Homemade Ramen Bowls

October 13, 2013

Its a point of pride for me that I can come up with tasty and fun meals that are vegetarian or vegan and keep the masses happy.  But there are definitely times when we look at our weekly menu and 1.  NOTHING sounds appealing and 2.  We notice “sandwiches” make it on the list 3 different times.  Chances are, when we get to this point, we wind up with more frozen pizzas and less money in our pockets.  Not to mention a significant dip in that “healthy”  aspect.  Oops.

This weekend in an attempt to fix that – I decided to try my hand at something fun and pretty easy to do.  Homemade ramen bowls!

Complete with Sake (which was...not our thing)

Complete with Sake (which was…not our thing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since it was Saturday and I had some time, I decided to go all out on these, I took a cue from Post Punk Kitchen and made my own broth by simmering some chopped onion, ginger, garlic and carrots in water.   To finish it off, I strained the liquid out and whisked in some Miso, Mirin and Liquid Aminos before cooking up the noodles in the broth.   I found packages of ramen Noodles (I think my package called them Chinese Noodles) in my grocery store that weren’t the 99 cent instant ramen lunches, but I imagine in a pinch just buying the instant ramen noodle packs would work and you could leave out the spice packet (Bonus to making your own broth?  Saying goodbye to that unbelievably salty seasoning…).

I topped our ramen bowls with marinated and grilled sliced Portobellas and baby Bok Choy, bean sprouts, green onions and cubed tofu for me.  I didn’t bother heating up my tofu, just cubed it up and let it warm up a bit in my bowl of soup.  I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t mind the taste of tofu, cooked or uncooked and have been known to eat it straight out of the container… 🙂

Ramen 2

We topped off the meal with a glass of sake, which as I mentioned in the above image, really not our thing.  Maybe it was the bottle I picked up, but we both ended up switching out for a beer about halfway through the meal.   There was also a side of vegan spring rolls that I picked up from the frozen section, although most of my appetite was dedicated to the bowl in front of me.

A tasty way to break out of a dining rut and pretty easy to boot! It could be made even easier on a weeknight, since the noodles cook so quickly to just whip up some veggie broth (I use the bouillon cubes to control sodium) and quick cook up the veggies.  I also read that the  broth freezes pretty well, so there’s that option too.

Now…something else new to try?

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

xo

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Week 4

October 5, 2013

I am finding that no matter what the workout, no matter how much I love it or am determined to stick to a schedule – there will always be that lagging period.  You know?  That time where you feel like you’re not making any gains, where the training is more of a struggle to start and sometimes get through and you body is just tired.

I’ve been through enough exercise phases to know that this is temporary.  I also know that I feel this way almost every time I get about 4 weeks into of consistent anything.  The initial excitement wears off and your body works hard to readjust to everything you’re asking it to do.  I’m finishing up my 4th week of consistent and (relatively) heavy weight training.  I’m doing 5-6 days a week of lifting splits, targeting all of the muscle groups at least once.  So I’m bound to be tired – not to mention my body is getting used to a fairly new way of eating.

Eating.  Oh man the food.  Lifting itself is not a new concept to me, I enjoyed lifting in highschool and even maintained half assed lifting routines through college and grad school and even while running.  But this is the first time I’ve seriously lifted to gain some muscle mass rather than use it as an aside to my cardio.  I’ve been reading up a lot about it, because I want to do it right and healthy.   One of the biggest differences for me, is the change in eating.  In order to gain muscle, you have to eat more food and not burn as many calories.  i.e. lay off the cardio.  Its hard for me, since I’m a fairly petite girl measuring up to a solid 5’2 (and given the height of my mom and my dad, I’d say I’m lucky) to eat that much food.  I’m sorry to say I didn’t eat that much to begin with, so I was probably not eating enough to start out.  But to up the calories 200-400 a day PLUS adding about 1g protein/lb bodyfat.  So, I’m trying to get approximately 110 grams of protein in a day.  Which, lemme tell ya – as someone who eats a largely vegan diet, it ain’t that easy.    I’ve been experimenting with Seitan and tofu dishes to try and mimic as best as possible the lean protein non-plant based eaters can get from a piece of chicken or lean ground turkey etc.  I’ve touched on it before, but the biggest trick is balance.  Much of the vegetarian or vegan protein options have a fairly high carbohydrate to protein balance compared to meat.  For a non-“bulking” diet, that’s not as much of a deal as is for bulking, because they’re still incredibly healthy options (bulking diet or otherwise).   At the end of the day I can feel pretty full and just uninterested in dinner or a post workout protein shake.  I’ve been feeling this more lately than not and I think one of the biggest culprits is having a second protein shake earlier in the day.  Great for getting in the protein, but dang if it doesn’t make me full.  Which leads me to my 2nd issue:

