My Green Smoothie “Break” Plus Dill-Creamed Veggies & Quinoa Stew

Good morning! I want to start off by thanking all of you who have commented here or e-mailed me in the past week regarding our discussion about using sweeteners (posts are here and here). It has ended up being a really big issue for me and has made me think a lot more about where I am in my healthy habits. I was awake in the middle of the night pondering this issue (I so wish my brain would wait until the morning to do this type of analysis) and realized that the issue for me isn’t so much whether to choose between using dates or sweeteners, but whether I should be using either at all. The bottom line for me is that I absolutely do have a propensity toward sugar addiction and using any concentrated sweetener, natural or not, is only driving those cravings. Damn.

So here is what I have decided for now. I will stop drinking green smoothies and replace them with fresh fruit and other non-sweet foods (like a tofu scramble for breakfast or something of the sort). This is not to say that I think green smoothies are unhealthy, but it is a problem for me that I cannot drink enjoy them without making them really, really sweet. My hope is that if I stop drinking them for awhile, then maybe my tastebuds will adjust where I can enjoy a smoothie blended with frozen fruit and some greens, but no dates or sweeteners.

Thank you again for everyone who has helped me get to this point! At the heart of all my food decisions is my health. I looked up my fasting glucose level from my physical last year when my diet was fairly similar to what it is now and it was 89 which is in a normal range but it could be lower. In fact, I’ve heard that somewhere closer to 80 is ideal (I haven’t done a lot of research on this so don’t quote me on that). I don’t know if that has anything to do with sugar addiction, but I think it could only help me to reduce my intake of concentrated sweeteners. It also scares me that even non-nutritive sweeteners can have an effect on insulin secretion (again, I haven’t done a lot of research on this but I think it is a possibility). My dad who died in early January had unregulated diabetes which is likely what killed him. I know for certain he was addicted to sugar.

Wow, this is heavy stuff for a Saturday! I’m not saying that I will never ever use sweeteners or dates again, but I think it’s time to try living life without them for awhile. I will keep you updated on my progress.

Since I promised an ETL-friendly recipe after the chocolate mousse one I posted yesterday, I wanted to share my experience using two new-to-me green veggies! One is called joi choy and one is called broccoli rapine (I found both at the farmers’ market). I’m not exactly sure how joi choy is different than bok choy, but it looked a lot greener to me than regular bok choy (plus I just love the name joi choy, it sounds so happy!):

The rapini is a type of broccoli and looks like this:

I wasn’t quite sure which part of the rapini was edible, so I cut off the bottom 1/3 of the stems and ate mainly the leaves plus some stems.

While the veggies were the star of this dish, I also used an onion, cooked quinoa, tomatoes, spices and an amazing creamy dill sauce (see recipe below).

I used my usual technique of water-sauteeing the veggies in a large pot:

I then piled in the beans and greens and let them wilt:

The last step is to stir in the quinoa and dill sauce:

This was a HIT, I loved the different flavors and both of the green veggies are surprisingly mild. Here’s the recipe:

I also wanted to note here that in light of long my blog posts have been recently, I may not be posting quite as frequently as I have been. I do want to remain consistent, but it’s taking a little more time than I realized to post every day. I think a fair goal would be about four times a week as opposed to six. In fact, due to my travel schedule where I’ll be driving from the Southern California desert back to where I live on the central coast this weekend, I likely won’t post here again until Tuesday as opposed to Monday.  I can’t wait to share any new savory or non-green smoothie breakfast ideas I come up with. PLEASE send me suggestions, I would love to hear them.

Have a great rest of your weekend!!!

Comments

  1. says

    I can certainly appreciate the need to experiment with taking out the sweetness for a while! I tried to do the smoothies/juices without any fruit or stevia….and, well, yuck!
    Resetting the tastebuds is a true phenomenon (I do believe!)… it does work for me to step away from sweetness for a bit and zero things out.
    Have you read or heard of the book, The Pleasure Trap ? It’s pretty interesting, and covers a wider range of things than just sweeteners, but the guy who wrote it (his name escapes me at the moment) did a webinar when I was doing the Plant-Based Nutrition Certification through T. Colin Campbell foundation…and it really rang true for me—-he talks about how the “cycle” of pleasure gets out of control. You could probably find the graph he uses if you google it—I think you’d really relate!

    New greens are exciting!

    • says

      Thx Lisa! I have read that book (Drs. Lisle and Goldhamer I believe?) and loved it. Now would probably be a good time for me to re-read it. :)

  2. Robyn :) says

    I would personally like to hear a recipe for a tofu scramble. The texture of tofu always reminds me of scrambled eggs anyway :).

    As I was reading this I was having some fruit and I noticed that green grapes are incredibly sweet. Might they be a good addition to a smoothie to make it a bit sweeter?

    Bok choi is one of my favorite vegetables. I hope I can find some joi choy somewhere. There is one vendor at the Farmer’s market here that seems to have some more unusual or rare veggies. I got something there once that was japanese and very good. It might have been joi choy, but that does not sound familiar. It kind of looked like it, though.

