Lil Miss Fitness Freak

"And though she be but little, she is fierce"


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Clam and Turkey Kielbasa Paella

Friends, a new recipe a new recipe!

Okay so as I typically do when I have downtime and my housemates are busy is I do some meal prepping for them…. You may think that’s lame but I enjoy the creative time spent in the kitchen. This is especially true in situations like now when no one has come back to Guelph yet, it’s freezing outside and I have lil stressed birdies to feed. Rita has been trekkin through the first week of her co-op in TO and unfortunately is stuck commuting for a short while before figuring out better arrangements. That means 5am wake-up calls and 7:30 arrivals at home. So, as you can imagine, if left to her own ways, food would be bought every day…

Of course, Mama can not let that happen, so here we are.

Before you call me out on being judgey, she doesn’t feel good when she eats out too much but she just doesn’t want to cook…

My challenge (yes I even make challenges to myself to make it more exciting…) was to make sure that everything she got was high in iron as she suffers with chronic anemia. I have succeeded thus far with making each of her 3 square meals per day contain at least 15% or more of her daily iron. Also a positive, she loved every meal and because I’m making them, they are not loaded with crap.

Win win if I do say so myself.

So I do have a recipe to show you BUT first I figured I would give a bit of insight into her meals to show you how I got her iron intake up in tasty meals that took no more than 30-40 minutes to make.

Breakfast.

Oats, wheat bran and maybe some cream of rice thrown in too.

Okay, so I did the whole oat’s thing thang because I can stuff them in a glass jar and she can heat them and eat them on the train. I also used oats because 1 serving contains 8% of your daily iron! I also did a blend of oats and wheat bran because the bran contains a wee bit more iron per serving.

Okay so that’s only 8% iron…

Wait a minute, you know my oats ain’t no plain jane oats. Let me continue.

She loves savoury oats, so I threw this lil number together and she adored it. So much so that I had to make it again the next day..

Awful picture I’m sorry. I swear it tastes good. Rita vouches for it!

Sundried Tomato and Mushroom OIAJ

~Serving of sundried tomatoes, not packed in oil (8% iron)

~Cremini mushrooms 

~ about 1-1.5 ounces of a homemade sausage of sorts that she picked up during Xmas when all the farmers came into the mall (iron..I have no idea..)

~1 large egg that was roughly scrambled (6% iron)

~1 green onion

~Pepper to taste 

Directions: Sauté all of the vegetables and sausage (or other meat) together in a saucepan that has a lid. Once they are caramelized, add your oats and recommended water. Top with the lid and bring to a boil. Once most of the water has been absorbed, crack the egg in there and let it cook mostly before breaking it up. Put in a jar and voila, donzo.

Something else to consider when thinking about plant based iron sources is that they have primarily non-heme iron and are therefore the iron is not as well absorbed as animal products that contain heme iron. Never fear, if your food also has a good dose of vitamin C, you are better able to absorb iron. So in the case of oats, the sundried tomatoes help the body absorb more of the iron in the meal.

You know what else is high in vitamin C?

unknown-pineapple

And so I rotated sweet and savoury oats by making her a pineapple and coconut oats in a jar one morning as well. The cooking is the same BUT obviously you’re using fruit and not vegetables (although if you want to grate some zucchini in there I wouldn’t oppose…and you can’t taste it) AND the egg is whipped in there such that it dissolves completely.

So even forgetting the iron amount in the sausage, I racked in about 18% iron to start off her day.

Lunches/Dinners

So here was where I got to be more creative. I’m going to apologize in advance that I have no pictures…

The first dish was an Italian/Mediterranean style penne dish but it has a twist!

It used these noodles..

Do you see that iron friends! Oh and check how short the ingredient list is! Score one for Mama and her foodie finds.

Beans, legumes and lentils are a vegetarian staple for more than just protein needs. Iron is huge in these guys so now the are coming up with interesting ways to incorporate beans/lentils into more dishes.

Sundried Tomato, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pasta with Basil Pesto.

For one serving:

~1 serving bean pasta (15% iron)

~1 serving sundried tomatoes, not packed in oil (8% iron + vitamin C)

~a few cremini mushrooms 

~onion

~2 tbsp goat cheese (2% iron)

~2 tbsp basil pesto

~Black pepper and chili flakes to taste 

***I chose not to add garlic here because her goat cheese was a garlic infused one

Directions: Cook up your pasta to the doneness you prefer, rinse and drain. Salute your vegetables until caramelized. Add your pasta and your pesto and stir around to coat all of the ingredients with the pesto. Let it cool for a few minutes before adding the goat cheese in small chunks.

Iron count: 25% DV

***Vegetarian friendly with tons of good protein. Also gluten free. ***

Finally, I made a Cajun seasoned dish of sorts with a turkey kielbasa I picked up from GoodnessMe!

turkey-kielbasa

Cajun Turkey Kielbasa and Pepper Quinoa

For one serving:

~1 serving Kielbasa (6% iron)

~ serving quinoa (cooked from package directions. I used low sodium beef broth for more flavour) (8% iron) 

~1/4 each green and red pepper (Vitamin C!)

