Thursday, March 31, 2016

"Throw-It-Together Thursday". What to fix when you're too tired to think! (BONUS: TWO recipe this week!)

I think we all have that one night per week when we simply just don't want to cook. Or at least, we don't want to spend a long time thinking about WHAT to cook. Maybe you have a weekly after-work activity, late afternoon study group that always ends later than you expect it will, or an impromptu mandatory staff meeting...whatever it is for you, it's making you not wanna cook. We've all been there. For me, that day of the week is Thursday. I have to be at work very early on Thursdays, and get off just in time to head to ballet, which don't end until 9:30. You can probably imagine that by the time I get home on Thursday nights, I'm ready to eat and go to bed! So what are my favorite quick, healthy go-to meals and meal ideas? 

Wraps are one of my very favorite "go-to's." All you need is a gorilla or wrap of your choosing and whatever happens to be in your fridge! I've done sweet, savory, crunchy, warm, gooey, you name it...I've probably done it (I may or may not have done a sweet and savory combo wrap...don't knock it till you try it!). Let's take yesterday, for example:

Spinach Tomato "Ricotta" Wrap.

This was super simple and quick, but so so good! I simply took a gluten-free, spinach wrap, filled it with fresh spinach (you could also do steamed), topped it with my Vegan Ricotta Cheeze for my cookbook, and added fresh Roma tomato slices. I served it with some steamed carrots and asparagus, fresh fruit, and homemade tomato basil soup. Delish! And super quick.
What's your favorite type of wrap or tortilla?  Mine would have to be these guys...

My all-time favorite wraps...wRAWps!

I'm totally obsessed with wRAWps. They're gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, oil-free, sugar-free, AND 100% raw! They have tons of different flavors to choose from, perfect for whatever type of wrap you're craving! They even have pizza crusts, too!

A big 'ol salad is ALWAYS a good idea, but ESPECIALLY on a "fast-food" night! Many times, I will make a big salad in the morning and leave it in the fridge so it's ready to go when I get home! And like wraps, salads don't require much thought, either: just use what you've got in your fridge...I have to say I've never eaten a gross salad! :) And in the winter, when you don't necessarily want a cold salad? I love doing WARM SALADS--simply steam or sauté all the veggies you would normally use raw! Steam spinach for your base, and add sautéed onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Add some canned chickpeas, fresh herbs, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with cooked brown rice on the side. BOOM. So good.

Easy Asian Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing. (recipe below!)

Easy Asian Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing.

1. 1 cup fresh snap peas, chopped
2. 1 cup chopped red cabbage
3. 1/2 cup sliced white button mushrooms
4. 4 oz. water-packed extra firm tofu, diced
5. 2 T peanut butter of choice
6. 1/4 tsp ground ginger
7. 1 tsp soy sauce (or soy sauce substitute)
8. 1 1/2 T water
9. 1 tsp fresh lime juice
10. Pinch of stevia (or sweetener of choice)
11. Cilantro, for garnish (optional)

1. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to mix.
2. Combine peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, water, stevia, and lime juice in a small ramekin and whisk until thoroughly mixed. 
3. Drizzle dressing over salad and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Ooooooooh, who doesn't love a good old bagel?! Bagels are literally one of the most comforting foods on the planet, in my opinion. And they're such a great option for a quick evening meal: carbs are proven to help you sleep better, so they're great if you have to eat a late dinner! And they're super versatile: again, you can get totally creative with a bagel. Sweet or savory! 

Toasted Gluten-free bagel with Homemade Veggie Cream Cheezeless.
Ahhh, the casserole. Another one of those things you can literally throw everything into a giant mixing bowl, mash it up, bake, and hey--you've got a delicious dinner! Even better? You can cook them ahead of time, store in the fridge, and warm back up in the microwave/oven when you get home late. Whoever invented the casserole, I love them. 
Here's a fun little casserole I created the other night, sort of inspired by...A CHILI DOG. Yes, I'm serious. (The recipe is still vegan of course, and TOTALLY healthier than even a vegan chili dog!). It combines loads of plant protein, gut-healthy probiotics from sauerkraut, tomatoes which pack a healthy dose of lycopene, and tons of flavor. I drizzled my casserole with my "Rockstar Ranch Dressing" for my cookbook, but get creative! Mustard would be delish too.