    • says

      Hi Robyn! Your weight loss is fantastic, congrats!!! I am really happy for you. I have made tofu scrambles before, they’re actually pretty easy. The key is to make sure you get all the water pressed out of the tofu first so the scramble doesn’t get soggy.

  3. says

    Yum yum yum yum yum. I am making that sauce for lunch, nuts I don’t have cashews.. ok I’m making it with almonds!
    I’ve been juicing for breakfasts recently and I’ve found that chucking half a carrot (or a whole small one) in makes it plenty sweet enough for me (and we all know I love sweet things) perhaps that might be an option?
    I also love grilled/dry fried veggies for breakfasts- I usually go with eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and a yummy sauce.
    The other favourite breakfast of mine is quinoa/buckwheat cooked with cinnamon and fresh or frozen fruit, raspberries are my fave, they work wonderfully as you can mush them into it and make a wonderfully filling cereal/porridge of sorts.
    Once you reset your taste buds I’m sure frozen bananas will taste sweet again and they will make your smoothies delish- don’t worry!
    oh & we all understand busy, life always takes precedence over blogging :) xxx

  4. says

    Well, Claire already mentioned it, but how about green juice for breakfast? You could juice a bunch of greens, cucumber, and celery. Then juice some lemon, ginger and apple to add a touch of sweetness, and some nice flavor. That’s refreshing and not very sweet. Green juices make wonderful breakfasts! And they give our digestive systems a break which assist in deeper detoxification, cleasing, and healing.

    • says

      Hi Angela! I love the idea of replacing a meal with juice, but am unsure if I’d have enough energy for my workout? I would like to try it in a rest day, I have read a lot about juicing and fasting and understand there are some great health benefits that can occur. Thx for the suggestion!

  5. says

    Carrie,
    It’s funny you did this post today. I just had my first breakfast in a looooong time that did not include any fruit! I made a tofu frittata w/ asparagus, leeks and spinach, sautéed some sweet potatoes and onions and a piece of carrot bread. I really missed my sweet fruit and couldn’t wait to eat a big bowl for a snack. Hope the savoriness works out for you. Breaking our everyday habits and changing up our meals is good to keep things interesting!

      • says

        Yes, you do bake in the oven. I’ve always used silken tofu and the consistency comes out still pretty soft, but firm enough to slice into. I want to try with a firmer tofu to see if I can get a more firm texture. I was never much of an egg person before becoming vegan, but this hits the spot for a savory breakfast!

  6. says

    I’m looking forward to reading about your non-green smoothie breakfasts. I must admit 98% of the time, my breakfast is a smoothie. I’m lame. :)

    Non-smoothie breakfast ideas? Oatmeal is always a good option. You can just soak raw oats in water or almond milk overnight and add fruits, cinnamon and some nuts and seeds to it in the morning. Steel cut oats cooked in the slow cooker (I especially love this topped with your applesauce). My favorite? Quinoa bowls. Quinoa + fruit + almond milk…I eat it like cereal. I like this bc I always have leftover quinoa lying around after dinner. This is a great way to use it up.

    I have never done a tofu scramble. I’m not the biggest fan of tofu. But if you figure it out I will give it a shot!

    Good luck with everything! Have a great drive. We’ll miss you on Monday. :P

    • says

      Hi Prathiba! Tofu scrambles rock! I usually add turmeric so it turns yellow and appears more appetizing. I’ll see if I can’t post one this week. Thanks for the other breakfast suggestions. :)

    • says

      Hey Liz! I recall reading about Angela’s savory oatmeal and being really unsure about it. So it actually tastes good? I’m intrigued and will try it, maybe I’ll throw some veggies in it too!

      • says

        I think it’s delicious, particularly if you like the taste of nutritional yeast. And it’s super flexible – I usually toss some smoked paprika and other spices in there. Veggies would be good too!

  7. Mallory says

    Hi Carrie, I was wondering if you have any tips for people who are struggling to reduce the amount of sugar that they eat. Cookies and chocolate are so appealing especially when I am stressed or bored, but it is having a negative effect on me. What helped you give them up? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Mallory! Yes, I do have some advice regarding cutting back on sugar. I heard Dr. Fuhrman talk about this on a conference call once and he suggested increasing your fat intake from nuts, needs and avocados for the time period (several weeks I am assuming) it takes to reduce cravings for sugar. So, instead of reaching for cookies or chocolate, try carrots (or other veggies or fruit) with almond butter. Or, perhaps an avocado mashed on a tortilla or something like that. He noted that even if you gain a few pounds from the extra fat, it will be worth it to get rid of the sugar cravings. I have taken this advice to heart and, although I’m still battling my sugar cravings, I am going to work on it some more. Does this advice help at all? I know what you are going through and it is certainly a challenge. I CAN say that during the times when I have gotten used to eating less sugar, my energy is more even and I feel much better overall.

  8. Briana says

    I’m looking forward to reading about your breakfast switch from green smoothie to savory dishes. I give you credit and commend you for this change.

    Anytime I make any of your recipes (tempeh tacos are my favorite!) I am so happy with them, so I’ll definitely have to try a tofu scramble that you recommend, I never have before.

