Eating Clean in 2016!

As a foodie, I’m always on the hunt for new, exciting dishes to prepare. After cooking day in day out, 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year, the recipe roundup can get banal. To keep that from happening I challenge myself to make at least 2 new recipes per month. Even if it’s a familiar staple like carrots, I love learning new ways to prepare them. In my house we typically go a month without eating the same thing twice for dinner. That just works for me as to not get bored or discouraged with my commitment to eating clean. By no means am I suggesting you eat something different every night of the week, I’m simply stating keep it fun and tasty.


Some of the new recipe ideas go over well and are incorporated in our rotation. Others are scrapped not to be tried again; and those are usually not because of taste but because they are just too FUSSY or time consuming to prepare.


As a busy mom of 5, I like making dishes that tantalize the taste buds yet are accessible and give a good return on investment for the time and cost to prepare.


With that said, at the end of last year I began cooking through two new exciting Vegan cookbooks. While I do not ascribe to a particular dietary title (you can read more on that HERE), we do eat 85% plant-based foods in my home.


You ever pick up a cookbook whose cover is oh so inviting? Then you flip the glossy pages and the dishes cause you salivate? You proceed to bring the book home with lofty ideas of cooking ALL the dishes only to find that they are too fussy, too complicated, or require eccentric out of reach ingredients?


Well my friend that is NOT the case AT ALL with these two books.


If you’ve committed to starting your New Year focusing on your health, these plant-based recipes will not disappoint. They will delight your taste buds while nourishing and honoring your temple.


Here’s some of the fun I had cooking my way through Nom Yourself by Mary Mattern & Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen by Kathy Patalsky


Nom Yourself


Nom Yourself


I started following Mary on Instagram a few months ago because her pictures were so inviting. With every picture I thought, “I would eat that”. So I had to go pick up the book and give the recipes a try. The #1 new dish in my home for 2015 came from this book, Sesame Tofu Tacos.


Sesame Tofu Tacos

Sesame Tofu Tacos

Her Jambalaya, Tortilla Soup and Buffalo Cauliflower Mmm, mmm, good.


Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen


Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen


1st of all, the burger on the cover just draws you in. My 11 year old exclaimed, “Mommy we HAVE to make that!”


I’ve been following Kathy for a few years now via her blog. Check it out HERE. Tons of great recipes. So as soon as the cookbook came out I knew I had to get my hands on it. I feel like Kathy is my cooking twin. The flavor profiles she conjures together are so similar to mine. I think our shared love for warm/cold salads is what virtually bonded me to her forever. I’m so proud of the work she’s doing in sharing her love of eating clean while keep in delectable and exciting.


From Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles (yay I keep most of these ingredients on hand daily) to Kale Salad to Gingerbread Bundt Cake this book is chock full of yum to help you maintain your clean eating goals in an exciting, tantalizing way. Oh and what I most wanted to make, the Peanut, Tofu, Kale Black Rice Bowl.  How I’d been waiting for a reason to cook this black rice that was just sitting in my pantry. No boring tasteless steamed broccoli here.


[bctt tweet=”So what are your plans to ensure you’re eating clean in 2016?”] Do tell. I’d love to hear it.


As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!


Thanksgiving Menu

Greetings this Wellness Wednesday Inspired Life family. Have you finalized your Thanksgiving Menu? I thought I had mine complete then my sweet hubby added a few things so my list is growing. Thanksgiving is such an exciting day in my home. My children are uber excited at the thought of eating in the formal dining room and having some of their favorites that I make exclusively for Thanksgiving. They are all laughing and squealing with delight over the “BIG FEAST” as they call it.


Thanksgiving is the one time of year where I grant myself some leeway in the fat and calorie department. It’s the one time of year I use real butter and bake macaroni and cheese. Just the thought of it nearly has me salivating. So what’s on your menu? Are you making any secret family recipes? Please let me know in the comments. All of the recipes I’m making except for the Gingerbread Cake are from my head. A few I’ve jotted down and posted here on Inspired Life. For the others, I’m linking recipes that come close to what I’ll conjure up. One day I promise I’m going to write a cookbook. At least for my children’s sake, I need to move the recipes from my head to paper. One day…..


