or your favorite brand)

Your favorite salsa

Combine onions, garlic and bell pepper with olive oil in a large pan. Add spices and saute until soft. Turn down heat and add black beans. Let simmer for 5 minutes, then add cilantro (reserve a small amount to use for salad topping). Remove from heat and process in food processor (or mash by hand) until smooth.

For each serving, add blue corn chips to a bowl. Cover with a large spoonful of black beans. You may add cheese if you like – my husband and kids like Monterrey jack. Add a large handful of mixed greens, then top with sprouts, tomato, diced avocado and finally your favorite salsa or pico. This is SO flavorful and filling! Please give it a try and let me know what you think!

Last on our list of awesome recipes is the fruit salad. You can make your own version of this salad using any kind of fruit you like! I happened to stumble upon a “$1 bin” at my favorite natural food store, Natural Grocers, and bought several bruised peaches and plums. When I got home, I removed the bruised layer and used the rest in my fruit salad!

Minty fruit salad


2 peaches, diced

2 plums, diced

1 banana, sliced

1 green apple, cored and cubed

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

2 kiwis, sliced

1/2 cup red grapes

1 tablespoon raw honey

1 handful mint, minced

1 handful walnut or pecan pieces (optional)

Combine all of the fruit with honey, mint and nuts. Gently toss to coat, then cover and refrigerate for one hour. Serve chilled and enjoy!

I hope you’ll take the time to prepare some of these recipes. Enjoy the last days of summer, my friends!

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3 thoughts on “School’s in session! Extra long blog with bonus recipes!

  1. Yes Yes Yes!!!! I love all three of your recipes here and your words are so inspiring for anyone who wants to take their health and body image to the next level 😉
    So happy to have ‘met’ you ~ just sorry it took me a while to visit you – today is my girl’s back to school day – so that could be the reason why I have a little extra time to finally visit some blog friends ;D xoxo
    Thanks for linking up to the Potluck Party ;D xo

  2. ps. You look so great!!! Very Very happy for you and congrats on this amazing journey ;D ♥

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Honest Toddler

juice, crackers. tv.

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