"Meaty" Sauerkraut-Tomato Casserole.

"Meaty" Sauerkraut-Tomato Casserole.

With toppings, of course.

1. 1 cup sauerkraut
2. 1/3 cup TVP granules
3. 1/4 tsp each onion and garlic powders
4. 1/2 tsp chill powder
5. Salt, to taste
6. 1/3 cup water
7. 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
8. 2 T panko breadcrumbs (use gluten-free, if needed)
9. Toppings/dressing of choice (ketchup/mustard, etc.)

1. Combine TVP, spices, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and mix well. Add water and microwave 2 minute.
2. Add TVP, sauerkraut, and tomatoes to a large bowl and mix very well. Spoon into small casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 25 minutes.
3. Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes, and drizzle with toppings of choice. Serve warm, with a side salad, homemade potato chips, and fresh fruit.

Other than my ideas above, use your imagination...and whatever is in your fridge! It's truly amazing the flavor combinations and tasty creations you can come up with by using fresh veggies and fruits. You really can't go wrong! The best thing you can do is experiment...and enjoy! :)

Until next time, guys. Enjoy! 

"The Fit Vegan Ginger" :)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Holiday Post!: Resurrection Cookies (HIGH PROTEIN!).

When I was growing up, my mom would always make "resurrection cookies" every Easter. Not only were they delicious, but I have so many happy memories surrounding the whole process of making these. I remember it just like it was yesterday: standing in the kitchen with my mom and sister, with all 6 of our hands shaping these little cookies...and then eating them while watching movies!
So what exactly ARE resurrection cookies, you may be wondering? Besides the MOST DELICIOUS THING IN THE WORLD, of easy you almost can't call it a recipe. When I used to make them as a kid, they were simply pre-made crescent roll dough with a marshmallow wrapped inside. When you bake them, THE MARSHMALLOW "DISAPPEARS!" Or at least, that's what it seems like to a 6 year old ;) The idea behind these cookies is that you're "placing Jesus in the tomb." And when you open the tomb (i.e. "bite the cookie" haha) HE IS NO LONGER THERE! I've always thought it was creative (and of course delicious!). And with my recipe, they're HEALTHY, too! Happy Easter guys! Go make some resurrection cookies :)

Resurrection Cookies!

So good.

Protein Resurrection Cookies. Vegan, Gluten Free. Makes three large cookies.

1. 1/2 cup flour of choice
2. One scoop vanilla vegan protein powder
3. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4. 1/2 tsp baking powder
5. One packet stevia powder
6. 4 T water
7. 3 vegan marshmallows (like Dandie's brand)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix flour, protein powder, stevia, and baking powder. Add water and mix to form a dough.
3. Divide dough into 6 sections. Take one section in hands, roll into a ball, and flatten into a circle. Place on parchment and repeat with remaining 5 sections.
4. Place one marshmallow in the center of one circle of dough. Top with another dough circle and gently press outer edges together to seal. Repeat for 3 large cookies.
5. Cover cookies with a foil tent and bake for 25-30 minutes, until firm and set.
6. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before enjoying.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fitness Friday!: The Top 5 Fitness Trends...and if you SHOULD or SHOULDN'T be doing them!

Hey, fitties! Happy Friday...or, as I prefer to call it, "FITNESS FRIDAY!"
In today's post, I'll be analyzing the top 5 most popular fitness trends of late, and whether you should add these things to your fitness routine or not.

Fitness Trend #1: Wearable Fitness Trackers and Watches

My beloved Garmin Forerunner 10! (And my morning run stats...)
Fitness watches have been up and coming for a while now, but with the release of the amazing new Apple Watch recently, the market for 24/7, portable fitness trackers has skyrocketed. But what's so great about these pricey little gadgets? And should YOU be wearing one?