But for now, let the Feast begin. Oh by the way, did I mention this is a vegetarian menu?


Thanksgiving Menu 




Considering all the eating I’m planning to do later, I’m going to keep it tasty & satisfying yet light and filling all at the same time. My favorite smoothie will start the day the right way.

Apple Pie Smoothie





Dinner will be around 5 but I won’t starve myself until then. Nor do I want to do too much grazing or nibbling on dinner before the actual dinner. Since I eat a salad nearly everyday for lunch, I’ll stick with my surefire routine.

Spinach Pear Salad



Mmm…is all I can say. Will next Thursday please hurry and get here? The cooking will actually begin on Wednesday. Wednesday I’ll wash and chop all veggies. I’ll also make the Lentil Loaf, desserts and bake the cornbread for the dressing.

Lentil Loaf 

Macaroni & Cheese

Cornbread Dressing

My sweet Aunt Linda has entrusted me and only me with her secret recipe. I can’t divulge her secrets but here is a recipe that captures the general essence of her secret dish.


My 1st born who is now 11 discovered this recipe 2 years ago and she’s been making them for Thanksgiving ever since.

Maple Brussels Sprouts

Everyone in the house likes Brussels sprouts. In fact, we had Brussels for dinner last night. We just change them up a bit for Thanksgiving my adding maple and walnuts.

Orange Glazed Green Beans

Sauteed Kale

Sweet Potatoes

Whipped Butternut Squash

Cranberry Sauce

Dinner Rolls



Apple Crisp

Vegan Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Every year I make one new thing. This is the 2015 new item. I’ve been happily cooking my way through Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen. I wanted to make this cake sooner but decided to save it for this special occasion. I know it will have the house smelling divine. Now to be able to restrain everyone from eating it before Thursday will be the challenge.



As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

Vegetable Fried Rice

Leftover Rice? CHECK.


Odds and Ends of Veggies? CHECK.


Looks like you’ve got most of what you need to quickly prepare a batch of this tasty fried rice. So save yourself a trip to the Chinese Takeout and make your own at home.  Pair this with my Broccoli In Garlic Sauce for a satisfying meal.


Vegetable Fried Rice


3 cups cooked brown rice

2 TBSP grapeseed oil

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 onion peeled and diced

1 bunch scallions chopped

1 cup peas and chopped carrots (lightly steamed)

1/2 cup broccoli chopped

1 cup cabbage thinly sliced

2-3 TBSP soy sauce

1 TBSP ginger grated


Preheat a large skillet or wok to medium heat. Add grapeseed oil in the wok. Add onion and stir-fry 5 minutes. Add cabbage stir fry 3 minutes. Add broccoli, peas and carrots and stir-fry 2 minutes more. Add the ginger. Add sesame oil then the rice. Next add the soy sauce. Stir to combine flavors. Top with scallion and serve.


This recipe is super flexible.  Add whatever veggie you have on hand.  You can also add any protein you desire.


As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!


Happy to connect with Plant-Based Potluck Party


Who ever knew that I’d have a lot in common with a rat? Well, aside from having the nickname Ty-Rat as a child, I am a lot like Remy. Remy, a rat and the lead character in the children’s animated film Ratatouille and I both have highly developed senses of taste and smell. This enables us to taste something and recreate it. It also aids us in creating delicacies in the kitchen. Remy and I both spend hours pouring our hearts out into our pots. We both have a passion for food and enjoy blessing people by tantalizing the taste buds.


So here I pay homage to Remy. Thanks for the inspiration. I needed to do something with this eggplant and this spin on a classic came out just perfect.

And the kids love it too.




