Veggie to the Core – A Pre-Surgery Challenge

I’m having surgery on my ACL/Meniscus in exactly 8 days and I’m gearing up mentally, physically and food-wise. After a delicious breakfast of chia seed & berry French Toast with raw coconut, sesame & pumpkin seeds, we headed to the grocery store to stock up on meal-prep goodies.

Today, I’m prepping a Red Lentil Thai Chili, a Butternut Squash & Carrot soup, black bean & pepper enchiladas & a Red Lentil Peanut Soup (I’m using lentils instead of quinoa from the soup swap recipe) for post-surgery nourishment. Mike helped prep the veggies, since my knee was a bit sore from yesterdays outing to the Denver art museum.

Tomorrow, I’ll kick off a Veggie to the Core 7 challenge to get my body in the best pre-surgery shape possible. My surgeon has passed over a number of nutritional tips, leg strengthening and core exercises which I’ve been taking to heart since I found out I needed surgery. But, I’m kicking it up a notch for the next 7 days. I’ll post my veggie packed recipes that will load up on iron-laden veggies, high protein & calcium dense dishes, along with low-impact leg exercises to strengthen & core exercises to prepare for April 4th.

If you’re looking to get in on some veggie goodness, kick start a cleanse, want to follow my journey or create your own, feel free to follow me on my new page: Happy Kitchen.

Happy Sunday!

Countdown to the Cut

It’s been 3 weeks since I blew out my knee (ACL & Meniscus) in a back-country skiing accident and it’s been, admittedly, a rough road. After realizing the extent of the injury, I found out that surgery was in the cards. Immediately, the wheels began turning. Ski Season: Over. Recovery time: months. Hiking, running, mountain biking: postponed till further notice. So many of the reasons I moved to Colorado, I would have to put on a shelf until I healed. But then, I realized these things would be waiting for me after surgery (which is scheduled for April 4th). After my rehab, after my physical therapy, after all the baby steps I have to take, I’ll be back, stronger than before.

So the wheels started turning, this time in the right direction. A forward motion. And I started planning. I’m sharing what I want the next three weeks, before the April 4th surgery, to look like.

Physically

My Surgeon is part of Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center & I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the facility (and they’re a client as well!).  My Dr. uses HealthLoop, which is basically a patient portal that engages patients before and after procedures, pushing reminders, exercises, nutritional recommendations. It’s a holistic approach to a major health incident and I greatly appreciate it. In addition to the exercises the Dr. recommended, I signed up for a residential pass to the Apex center in Arvada so I can swim! Also, I’ve been researching yoga poses that you can do with an ACL injury. By hell or high water, I will get my physical fitness on!

Here are the exercises my Dr. passed over through HealthLoop.

Reminder: Hamstring Sets

Hamstring sets will strengthen the muscles located on the back of your thigh. Lying down on your back in bed, bend the knee very slightly and push down with the heel. Hold for the count of five seconds. Practice with both legs. Perform 10 times, twice per day until the day of your procedure.

 

Nutritionally 

On this front, I feel I’m well on my way to optimizing my recovery time – I already eat TONS of plants! I do plan to meal prep for the post recovery, when I literally can’t stand, so will incorporate more protein, plants with iron, calcium, and high fiber (which  helps with all of the antibiotics/pain pills I’ll have to take post surgery). Below are nutritional tips that I received from my Dr. and I plan to stock up!

Reminder: Make Healthy Eating A Priority!
  • Eat at least three times a day and don’t skip meals
  • Drink 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day
  • Include protein-rich foods with each meal such as beans, nuts, tofu,  chia seeds, lentils, tofu, chick peas, green peas, quinoa, millet, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast
  • Incorporate high-fiber foods in your diet such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables to help prevent constipation
  • Get lots of calcium to strengthen your bones (Kale, Almond & coconut milk, tahini, broccoli, sweet potatoes, chia seeds)
  • Eat iron-rich foods to promote healthy blood (leafy greens, cumin, soy beans, spinach, collard greens, tofu to name a few!)