The other major problem I’ve been struggling with with this “bulking” diet is that I’m focusing largely on the Macros – Fats, Carbs and Protein.  Which isn’t a bad thing, except I tend to focus so much on getting in enough carbs for each per meal, that I tend to skip over the VEGGIES.  The mainstay staple of a plant-based diet.  I already know from experience that I feel best when I’m eating fresh veggies at least 2-3 times a day, usually in the form of a nice big salad at lunch.  Enter this lovely friend:

Journal

One of the major benefits from having a workout journal is that I can look back on the past few weeks and if I’ve been dedicated to keeping track of what I’ve been eating and how I’ve felt each day, and I like to think I have been, which gives me a great way to figure out what days I felt my worst and see if there was a correlation.  In most cases, that correlation came from not enough veggies.  Most weight lifters tend to consider these as “free foods”, because yes, they are carbs, but they’re so full of fiber and so low in calories that they tend to make very little difference in the end.  Plus, they’re essential in just feeling better.

So – going into week 5-8 I have a few goals for myself.  I’m happy with the groundwork I’ve laid, developing some good muscle endurance, making working out each night a habit, enough to the point that rest days drive me nuts –  its good to know that I have the self-discipline to at least force myself to start.  In most cases, if I start, I finish and so far that’s been the case for each night I think “man, but I am just so sore” or “tired” or “need a break”. I promise myself if I start and I’m just not feeling it or if I just phone it in, I can stop and start it up again the next day.  So far, that hasn’t been necessary and I’ve pushed myself to lift like I mean it each night.   I’m proud of how I’ve researched out exercise alternatives to the lifts I can’t perform at home and the creativity I’ve used to make use of resistance bands and ankle weights.   I haven’t seen much change in actual muscle size yet – which, i’m not looking for much, but I have read that it takes at least 4-6 weeks before your muscles are even ready to start  to hypertrophy.  I’m taking measurements each week and “progress photos” every couple of weeks to keep track.  I’ve done a fairly good job at not stepping on the scale with the wrong mindset.  So, for weeks 5-8 I’m going to work on my food balance and really working on a mind to muscle connection.    More veggies – really honing in on that caloric intake that I’m feeling comfortable and not overly full, but still knowing I’m providing enough calories for my body to get to work.    And definitely working on focusing on each muscle group that I’m trying to target for each lift.  For some lifts, its pretty easy – biceps, shoulder presses, even my squats, split squats (devil), etc etc., but others are a lot harder, my back, my delts, triceps and calves.   So far its been fun though and I’m absolutely enjoying this new surge of “beast mode” I’ve got goin on each day.

Finally, in the spirit of what I’ve been writing about, I’d love to share a blog post that my friend recently shared with me.  It really touches on a lot of great points about being healthy as a female and what it really means.  http://sophieologie.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/1200-calories/  Take a read if you have time this weekend.

Otherwise – I have lifted my butt off this week, so I’m about to enjoy (maybe?) a nice couple of rest days around the house.

Beast mode

Beast Mode! Grrrrr baby

 

Have a great weekend ya’ll!

xo