1 large vidalia onion diced

1 medium eggplant diced

1 red bell pepper chopped

1 medium zucchini diced

2 medium tomatoes diced, separated

1 chipotle pepper in adobo

4 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp Himalayan salt

tbsp olive oil

Blend garlic, chipotle pepper and half of the diced tomato in blender. Heat stockpot on medium. Add olive oil. When hot add onion and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add tomato mixture, all seasonings and cook additional 2 minutes. Add eggplant and peppers and cook additional 5-7 minutes. Lastly, add zucchini and tomato and cook an additional 5 minutes.

ratatouille close up 2

Can’t you almost taste it? Go ahead and get to cooking. Enjoy!

ratatouille full


ratatouille angle

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!


I’m Done With Labels

Omnivore. Vegetarian. Pescatarian. Raw. Vegan. Flexitarian.


I’m so OVER labels.


Today marks Day 10 of a 10-Day cleanse for me. Over the holidays I did a little more social eating than usual. I nibbled on food when I wasn’t really hungry just because I was in social gatherings where food was present. So to kick off the year, I wanted to reset my body and start the year clean and strong.


The 1st three days of the cleanse I consumed juices and smoothies exclusively and days 4-10 raw foods only. The last 7 days haven’t been drastically different than the way I normally eat. I usually have a green smoothie for breakfast and eat raw for lunch so at least half my day I generally consume raw foods. Does this mean I espouse a raw food diet for everyone? NO.


What I advocate and encourage for myself, my family and for everyone is to rethink your plate. Somewhere along the line we’ve been taught to think that our plate should look like a Swanson TV dinner tray; you know the one, divided into sections, the largest section with a big hunk of meat, a medium sized portion of starch and a small side of vegetables (and perhaps a dessert).

swanson tv dinner

Well even the government is acknowledging the old model isn’t working for the Western diet. They’ve done away with the old food pyramid and have introduced Choose My Plate. And finally, the vegetable portion is the largest section on the plate.

choose my plate

And that’s my urge to you. Increase your consumption of whole food plant-based items. Eat food that closely resembles what it looked like when it grew. Eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains and less processed, refined, packaged dead foods. Eating foods that still have life in them will contribute to giving life to your blood, muscles, and organs. You are a finely crafted machine and you need high-octane fuel to run on.

colorful salad

Would you put regular gas in your Porsche Carerra? NO! That high performance engine needs premium fuel and so do you. When you put inferior gas in a high performance car you can experience knocking. And that’s also what happens to the body when you put inferior, processed, highly refined foods in it. Your body ‘knocks’ suffering from disease, inflammation, aches, pains, irregularity in elimination, and more.


God wants you to eat of the good of the earth. From the earth, He provides you with what your body needs.


Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” Genesis 1:29

kale salad chickpeas

I pray you are INSPIRED to eat the bounty of the good of the earth. I encourage you to eat raw food at least once a day. When we heat our food to high temperatures we begin to kill essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes (though there are a few foods that benefit from heating).


I’m done with labels. When someone asks, “Are you a vegan?” I simply answer I eat mostly a plant based diet. Every now and again I do enjoy a slice of pizza and I’m not talking about a pizza with vegan Daiya cheese either. I’m talking about a slice of heavy, ooey gooey hot oily cheesy goodness.


I don’t care what you call yourself, just eat more of what’s good for you and less of what your body can’t recognize. When we consume highly processed and highly refined foods, our bodies don’t readily recognize them and as a result the body can react with inflammation, allergies, bloating and the like.


So what will you do today to honor your temple? There are plenty of things I like that do not honor my temple. I love Jax Cheese Curls, Macaroni and Cheese (my third favorite food behind popcorn and kale salad), Pizza and Ice Cream. But I have to make a decision to say YES to my health and NO to these items. As a rare treat I may indulge in one of those items.

2013-10-13 13.43.05

So here’s a start. Choose something on the Eat This to consume and something from the NOT THIS to get rid of. Or take one item that you normally eat and find out how you can prepare it in a different way that is lower in fat, lower in calories and retains more of the nutrients. One. Small. Step. At. A. Time.