 

Mentally

It’s the 3 week mark of my injury and while I’ve kept up a positive attitude up until this point, I have to admit, the blues have crept in a bit this weekend. Denver has been exceptionally warm and all who are able to take to the trails, bikes, streets, have. And I have been restricted inside. And it has SUCKED. I realized today, despite the list of ‘fun’ things I’ll be able to do while recovering, I will need to keep mentally positive. So, starting tomorrow, I’ll be starting a meditation practice in the morning and continue throughout my recovery period. Your thoughts become energy, your energy becomes action, and that action needs to move me forward.

 

Time right now is my best friend and worst enemy. Focusing on the things I can control (my physical therapy, nutrition, mental state) will make or break my recovery. My goal will be to document my journey to recovery: the good, the bad and inevitably, the ugly. You get what you put in, and I plan to make this experience a learning one.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday Funday Meal Prep: Spicy Thai Stuffed Peppers & Smokey Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Tacos

I recently tweaked my knee in a backcountry ski accident, putting a real damper on my weekend adventure plans. Any skiing, backcountry tours, mountain shenanigans are put on hold – at least for the time being. So, that means I spent the weekend at home, trying to stay off my knee. Trying being the operative word.

Boulder International Film Festival

So, this weekend I managed to do a bit of yard work, listed my rental property back in Conshohocken, went to Longmont to see Frantz (a film that’s part of the Boulder International Film Festival) with my mom & sister, and spent a lot of time hobbling around the kitchen. For Sunday Funday, I decided to make two dishes to prep for the week: Spicy Thai Sweet Potato Stuffed Peppers and Smoky Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Tacos.

 

Sunday Funday

Spicy Thai Sweet Potato Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers Ingredients
2 peppers, cut in half & de-seeded (I used green)
2 sweet potatoes cubed
1 cup of cooked brown rice

  1. Put cubed sweet potatoes in a bowl with a cup of water. Microwave on high for 5-8 minutes (until sweet potatoes are soft).
  2. Put halved peppers in a oven-safe dish.
  3. Mix rice & sweet potatoes together & pile into pepper halves.

 

Thai Sauce
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 garlic gloves
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons amino acid
1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon of corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of chili paste
1 tablespoon sriracha

  1. Melt coconut oil in a sauce pan. Add garlic and onions. Saute on medium-low for 2 minutes.
  2. Add pepper flakes & chili paste. Saute another 2 minutes.
  3. Add apple cider vinegar, water & amino acids. Stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the coconut milk, sriracha and corn starch mix. Stir well and turn down heat. Let simmer for 2-4 minutes.
  5. Sauce will thicken with time, so continue to stir until it’s almost gravy like. Turn off heat
  6. Pour sauce on top of the peppers.
  7. When ready, heat over to 375 and cook for 20 minutes.

Stuffed Peppers

Smoky Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Tacos

Ingredients
10 button mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cup of spinach
1 onion, sliced into slivers
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
6 tortilla wrappers or corn tortilla (You can also use lettuce to cut the carbs)
1/2 cup of cilantro for garnish

Marinade Ingredients
1/4 cup of water
3 tablespoons of liquid smoke
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
2 cloves of garlic, minced

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a plastic bag. Add the sliced mushrooms into the bag. Set in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a pan. Add the two cloves of garlic and onions. Cover with a lid for 6-10 minutes, stirring every few, so they brown, not burn.
  3.  Once the onions are browned, add the mushrooms, with the marinade, to the saute pan. Saute mixture for another few minutes.
  4. Add spinach to mixture and turn off heat, stirring until the mixture is covered with the marinade.
  5. Scoop the mixture into the tortillas.
  6. Wrap them up and put into a baking dish & top with cilantro. When ready to eat, heat over to 350 and cook for 15 minute.

Smoky Mushroom Tacos