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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day one: My vegetarian weight loss adventure

I have woken up so many mornings over the last several weeks months years (let's be honest...)  saying to myself, "Today I am going to start to eat healthier and exercise...". Most times I start out great with a sensible breakfast, but by lunchtime I have already fallen off the wagon. I'd open up the fridge and pantry & despite all the really healthy ingredients I keep stocked, I would manage to come up with something decidedly unhealthy to eat for lunch. And no matter what I made, I would just plain eat too much of it.

However, this morning felt different somehow. I didn't even think about what I wanted to eat for breakfast, I just made a nice, healthy smoothie with frozen mango and blueberries, fat free yogurt and a splash of OJ along with two slices of whole wheat toast with a very thin schmear of butter (I just couldn't do it dry). And then I sat down at my computer and joined an online calorie and fitness tracking website. As painful as it was to type in my weight, the rest was quick and easy and I chose a fairly aggressive 2 pounds-per-week weight loss goal. The site recommends 1#/week, but I know how I am wired - I'd rather strive to meet a lofty goal than set the bar too low. No, I am not willing to share my weight with the world yet, but I will say that I get a little more than 1600 calories to work with each day, and any exercise I do burns calories so I can add that much back into my daily budget. The site is great. I easily found everything I had eaten for breakfast in their extensive database, and it even lets me upload my own recipes and photos. After introducing myself to the "community" I immediately received several encouraging messages and friend requests from people on the site - how nice!

I just finished lunch and I'm so excited to post my recipe for these veggie burgers. Eaten right off the grill they were quite tender and delicious, but honestly they were even better as leftovers. They firmed up a bit more & had a great texture so next time I will make a double batch and freeze half.

Please don't criticise my photography, I know I should not have taken the picture into the light! I'm hoping to get help from a friend with future pics, but this was so yummy I wanted to share it right away. I will probably not be one to post a bunch of pictures of all the ingredients, processes, cooking methods, etc. etc. 'cuz when I read a blog or look up a recipe I really just want to see the money shot (although one site I visited had a two photo GIF that made it look like her food processor was pulsing - too cute!) Besides, while in the midst of cooking I wouldn't want you to see the state of my kitchen in the background of a photo - 
I'm not the "clean up as you go" kind of cook.
In case you're wondering, for dinner I made a big pot of Minestrone soup with all kinds of veggies, chick peas, and whole wheat elbow mac. This is one of my standard clean-out-the-fridge-and-pantry meals. Summer is coming and sadly, I completely lose my taste for soup & stew when the temperature of the air outside rises above 98.6°F. Instead I will transform the semi-limp veggies and leftover grains from the back of the fridge into a salad, stir-fry or grilled veggie sandwich.
All in all I consumed about 1700 calories today, but I burned about 300 walking, so I was under my daily allotment by almost 200 calories. Not bad for my first day!
Chick Pea & Spinach Veggie Burger
makes 10
 2 -15oz cans garbanzo beans (chick peas) low sodium, rinsed and drained
1- 10oz pkg frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup old fashioned dry oats
1.5 cups brown rice, cooked 
 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 medium scallions, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup panko
Mix panko and bread crumbs together in a medium bowl, set aside. Pulse all ingredients except crumb mixture in a large food processor until well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl and add a small amount of water if needed to process completely. Using a 1/2 c measuring cup or scoop, make 10 patties, dredge in crumb mixture and place on a sheet pan lined with foil. Mixture will be very soft. Chill 30 minutes. Carefully slide foil off sheet pan onto a hot grill. Grill patties on foil sheet over medium heat until browned and heated through about 7 minutes per side. They can also be cooked indoors without the foil on a griddle or pre-heated grill pan sprayed liberally with cooking spray.
Optional Toppings
 2 Tbsp jarred olive tapenade or chopped olives
1 Tbsp feta cheese crumbles mixed with 1 Tbsp plain yogurt to make a sauce
 halved cherry tomatoes tossed with minced garlic and a splash of olive oil & red wine vinegar
 half of a roasted red pepper
a few leaves of raw baby spinach 
Serve with or without a toasted whole wheat bun
Plain patty: 160 calories, with bun & the works: 476 calories
I've polished off most of the lovely toppings now, so tomorrow for lunch I think I will make a big spinach salad with red onion, green pepper and mushrooms with a lemony tahini dressing & I'll crumble a patty and some feta cheese on top. Yum!


  1. Congratulations on starting your blog! I have struggled with my weight too--I am so bad about portion sizes. :/ But I've found that healthy foods fill me up so much more than things like brownies and potato chips (two of my weaknesses). These burgers look delicious!

    Oh, and I shoot a lot of my photos into the light. Do you have curtains? If you do and they're white, close them. If not, you can hang a white sheet over the window and it diffuses the light. You can hold up a white sheet of paper under your camera and it will reflect light from the window back onto the front of your subject. :)

  2. Replies
    1. They freeze very well! In fact I usually make at least a double batch and freeze a bunch for quick meals later. I cook them all up at once, then place them in gallon freezer bags when cooled. I wouldn't try to freeze them before cooking - I think they would fall apart. Thaw for a minute or two in the microwave, lightly brush with olive oil then grill or pan fry until heated through. Enjoy!