Eat This

Apple w/ Almond Butter

Green Beans sautéed with fresh garlic

Baked Fish

Homemade salad dressings and sauces

Brown Rice, Quinoa

Maple syrup, Honey, Dates

Air Popped Organic Popcorn


Not This

Candy Bar

Green Beans cooked to their death in chicken broth

Fried Fish

Bottled salad dressings & sauces

White Rice

White Sugar

Potato Chips


Each moment of the day, we are presented with choice. I urge you to choose well.


I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. Deuteronomy 30:19


As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired to Live Fully!


Black Eyed Pea and Collard Stew


Originating in Africa many many years ago, black eyed peas have been eaten as a symbol of luck and prosperity.  That tradition continued in America with peoples of African descent. When combined with collard greens, you are doubly blessed.  The black eyed peas are said to represent coins and the collard greens dollars.  Though I’m not into doing things for good luck, I’m just compelled to whip up a batch of this stew.


This recipe was inspired by my friend, Dr. Celeste Owens.  True to Tyra style, I had to make it my own by adding smoky depth, some interesting spices and altering the base to create a stew that is warm and satisfying.  Pair with brown rice and cornbread for a hearty vegan meal.

collard stew 2


Black Eyed Pea and Collard Stew


1 bunch Collard Greens washed, deveined and chopped

1 Green Bell Pepper deseeded and diced

2 cups Cooked Black Eyed Peas

1/3 Olive Oil

1 large Onion diced

4 large cloves Garlic minced

1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tsp chili powder

½ tsp Smoked Paprika

½ tsp Berbere

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo

1 cup vegetable broth

1 14 oz can diced Tomatoes


Blend in blender tomatoes, garlic and chipotle pepper until smooth.   Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add onions and green pepper and sauté for 5-7 minutes.  Add tomato mixture and all spices and simmer for 5 minutes. Add collards and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add black eyed peas and cook for an additional 10 minutes so all flavor combine.

black eyed pea and collard stew 1

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!


Lentil Millet Loaf

Lentil Millet Loaf (GF, Vegan, Vegetarian)

Having a vegetarian or vegan over for Thanksgiving?   Make this classic vegan friendly dish.


Thinking of lentil loaf immediately brings to mind two things: a classic vegetarian dish and my sweet friend Kimberly to whom I was bonded forever when I made this for her during a time of bereavement. Kimberly this updated version is especially for you.


2 cups cooked lentils

1 cup cooked millet

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion diced

3 cloves garlic minced

1 rib celery diced

2 medium carrots peeled and diced

10 fresh sage leaves chiffonade

¼ tsp thyme

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tbsp ground chia seeds

3 tbsp water

1/3 cup raw cashews

Lentil loaf mix

Preheat oven 350. Toast over low heat in a dry pan the cashew until lightly brown. Let cool. Grind in a coffee grinder and set aside. Take ground chia, add water and whisk until thick. Set aside. In the same pan heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, garlic, celery and carrots for about 7 minutes until softened. In a large bowl combine lentils, millet, sautéed veggies, chia mixture, cashews and remaining seasonings and mix well. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

lentil loaf 2


Energy, Strength & Stamina: A Mother of 5 Reveals

Sitting across from Rae Lynn and Audra, I listened to the cacophony of chatter emanating from my peers; a bunch of 9th and 10th grade students maximizing on one of the free moments in the day, lunch time. In between the babble, they took bites of beefy macaroni as I nibbled on a tempeh sandwich. Needless to say, being an African-American vegan child in the 80’s & 90’s wasn’t so easy.

Thus were the early years on my health & wellness journey. My father has been a vegan since 1976. I was raised by my mother as a meat eater but went to live with my vegan father when I was 14. The transition was quite jarring. To go from ham, greens, and mac & cheese for Sunday dinner to brown rice, lentils and steamed broccoli: to go from a gallon of cow milk in the fridge regularly to homemade almond milk prepared freshly right before I left for school was a transition indeed. I was already ‘different’. My dad is Jamaican with floor length dread locks and I dressed differently. I wanted to be the social butterfly and be liked which led me to talk A LOT often brash and loud but really I was a bookworm. So the food was yet another thing that set me apart.