  • Great for runners--makes tracking distance SUPER easy! Many fitness watches save your route also, so next time you can run the same path and STILL FIND YOUR WAY BACK HOME! :)
  • Eliminates the time-consuming process of manually tracking exercise
  • Tons of different brands and options, each with different features...meaning there's a watch for the total newbie, as well as the ironman triathlete.
  • Price. Although you definitely get what you pay for, expect to spend upwards of $150 if you really want a good quality watch.
  • Bulk. This one is only half true, I confess. There are definitely ski and trim watches out there, but let's be realistic--the bigger the watch, the more it can do.
  • Can "lock you in". I would have to say the biggest downfall when it comes to fitness watches is many times, people lose the joy of their workout or run by obsessing over the stats during the run/workout. I remember a particular friend of mine who had just purchased her first fitness watch. We went for a "fun run," but she was obsessing the whole time about falling behind her "ideal pace" and having her watch beep at her. Not fun.
Bottom Line
I really do love my Garmin. It's lasted very well (I'm going on 3 years with mine!), and really helped me in my running goals. I avoid the "lock-in" to my watch by picking one run per week where I INTENTIONALLY leave my watch at home. This enables me to focus simply on the joy of my run, and prevents me from being so focused on distance, pace, etc. So my ultimate opinion on this trend? I say YAY!

Fitness Trend #2: Minimalist Shoes/Footwear

Vibram 5 Finger Minimalist Shoes

Minimalist shoes. I think you either love 'em or hate 'em. Here's the deets, peeps.


  • Great for building ankle and foot strength
  • Can be worn at other times
  • They're ugly. This one is a matter of opinion, but I'm going with ugly.
  • Can cause foot and ankle injuries if you don't work up to using them
  • Don't last as long as regular running shoes
Bottom Line
Honestly, this one truly comes down to personal preference. For me, I avoid minimalist trainers like the plague...I have a history of foot and ankle injuries, and quite frankly, these terrify me. However, that being said, I have a TON of running friends who have tried minimalists and fallen head over heels in love with them, saying their times have improved, their feet have gotten stronger, and they can run longer without getting blisters. It really comes down to your body structure and what you prefer (and what terrain you run on...I don't recommend minimalists for trails...ow...)

Fitness Trend #3: Smartphone Exercise Apps

I love my 12 minute athlete app!

So many little time!


  • Easily accessible on any smartphone
  • Portable workouts, all stored in your phone (no bulky notebooks here!)
  • Lots of different exercise options (yoga, HIIT, pilates, kickboxing, running, etc.)
  • The good ones cost money...although typically no more than about $5 (my 12 minute athlete app was $2.99! Not bad considering I use it every day!)
  • Impersonal training advice. While apps are great (no arguing there!), nothing beats the one-on-one interaction with a real personal trainer. Apps can't answer your exercise questions or analyze your form!
  • Same workouts over and over (unless you upgrade your version...which costs MORE money...)
Bottom Line
I definitely, DEFINITELY love my workout apps (plural. I have WAY TOO MANY.). However, apps definitely don't replace personal trainers. As wonderful as technology is, there will always be a demand for human beings! (THANK HEAVENS.)

Fitness Trend #4: Sport-Specific Training

Sport-Specie Training

Sport-specific training is a relatively new trend to the fitness world. Basically what it is is exercise that is specially formulated for each individual athlete, based on what their primary sport or form of exercise is. So, if you're a rower, you would have a workout plan that is primarily focused on strengthening the muscles associated with rowing workouts.

  • Proven to be effective with athletes of all ages
  • Motivating for young athletes to exercise outside of their primary sport
  • Doesn't prevent injury: by only focusing on the muscles that are already stronger than other muscles, athletes can start overcompensating for the less-srenthened muscles, ultimately leading to injury.
Bottom Line
Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of cross training for sport-specific athletes. However, this isn't really true cross-training. By only working out the muscle groups athletes are already working out, they almost totally defeat the purpose. The best exercise approach for a competitive/sport-specific athlete is a total body workout 2-3 times per week, in addition to their regular training. Head to the gym for a full-body lifting session, followed by 30 minutes on the bike/elliptical/treadmill, depending on your primary sport. 

Fitness Trend #5: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT me baby, one more time!

You guys already know how I fell about HIIT was, well, "love at first sweat" for me! Here's why...