~serving of corn (I used salt free, canned) (little bit of Vitamin C)

~1/8 cup onion, chopped

~1/2 tsp (or more) minced garlic

~1 tsp salt-free Cajun seasoning (or to taste)

Directions: Cook Quinoa, fluff and set aside. Saute vegetables with kielbasa until caramelized. Add your garlic and cook for a minute or two more. Add your quinoa and cajun and combine well. Done.

Total iron: 14%

So her total for those three meals alone (approximately as absorption differs, blah blah blah…) was around 57%!

I say I didn’t do too bad eh?

Oh and all of that (plus the recipe to come) was maybe 40 bucks. Cha-ching! or rather, lack of cha-ching…#StudentBudgetWin.

Okay okay, now that I have sufficiently babbled on and on, here’s the actual recipe for the post.

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Clam and Turkey Kielbasa Paella

Serves 3-4

~2 servings Kielbasa (12% iron)

~2lbs clams in shell or about 6-8 ounces of meat (~130% iron in one serving!!)

~1 cup rice (I used white jasmine) (8% iron)

~1/2 each green and red pepper

~1/2 a small-medium zucchini

~1/2 can of corn (no salt)

~1/2 can tomato paste (no salt) (4% iron)

~1-2 tsp spanish paprika

~1 tsp oregano

~2 bay leaves

~ pinch of saffron threads (I happen to have this on hand, I don’t know an alternative to this for taste, but you can just make it ‘spicy tomato rice’ without it)

~chili flakes or cayenne pepper AND black pepper to taste

Directions: Saute your vegetables with the kielbasa in a large pan with a lid for a few minutes until they are browned. Add your tomato paste, spices, rice and liquid (as required for your rice to cook) and stir. Place the bay leaves in the rice and pop a lid on dish and bring it up to a boil. Once it begins to boil, turn it down to a simmer and allow the rice to cook with the lid on. Once the rice has absorbed most of the water, wash and scrub your clams and add them to the pan and put the lid back on. The dish is done when the shells open up. You can than remove the shells and any clams that didn’t open up. Also make sure to remove the bay leaves. Than enjoy!

Iron Count per serving (4): just under 40% DV iron 🙂

What have we learned?

If you’re iron deficient, eat your mussels, clams and/or oysters friends.

That is all. I hope you enjoy it and perhaps add a lil iron in your diet. Good for them energy gainz ya feel me?

-Chelsea

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The Meat Freak Talks Vegan Say What?!

Hey friends!

I had a request to talk give out some vegan recipes and I finally decided to tackle that one for ya! Oh hey Melissa, this ones for you. 🙂 Now, as you all probably know, I’m a complete carnivore (no offense to all the vegans and vegetarians out there) and due tot that, I don’t really have any full meals that are vegan to share with you. I was going to do one meatless Monday this vacation with a soup, but I didn’t think that was very creative so I thought it would be better to just do some bloglovin and share some amazing recipes from the blog-o-sphere. I will however give some tips and factoids about the nutritional requirements I think are important as you have to be much more mindful that you are giving you body what it needs for any diet that requires restriction.

So how ’bout some lil pointers first eh?

The first thing that comes to mind is protein. It’s the question that makes all vegans (and vegetarians) go crazy because it really isn’t that hard to get all of your protein from non-animal sources, it just takes a lil bit more thought.

I will go off the deep end here and say that if you’re a hard core bodybuilder you may need some protein powder of some kind to meet your needs if your diet is also carb restricted. I firmly believe that high protein is needed to build a decent amount of muscle, many will argue against this notion, but this is what I believe.

There are many sources of protein in nature other than in animal products. Yes, vegetarians will have it easier as they can include dairy, fish and eggs, if they chose, and that should mean they have no problem reaching their requirements for protein BUT vegans, it can be trickier.

With plant based proteins, they are incomplete (with a small handful of exceptions which most people don’t eat, like some forms of algae/kelp I believe), meaning they don’t have all of your amino acids. Due to this, it is crucial that you eat a variety of different foods to ensure you are getting all of your amino acids (ie building blocks of any new tissue, muscle, etc in the body), especially those essential ones that the body cannot make on it’s own. Now, I have now come to believe that you don’t need to do complementary pairing at every meal, but instead, having a day full of variety is enough to get what you need.

Here are some examples of foods for your essential ones. Make sure to include these in your diet daily as you cannot make these lil guys.

  • Histidine: Rye, bananas, green vegetables, rice
  • Isoleucin: Soy protein, seaweed
  • Leucin: Beans, lentils, nuts, rice, oats
  • Lysine: Beans, nuts, seeds, some grains
  • Methionine: Beans, nuts, seeds, grains,
  • Phenylalanine: Soy products, nuts and seeds
  • Threonine: Lentils, black beans and sesame seeds
  • Tryptophan: Spirulina, unsweetened chocolate, seeds, some grains (like quinoa), and dates
  • Valine: Beans and legumes

The only other issue of getting enough protein with this lifestyle is whether or not your body responds well to the protein sources you have left. Personally, not only would I never be able to give up meat without feeling like I’m giving up the best foods (again, sorry to those who are not meat eaters, I’m just being honest), but my body just wouldn’t work eating vegetarian proteins. I can only eat beans and lentils once in a blue moon because they upset my stomach (way to gassy), I refuse to eat soy and well….there’s nothing really substantial left. Check out the video (click on the image) I posted below for my take on this issue.

