Falafel Salad with Tzatziki Dressing

A lot of the time new recipes are born of my die-hard desire to not waste any food in my home. Looking in the fridge I noticed there was some Tzatziki dressing that was going to go off ~ chickpeas to the rescue.

This recipe is simple, though not too quick if you’re in a rush but if you prep the whole recipe you’ll have leftovers you can freeze and use easily any time.

Going out for food is absolutely impossible during prep, these made the cut and didn’t equal a cheat because I re-arranged my Macros for the day to accommodate.

You must try this one.

Ingredients:

Falafel

2 cans of chickpeas

1 medium yellow onion chopped

4 large cloves of garlic diced

1 large dried chili pepper (or chili pepper flakes)

2 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp corriander

1 tsp parsley flakes

1 tsp celery seeds

1 tsp salt

1 cup spelt flour

Water as needed to thin mixture

Dressing: 

1/2 cup vegan sour cream

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup chopped dill

Juice of 1 large lemon

1 large clove of garlic

** Place all ingredients in small vessel and using hand blender mix until creamy and smooth**

Salad: 

Cucumber, Kale, Spinach, Peas, tomato – you name it! I keep a big clean bowl of ready-to-eat mixed greens in the fridge that work well with every style of salad.

Method: 

Combine all ingredients in bowl and use hand mixer or food processor to mix well.

“Raw” Ingredients

I liked this a little more on the watery side to ensure they cooked a little more quickly.

Pre-heat a cast iron pan to medium heat and coat lightly with coconut or olive oil. (You can use a non-stick pan if you don’t have cast iron). We are not looking to use oil to deep fry in any way, only to keep the falafels from sticking! I used a small ice cream scoop to set the mix into the pan, this made them about golf ball sized or a little smaller.

Cook over medium heat for approximately 4-5 minutes per side. The ingredients will firm up in the same way as a pancake, where you can see them starting to cook through the middle (from the bottom) and will know it is time to flip.


Don’t over cook these as they can turn into little hockey pucks quite easily, so patience is best when you’re working with this one.

Dress your salad with the falafels, add hot sauce, dressing and top with diced tomato and cucumber.

Enjoy! – Serves 8 (at least) or two plus a tonne of leftovers!

Nutrition Information Falafels: 

Nutrition Facts
Servings 8.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 158
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3 g 4 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 1 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 254 mg 11 %
Potassium 211 mg 6 %
Total Carbohydrate 26 g 9 %
Dietary Fiber 6 g 25 %
Sugars 1 g
Protein 7 g 14 %
Vitamin A 2 %
Vitamin C 4 %
Calcium 6 %
Iron 17 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Nutritional Information Tzatziki Dressing: 

Nutrition Facts
Servings 8.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 57
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6 g 8 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 4 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 41 mg 2 %
Potassium 24 mg 1 %
Total Carbohydrate 2 g 1 %
Dietary Fiber 0 g 1 %
Sugars 0 g
Protein 0 g 1 %
Vitamin A 2 %
Vitamin C 6 %
Calcium 1 %
Iron 1 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

BECOMING LITTLE MISS BIKINI – EPISODE 2– Chasing Trainers…or how to properly flatten your face on the pavement.

A lonely journey so far.

A lonely journey so far.

Let me tell you that so far, this has been the most upsetting part of getting the show on the road so to speak.

With just about 20 weeks before the first show I chose OCTOBER 24TH IN Edmonton I really needed to find a good coach.

What I didn’t know is that you can be coached from a distance or in person. What’s more is that the pricing can be cheap, fair or out of control…..being in Alberta means that most of it was the latter.

I started googling for coaching which landed me in a bunch of various areas. Right away I knew I could eliminate anyone who had no experience with Vegans or Vegetarians.

I even attempted to purchase a meal plan beforehand from Morelli Fit – oh this fellow has a real racket going. I’ve tried on several occasions to let them know that Chicken, Beef and Bacon are not vegetarian…..they basically told me to go pound sand up my @**.

I started doing some heavy research. I received replies from a couple of online coaches who got about half way through speaking with me, getting intake forms and then just fell off the face of the planet. This actually happened 3 times. A bit crushing really when you’re so jazzed about something.