  • Super quick workouts: the average HIIT workout is no more than about 15 minutes...TOPS!
  • Super effective: By combining short bursts (about 30-50 second intervals) of insanely high intensity exercise and even shorter bursts of rest or low intensity exercise (10-30 seconds), HIIT literally makes you a calorie burning machine! Your body doesn't have time to slow down, so you force your metabolism to catch up!
  • Proven to shed fat while building lean muscle. I've always struggled with gaining muscle. But when I started HIIT training, BOOM BABY! HELLOOOOOO MUSCLES!
  • Not many...unless you're a wimp ;)
  • Be prepared to work...HARD. Although these workouts are short, they are PAINFUL to put it lightly. 12 minutes of death, anyone?!
  • Can be discouraging for a fitness/workout newbie. Because these workouts have SUPER short rest periods, someone new to the whole exercise thing can easily get discouraged. HIIT is no joke, people! It's hard! 
Bottom Line
I love HIIT. Like, love affair love. But the majority of HIIT workouts available on the internet are geared towards those who have been exercising for some time, and developed fairly good cardiovascular endurance already. So what's the alternative for newbies? Simple. DEVELOP YOUR OWN HIIT ROUTINES. Seriously! It's super simple...I do it all the time, just for kicks! 
Simply pick your top 5 fave HIIT exercises (ones you've already mastered), followed by the longest work/shortest rest period combo you can manage (for example: my top 5 fave moves: burpees, rockstar jumps, slip jump lunges, dive bomber pushups, V-ups. My longest/shortest interval set: 50 sec. work: 10 sec. rest). After that, pick the length of your workout (I like 15 minutes, so with a 50:10 interval set, combined with my 5 moves, I would do this whole set 3 times). THAT'S IT! Not only is it perfect for your fitness level, but IT'S FUN! Gives you an opportunity to get creative!
Still not sold on the whole "develop you own workout" thing? No problem. Shoot me an email at and I'd be happy to help! 

Well there you have it, guys. The top 5 fitness trends of 2016. Now comes the fun part...deciding which ones you're gonna give a go!
Until next time, fitties :)
Anna, "The Fit Vegan Ginger"

EXTRA! EXTRA!: Be sure to keep your eyes out for my first recipe ebook, coming at the end of April! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

BBQ Lentils and 'Shrooms.

If you're anything like me, BBQ anything is good...but when it's hearty brown lentils and meaty mushrooms that are dredged in a sweet and tangy spicy BBQ sauce?! Well, "good" just turned into "glorious"!
This is a super quick protein dish that is perfect to throw on top of a toasted hamburger bun, rice cakes, mixed greens, steamed veggies, or even brown rice or quinoa. Takes about 5 minutes, start to finish (no joke!), and tastes as if you slaved in the kitchen for hours. Sounds to me like I just decided what you're having for lunch tomorrow (or midnight snack tonight, maybe?!). Enjoy, everyone!

BBQ Lentils and 'Shrooms.

BBQ Lentils and 'Shrooms. Vegan, Gluten-free. Serves one.

1. 1/2 cup canned lentils, drained and rinsed
2. 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
3. 3 T BBQ sauce of choice (try my Spicy Chipotle BBQ recipe, on the blog!)

1. Combine all ingredients in a small soup pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through and bubbling slightly. Serve as desired! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

New Workout Wednesday: Simple and Effective Upper Body Routine (Arms, Chest, Shoulders, and Back)!

It's Wednesday...and you guys know what that means...A NEW WORKOUT! Specially formulated by yours truly :) This awesome routine focuses on Upper Body, i.e. arms (biceps and triceps), chest, shoulders, and back...all these muscles only about 30 minutes! Yep, you read that right: 30 minutes. How?! With TFVG secret workout formula: I call it "multi training." Basically, my simple formula combines two strength-based exercises into one, maximizing muscles used, while minimizing workout time. Additionally, by combining TWO exercises, you stress your body twice as hard, doubling calorie burn per exercise.
This is a pretty basic, beginner-friendly workout, so not all the exercises are multi training exercises...however, as you get more comfortable with each individual exercise I introduce, you can start meshing more and more exercises together. Get creative with your training--exercise should be fun! Enjoy the workout!
--Anna, TFVG :)

Beginner's 30 Minute Upper Body Routine

Warm up with 15 minutes light to moderate cardio before beginning any strength training routine.

1. Free standing dumbbell bicep curls--3x10 
2. One-arm overhead tricep extension--3x10 (each arm)
3. Reclined chest press--3x10
4. Straight-arm lateral side raises--3x10
5. Squat with military press (multi trainer!)--3x10 
6. 10 pull-ups (or until failure)

Always stretch after completing your workout.