So now that we got the big one out of the way, some other vitamins and minerals of concern, especially with vegans include:

B12: This guy is very hard to find naturally in non-animal products so you’re kinda stuck going with supplements or fortified foods. One natural source I do know of is nutritional yeast (which more use a cheesy tasting substitute). Guys, you need this one for sure as it can wreck havoc on your system from damaging your nerves, causing anemia or leading to heart problems. Take this one seriously or you will find yourself in a convulsive fit.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Without fish, this one can be tough because plant based sources are tricky to use by the body. For example, while flax is a source of omega fatty acids, specifically ALA, the body has to convert that ALA to EPA and DHA and it’s not very efficient at this process. As a result, you are kind of stuck getting a small fraction of what you see on the nutrition label. Best to find a supplement offering a high amount of DHA and EPA. The source is often algae.

Calcium: Although in smaller amounts, this one can be found in a number of plant based foods. Some of those include, dark leafy greens, beans, legumes, nuts, and many green vegetables. The issue once again comes down to the ability to absorb the calcium as there is a pesky thing called oxalate that is found in quite high amounts in those foods and that blocks absorption. Often, supplements are still required to get enough after accounting for lack of absorption.

Vitamin D: Once again, supplementation or fortified foods are your friends here as Vitamin D is a toughie in non-animal foods. Mushrooms are one of the only natural sources I can find.

Iron: Similar issue in a way to calcium. Iron comes in two forms, heme and non heme. Heme, which is in animal products, is much more bioavailable to our body’s to use, while plant based non-heme iron is harder for the body to use and thus you end up with much less in the end. Plant based foods such as grains, beans and lentils are great sources of iron BUT ensure to eat them with vitamin C to help with absorption.

Here is a great website to check out for more info! Click here.

Okay, wow this is getting long and we haven’t even gotten to the recipes yet. Okay, one final comment before I get to the food.

One major trend I see all too often with vegans and vegetarians is the fact that they eat way too many carbohydrates (as they may turn to fast or processed foods) because they don’t eat enough protein and therefore just don’t know what to eat. In the end, because carbohydrates really don’t satisfy you when consumed solo, you find yourself constantly hungry and munching and that can lead to weight gain. Just because meat is taken out of the equation (which is often the center focus of our meals these days) doesn’t mean that all you have left are carbohydrate heavy dishes.

On the other hand, I also see many very undernourished vegans because they are eating too many low calorie plant based foods and not enough fats and proteins. Although you may be getting lots and lots of vitamins and minerals from those veggies, your body needs fats and protein to sustain you, and, without them, it will start to break down quickly.

So, the key is balance. Be mindful that you get enough protein at every meal and don’t go overboard with excessive amounts of carbohydrates (as many protein sources are also quite high in carbohydrates), take supplements as needed and listen to your body. If you’re constantly getting sick, feeling tired or just not right, either you are missing something vital in your diet or it’s time to take a hard look at whether this lifestyle and determine if it’s something your body can handle.

Alrighty, now onto the fun stuff!

Zee foods.

I have hunted down a good number of recipes that I hope you enjoy. I tried to include a variety of styles, types of meals, ease of cooking and tastes for you all.

Screen shot 2014-12-22 at 9.37.40 PMOh She Glows. Protein, check. Healthy carbphydrate sources, check. Greens…I would add some kale perhaps or another dark leafy green. Also, the fat free dressing is not something I’m a fan off. Add some fat with olive oil or add avocado to your salad so it sticks around a lil bit longer.

Black Bean & Brown Rice Burritos

The Everyday Veggie. High protein but a lil on the carby side for my liking as it’s rice inside a tortilla. I would wrap it all up in a collard green wrap.

Chatelaine. I love the fact that they didn’t put it on a bun! They used portabello mushrooms as their buns which are natural sources of both protein and vitamin D.

fall pumpkin buckwheat breakfast bowl-1-3

Eating Bird Food. You didn’t think you would get away without getting something that looks like oatmeal did you? I would however add some more protein to this dish by either adding some protein powder (vegan of course, peanut flour would be ideal) or hemp seeds.

My New Roots. For the request for a vegan cheesecake, here is a beauty! Do not be afraid of the fats in this one as they are coming from healthy sources including nuts and coconut oil PLUS this is a treat. It’s much better to be eating those fats then the hydrogenated ones found in a commercial cheesecake no?

See, being vegetarian or vegan is not hard, it just takes a lil bit of base knowledge about your bodily needs, some more thought perhaps in the beginning and dropping the stigma that you will be eating leaves for the rest of your life.

Experiment and have some fun!

I hope this post helped some of you out.

It’s officially Christmas Eve tomorrow and I can’t wait!

All the best,

-Chelsea