I managed to find what I thought were some reputable coaches in town and went to meet with them – this is how it went:

Fail #1: I showed up at a commercial fitness facility downtown. I used to be a member and quit for a lot of reasons but mostly that I have my own gym at home and theirs kind of sucked. This one REALLY sucked.

He had me take off my socks and shoes and get onto a body fat calculating machine, then change into my bikini to take some shots of my current state.

I changed back into my clothes and we sat down to talk. I had to lose 10 pounds and at least 10 percent body fat. I tried asking a few questions related to goal setting but was kind of shrugged off like “don’t worry about this now, we’ll talk about it later” probably because it was a FREE consult.

I was then ushered into a sales room where I was basically told that I would be training three days per week at that gym minimum and needed to buy a membership for the next 6 months. Long story short this would be $800 per month…without meal planning because they didn’t know how to service a vegan/vegetarian.

To add insult to injury I was told that ” the best way to get off your butt is to sign up today”. Wow. I had to lash out and state that I work out every day and getting off of my butt was not a concern. What a bunch of dicks.

Needless to say, I did not go with him!

The next fellow I met with seemed a bit more into it……

Fail #2: I went to this coaches private gym where he coached/coaches hockey players (NHL) and the like. He seemed excited and I thought that it was legit.

We had a great talk, then quickly went through some of his techniques with a few small weights. I felt relieved. Finally, someone on home soil with experience in getting girls to shows and placing AND he was comfortable with training vegans/vegetarians.

$80/hour and after a few sessions I could train wherever, whenever I wanted to and his style had girls placing top five in the last few weeks!

He was laid back as well, but I was assured all would come together and was shown who they use for photographers, bikinis, tans etc….I provided him with a sample of my regular diet for a week and he asked me to take my own pictures of myself….not even to send them to him.

Well, three weeks passed. In that time he forgot to contact me, did one workout with me, went out of town and told me to just “keep doing what I was doing”……what if I was just eating ice cream cakes and rolling on the floor??!!!

Crushed and 2 weeks out from any sort of reasonable 12 week training deadline, I started over.

As an added footnote, I received a text message from this guy who went AWOL that said:

“I’m back in town if U want to book any sessions”.

WTF?!?! Are YOU supposed to be bringing a coaching program to ME to achieve MY goal of getting to a show this fall??? I think that my jaw will forever remain on the floor.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

When I spoke to  my HSE contractor Tahnee who told me about all of this stuff to begin with she gave me a few more contacts, I also just started looking for vegan bodybuilding athletes and came across one. Andrea Guzman. 

Not only did she answer my email in a couple of hours, she referred me to her coach who trained her (vegan) to competition she was enthusiastic and welcomed questions. She’s a personal trainer herself and didn’t once try to up-sell me on her services.

Finally rolls in Jennifer Weintz.…a god send really. Did I mention, these two gals are in BC? Well, I probably don’t have to with the happy and quick responses I received, you could guess in an instant.

Jennifer offered for under $200 month to coach me. Plan my workouts, diet AND take regular updated/pictures for review and re-structure on my progress. She also has the ability to refer me to whomever I need: tanning, hair, bikini to get to competition prepared.

I am starting up at the end of this week and am excited to start learning and seeing results. I am also excited to tell you all more about how to navigate this maze! I asked my husband, Jeff, if he would mind helping me through the process and of course he said he would. Finally, support in all areas – I feel like a rocket ship ready to take off!

Looking at athletes on Instagram and Facebook and contacting them elicited the most progress. I recommend this approach to newbs. If you are already lifting, you will know most of the basics and they can help.

I am sitting in a bit of a no mans land right now in terms of waiting to start BUT I have a great feeling – this new coach even dropped me a line from her vacation!

My questions to date that still need answering: what will the 4 months look like, what is the process really all about, will I have a program that will be changed up, what do I need to report to you. How is my diet so far? Will I be eating more or less?

Becoming Little Miss Bikini – Episode 1 – Where to start?

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My intention with this post was to give anyone looking for some insight into doing your first competition a really clear picture of what it could look like for you from start to finish. I hope that I can do this for you. And lets face it, I’m adding some serious pressure on myself when I go public with my plans.