In college I did what many college females do, I gained weight. Coupled with the fact that my mother died suddenly two months into my freshman year in college, I ate late and ate lots of prepared foods, which I almost never did when at home with dad. And it was not until my early-twenties, suffering from hyperthyroidism, high cholesterol and weighing 178 lbs. that I realized I was far removed from the healthy, nourishing, plant based diet that I experience when with my dad. I expressed my concerns to my then boyfriend (now my husband) and he committed to helping me get my health under control. With his help, I learned to manage my thyroid disease, manage my cholesterol and lose weight by eating differently and exercising regularly.

After I became pregnant with my 1st child, the desire to nourish my body grew stronger. I wanted to provide the best conditions I could for the growing baby. I read and read and finally began to know and understand some of the food decisions my father made. I finally knew for myself why we had eaten bee pollen, umiboshi plums and miso soup.

For over ten years now, I have been on this amazing journey of health and wellness. In a year, I consume hundreds of books, articles, documentaries, demos and the like, teaching myself to honor my temple through proper nourishment, rest and exercise. While my name is Tyra, I’m no food tyrant. I simply seek to make choices that are God honoring and since He has taught me how to care for my temple, following through on that is the least I can do. Furthermore, His word says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Wednesdays here on the blog are Wellness Wednesdays. Each Wednesday, I will share a nugget with you that I have learned along my journey with the hope that you will be inspired to implement the suggestions so that you are living fully. And to live fully and feel alive, you must be intentional about caring for your temple. I want to come alongside you to inspire you as you walk out your journey of health and wellness. And the journey requires not only proper nourishment but also adequate rest and exercise and we will tackle all of these here on Wellness Wednesdays too. Thank you for allowing me to partner with you on your journey.

I look forward to sharing some of the best practices that have worked for me. Here are just a few that I’ve implemented which have helped me remain energetic, youthful, strong, and focused.

~ I eat whole, unprocessed, unrefined, plant based foods 85% of the time.
The other 15%…well, I give myself room for a little indulgence.

~I meal plan. Every other Sunday I sit down with my coupons, grocery list
and menu-planning sheet to create a plan for the next two weeks.

~I have a green smoothie for breakfast, a raw salad with some type of protein for lunch and a nutrient dense dinner almost everyday.

~I’ve nearly eliminated dairy from my diet. When I did I immediately noticed all mucus and sinus problems were gone…like instantly!

~I exercise at least 3 days a week. In my ideal world, I would go to Zumba or African dance but since that doesn’t fit into my schedule and family dynamic, I make use of my treadmill, on demand videos, YouTube videos and an occasional boot camp class when I can get there. I also keep my resistance bands in my car for impromptu working out.

These are just a few of the best practices that have enabled me to honor my temple, manage my weight and nourish not only myself but my family as well.

I look forward to our continued journey. So where are you on your health and wellness journey? Let me know because I want to support you.

As always it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully. If you’ve been inspired, please comment and share.


Tofu Lettuce Wraps


Kids like to eat things they can assemble.  It makes them feel part of the process.  Get your kids to eat their veggies by preparing these fun colorful lettuce wraps.

Tofu Lettuce Wraps

1 lb organic extra firm tofu drained

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup tamari or low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 clove garlic sliced

1 tbsp ginger

3 tbsp olive oil

Pre-heat oven 400.  Dice tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. place ingredients 2-8 in a medium sized bowl and whisk. Add the tofu and let marinate at least 4 hours, turning at least once.  I marinate mine overnight before I’m going to cook it.  After marinating, drain tofu.  Toss tofu in olive oil and bake for 30 minutes turning once in between until nice and brown.  Serve with sauteed diced peppers in a hearty leaf of lettuce.  In the picture we also had sesame brown rice.  Rice was prepared according to package directions then tossed with scallions, sesame seeds and 1 tsp sesame oil. Enjoy!