  9. says

    We too eat greens for breakfast. Actually, we alternate between steamed greens (and sometimes beans mixed in), oatmeal w/fruit and almond butter, green smoothies, and sometimes a tofu scramble. On the mornings that I have steamed greens, I not only have more energy, I just FEEL better all around; more focused. I’ve said in the past, “greens to me is what Monster (energy drink) is to others”. I mean it’s so darn simple, right?! Eat some veg and then maybe you wouldn’t need gross energy drinks to help you along!

    Ok, let me reel myself back in here for a minute!

    Anyway! All the best while staying away from the sweeteners for now!! I wish I had your willpower. ;-) I think dates are the next best thing and find that if I use just enough they work really well for me. I sometimes make a date sauce (dates and water simmered for about 20 minutes, then blended) – used as you would agave, syrup, etc. Plus it works better than chopped dates in my crappy blender!

    Have a great week!!!

    • says

      Hi Ginny! I love your idea about making a date syrup, I might try this the next time my husband request pancakes instead of serving maple syrup. GREAT idea!!! What do you use your date sauce for? Also, I love your breakfast suggestions, but what do you serve your steamed greens with? Don’t tell me you just eat them straight? :)

      • says

        Hi Carrie! :)

        I’ve used the date sauce for dipping apples, in smoothies, and anything else you want to drizzle it on (like you said, pancakes). It’s soooo good! (I’m going to email you a picture of something I put together w/it).

        Most of the time I eat them straight (on the side, w/my oatmeal), or I stuff them in a corn tortilla w/other steamed/sauteed veg. I love them! :)

  10. Jill in Chicago says

    I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said, but good for you for trying real whole fruit as a way to curb sugar cravings! I heard a talk given by a nutritionist way back in college (I wish I could remember her name now, it was really before I was interested in eating well and covering her talk for a newspaper,) but one thing that stuck with me was that she said if you are craving sweet treats like chocolate/cookies/ice cream then you are not eating enough fruit.

    I’ll echo that I also think you can re-set your taste buds — when I did my first Whole Foods 28-Day Healthy Eating Challenge I pretty much gave up sugar and when I had my first cup of flavored coffee after that month it tasted really ‘fake’ sweet and not good at all.

    Cheers to you and good luck!!!

    • says

      Hi Jill! I love this advice about not eating enough fruit and that could be driving the sugar cravings. I had noticed that I was choosing smoothies over the fruit on the counter as opposed to the other way around, so I’ve turned my focus back to eating fresh fruit as my dessert. It’s nice to hear other people say that tastebuds can, in fact, adjust to less sweet foods. I think even after 2 days of not having dates or sweeteners, I’m already starting to adjust. Yay! :)

  11. says

    Although I understand your concern over the sweetener issue, I hope you don’t drive yourself crazy trying to avoid them at all costs! My fasting blood glucose was 80 too, and my new doc (whom I really trust) said he’d actually like to see it just a tiny bit HIGHER, because 80 or below can indicate a tendency towards hypoglycemia – which will only drive your sweet cravings even further. Also, don’t forget that ALL carbs – not just sugars – cause an insulin release…this includes fruits, veggies, beans, grains, etc. AND protein also causes an insulin release, albeit on a smaller scale. So try not to sweat the idea that sweeteners like stevia MAY cause a slight release of insulin – because everything else you’re eating is already causing you to release some insulin anyway! I have a tendency to “freak out” over health issues in a similar way, so I REALLY relate. You probably already know most of this stuff, but I thought I’d throw it out there :) But anyway, my two cents is, it’s ok to relax about it a little bit! <3 Good luck!

    • says

      Hi Amber! Great input, thank you for that. Good point on the fact that other foods cause an insulin release. I guess I’ve gotten caught up in the fact that “sugar is the devil” and that my cravings seem to be increasing. I think a break from both dates and sweeteners for a few days is already helping. I hope in the future that I can enjoy occasional sweet treats and not feel like it’s going to drive my eating habits. I’m sure you’re right, I probably need to relax a bit and not worry so much. I’m feeling really healthy in general so that’s a good sign. :)

  12. Karen says

    Read 80/10/10. Choosing to do fruit in a larger quantity is a fantastic step in the right direction for vegan health. BUT you do need large amounts of greens daily also. Sweetening your green smoothies with fresh fruit or dates is a great way to make them sweet enough for even a child to drink.

    Addictive food thoughts are actually detox symptoms. Your body IS indeed using the high nutrition in greens in order to clean up the body/brain/emotions which include addictive thoughts and feelings.

    I would recommend going back on the green smoothies and doing daily enemas. This will help your body to eliminate the toxins that are being stirred up. Don’t believe me, take the leap and do an enema. It’s the #2 thing to do to help your body overcome years of abuse. Some we don’t even do on our own. There have been untold chemicals and additives put into our phood for years!

    The #1 suggestion would be to do an extended juice feast with education and support. Of course again you would need to do enemas. Anything less than 30 days juice feasting just stirs up the sediment. I am on day 47 of a 92 day journey and I truly am feeling better than ever.

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