I start my journey in Calgary Alberta where there really isn’t a heckuva lot to do in the City but the Foothills of the Rockies boast some of the best skiing and hiking on the planet. Luckily for me, I live in an acreage in the foothills  with my devastatingly handsome partner Jeff, our 3 dogs and my step-daughter Anastacia. We spent all winter building ourselves an amazing gym at home that has everything a person could need including an infrared sauna and hot tub for recovery!

As a semi-pro dancer with decades of athleticism under my belt I thought I would try my hand at some kind of fitness competition. After about a year of dedicated training and eventually committed weight lifting regime I decided that I would put my best foot forward and go for it. But where to start?

As luck would have it, a health and safety consultant of ours had been to competition before so I picked her brain about the situation. I knew that I definitely had my work cut out for me in trying to find a local, qualified trainer who could also help me with Vegan/Vegetarian nutrition to achieve the goals that I wanted.

What I learned: 

I needed to buy some meal prep containers. I bought these ones however, the lids aren’t as fantastic as I would like but they are sturdy and can be re-used several times and are about as cost effective and environmentally friendly as you can get in the realm of plastic.

Find a food scale. This is the best one I could research and it works well.

I needed to keep track of what I was doing currently. I used this app in the past and it’s working well for me now. You can print out your daily logs and send them to your coach when asked.

Find a trainer – this is coming in Episode 2 “Tail Chasing and Boiling Blood”…or something like that.

Find some show dates. I picked all natural and drug free competitions. I don’t like the use of steroids or other things that some folks use. That being said, you could go to those shows and just NOT do the drugs, but your chances of placing/winning would be lower.

Find some literature that I could trust and learn from. I bought this online book which is perfect for Vegans and Vegetarians alike.

Here are some links:

NPAA

INBF

IDFA

WBFF

Work my ass off (below). While I exercise daily, I by no means limit my food or alcohol so I’m basically maintaining what you see below. Not the prettiest sight however, at nearly 37 I’m alright with it. This is my “starting” image….hideous bikini, day 2 of my period, earlier in the morning than I’d like to be up.

   

Look out for my next post coming soon….this will get into HOW I found a trainer and all the BS that I had to go through to do it. Get googling, ask me questions and most of all – do your research! I’m blogging all of this so that you can skip the pain that I have gone through to get to the good stuff.

Lovely latkes

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A spin-off of my original Latkes, these sweet potato bad girls really hit the spot. I found that the sweet potatoes added a little extra “something” to the mix and they stayed a little more together/dry than their regular potato brethren.

Ingredients:
3-4 yams
1 large yellow onion
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 small tbsp of ground flaxseed
3 diced chives
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Olive or coconut oil for cooking
Method:
Heat oil in frying pan to medium-high.
Using the smaller measurement on a hand grater, grate peeled yams and onion into a bowl. Drain out any excess liquid. As these are not regular potatoes you may not have much in the way of liquid.
Mix in flax-seed, cumin & chilli powder.
Form into miniature patties no more than 3/4 of a cm in thickness.
Fry in hot oil until both sides are browned. Removed from heat and place on top of paper towel to remove excess oils.
Top with a sprinkling of chives and a dollop of sour cream/vegan sour cream to liven things up a bit.

Pickled carrot and daikon

 

Pickled radish & carrot

Pickled radish & carrot

This recipe is a good one for keeping some of this yummy deliciousness around all year. The end product should store well for a year or so in a closed mason jar in your fridge. You can use this for soups, salads and dressings to zip it up a notch.

I have used this in my Bahn Mi recipe as well as hot and sour soup and asian salads.

Ingredients:

5 carrots

1 large daikon

1.5 cups white vinegar

2 tbsp agave nectar

1 cup warm water

Method:

Julienne or grate carrot and daikon into bowl. Mix in all wet ingredients and let stand at least one hour before use.

Banana Pancakes – vegan

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What to make for breakfast with a house full of people and nothing in the cupboards? Vegan banana pancakes of course. Silly. Add this recipe to your repertoire for a delish and healthy breakfast for the masses.

 

Ingredients: 

6-8 VERY ripe bananas

1 tbsp vanilla extract – try my homemade recipe!

2.5 cups unbleached organic flour – swap for spelt flour if you’re gluten free

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2.5 cups almond/nut milk

4 tbsp unrefined organic sugar

Avocado oil/coconut oil for pan

Method: 

Mash bananas in bowl set aside 2 for garnish. Blend with milk, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix all ingredients together until smooth.

You can play with the consistency of your pancakes here. I like them a little more thick so if they are too thin, I just add a bit more flour. Be fearless, pancakes cannot be screwed up. Promise.

(But if you do screw them up..let me know)

Pour into a cast iron pan coated with coconut or avocado oil, heated to medium heat. Cook until bubbles appear then flip. Cook to a golden colour.

Serve with sliced banana and organic REAL maple syrup

Serves 6

Quick health facts: 

If you think bananas are just for monkeys, think again.

  1. Bananas help overcome depression due to high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin — the happy-mood brain neurotransmitter.
  2. Eat two bananas before a strenuous workout to pack an energy punch and sustain your blood sugar.
  3. Protect against muscle cramps during workouts and nighttime leg cramps by eating a banana.
  4. Counteract calcium loss during urination and build strong bones by supplementing with a banana.
  5. Improve your mood and reduce PMS symptoms by eating a banana, which regulates blood sugar and produces stress-relieving relaxation.
  6. Bananas reduce swelling, protect against type II diabetes, aid weight loss, strengthen the nervous system, and help with the production of white blood cells, all due to high levels of vitamin B-6.
  7. Strengthen your blood and relieve anemia with the added iron from bananas.
  8. High in potassium and low in salt, bananas are officially recognized by the FDA as being able to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke.

    Eating Bananas Aids Digestion

  9. Rich in pectin, bananas aid digestion and gently chelate toxins and heavy metals from the body.
  10. Bananas act as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel. They also produce digestive enzymes to assist in absorbing nutrients.
  11. Constipated? High fiber in bananas can help normalize bowel motility.
  12. Got the runs? Bananas are soothing to the digestive tract and help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhoea.
  13. Bananas are a natural antacid, providing relief from acid reflux, heartburn and GERD.
  14. Bananas are the only raw fruit that can be consumed without distress to relieve stomach ulcers by coating the lining of the stomach against corrosive acids.

    Natural Cures From A Simple Banana

  15. Eating bananas will help prevent kidney cancer, protects the eyes against macular degeneration and builds strong bones by increasing calcium absorption.
  16. Bananas make you smarter and help with learning by making you more alert. Eat a banana before an exam to benefit from the high levels of potassium.
  17. Bananas are high in antioxidants, providing protection from free radicals and chronic disease.
  18. Eating a banana between meals helps stabilize blood sugar and reduce nausea from morning sickness.
  19. Rub a bug bite or hives with the inside of the banana peel to relieve itching and irritation.
  20. Control blood sugar and avoid binging between meals by eating a banana.
  21. Eating a banana can lower the body temperature and cool you during a fever or on a hot day.
  22. The natural mood-enhancer tryptophan, helps to relieve Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
  23. Quitting smoking? Bananas contain high levels of B-vitamins as well as potassium and magnesium to speed recovery from the effects of withdrawal.
  24. Remove a wart by placing the inside of a piece of banana peel against the wart and taping it in place.
  25. Rub the inside of a banana peel on your leather shoes or handbag and polish with a dry cloth for a quick shine.

Yamburgers

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Let me start off by stating this: I hate most veggie/vegetarian burgers. There, I said it.

Now, the reason why I tackled this one is because I was a) out of a lot of ingredients and b) had a day off to create. I think these turned out pretty darn well considering it was an old mother hubbard kind of day in the kitchen.

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas

1 large yam roasted

1 yellow onion

Pinch tri-coloured peppercorns

1/4 tsp hawaiian salt

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp celery seed (ground)

1/4 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh parsley

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp grape seed oil

Method:

Process all ingredients in food processor. Pile onto plate and refridgerate for 3-5 hours (I like to let the flavours settle in this way as well as making it easier to work with to form).

Using scoop or large spoon form into lumps and then patties.

Heat skillet on stovetop at medium-low heat. Pan fry for 2-3 minutes each side or until crispy.

Here I have served these on a bed of mesclun greens with my homemade sundried tomato oil i& apple cider vinegar infusion as a dressing as well as my Cauliflower Buffalo Wings as a tasty side/appy.