Only four more days left in my “Vegan Challenge” and I have to confess something: I ate a bite of fish last week. I don’t know what was going on with my metabolism but last week was extremely challenging due to my unquenchable appetite. I was feeling constantly hungry! It was very strange because I felt nothing like that the first two weeks of the challenge. Actually, the first two weeks seemed effortless and easy. The third week? Not so much. Hence, the bite of fish…….It just looked so good!
Other than that incident (and my birthday dessert eating) I’ve been pretty solid. But I’d by lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve started having fantasies about the much revered spinach-artichoke cheese dip I’d like to sink my teeth into the day after my challenge ends.
So here I am in the last week. I’m feeling good and not as hungry as I was last week. I’m actually starting to really like the Daya cheese, particularly as a melted grilled cheese sandwich. I also tried it on a pizza and it was yummy! I still love tempeh, although tofu is starting to piss me off a bit. I did make a tofu cream sauce in the first week that was pretty damn good though.
I think cheese has been the one thing I’m most challenged by. The other night I made a vegan queso in hopes of capturing some of that yummy cheeziness I’ve been missing. The recipe basically involved flour, nutritional yeast and some spices. I went ahead and added chopped onion, some salsa and a can of black beans. It was kinda good the night I made it but barely good the next day. In its defense, however, It did have the texture and consistency of real queso. That helped. One thing this Challenge has helped me realize is how important a role texture plays in our eating experience. Having the right texture helps a lot.
More commentary coming later in the week (after I complete my Vegan Challenge).
Well, here I am at Day 12 of my vegan challenge. There have been some moments. One of those moments was when we went out with friends for dinner on my birthday. There were not many vegan options. I ended up getting a butternut squash and veggie dish which, by the way, cost $20.00! Huh?
When time for dessert rolled around, I decided I would take a small break from my challenge in honor of my birthday and have whatever dessert I wanted. So I guess, technically, I’ve cheated. Oh well. It was my birthday, damnit.
There was one other slip-up earlier in the week. I was making veggie tostadas with refried black beans and Morningstar meat substitute crumbles. Turns out, they contain egg AND milk. Of course, I didn’t read the label until I had already prepared the meal. To be honest, I’m not very impressed with the Morningstar brand. I used to buy their buffalo non-meat chicken tenders until I actually looked at the label on it. In addition to containing egg and milk, there’s also this stuff:
Last night we had some friends over for a Vegan potluck. I made some delicious maple-garlic glazed tempeh meatballs and sweet potato fries. For dipping the fries, I also made some super easy cashew cream. We also had a beet, carrot, garbanzo and avocado salad and corkscrew pasta. It was all yummy!
I must share the birthday card my husband gave me from my two-year old. I think the front photo says it all:
Yes, toddler-care has given me a whole new appreciation for wine and mothers of twins.
So, today a friend and I started the 30-Day Vegan Challenge. I thought it would be a good idea to document the next thirty days here as a “journal” of this experience.
The idea of going vegetarian has been something percolating in my brain for years but I never really found the determination to go all out with it. I’ve never been a huge meat-eater and would cook around 3-4 veggie dinners a week. Honestly, I’ve never enjoyed cooking with meat, particularly chicken. Vegan was something I never really considered until this last year as I began to slowly educate myself about my food choices. Even still, going “vegan” always seemed like such a radical idea to me. For me, the thought of living without cheese was inconceivable!
Then I had a good friend introduce me to the challenge. This, along with other factors I won’t go into right now, convinced me that going vegan for 30 days is absolutely do-able!
So, here is what I ate (and discovered) on my first day of getting all vegany:
Breakfast: oatmeal the real deal. Not the instant stuff. I usually eat oatmeal cooked with soy milk for breakfast anyway so this was not a change for me at all. My big worry for mornings was the half and half I usually put in my coffee. Coffee in the morning is non-negotiable-I must have it. I had tried soy milk creamers in the past and found them leaving much to be desired, so I was a little worried. But! I discovered that coconut milk creamers works great and I don’t even miss the half and half. Yep. It’s that good as a dairy creamer replacement. Phew! Lunch: toasted tostada with refried black beans, topped with tomato, avocado, non-dairy cheese and salsa verde. A word about non-dairy cheese: this was my first time trying not-cheese. I went with a brand recommendation from my vegan friend and bought “daiya” cheddar style wedge (“deliciously dairy free”, according to the front of the package). It wasn’t terrible and it does melt well, giving it a very similar texture to the real thing but I would recommend using it sparingly on food. This is kinda weird but the taste actually reminded me of Cheese Whiz or that crappy cheese they put on nachos at the movie theatres. I checked out the ingredients in the daiya “cheese” and they seemed innocuous enough. That got me wondering what exactly is in Cheese Whiz? Turns out, my not-cheese and Cheese Whiz share at least one ingredient: annatto. This is a plant used for coloration. Does it also influence the taste? Hmm… Dinner: Poblano-stuffed peppers with salad. The stuffing included short-grain organic brown rice, corn, black beans, soyrizo, sautéed onions and garlic. The stuffing was great but the poblano peppers were HOT. In fact, they were too hot for me to eat so I just ate the stuffing. It’s really interesting what you find when you start reading labels. I went and grabbed my balsamic vinaigrette dressing for my salad and decide to double-check the ingredients label. Turns out “Cucina Antica’s” balsamic dressing contains milk. Would have never guessed.
So there it is- my first eating day as a vegan. It wasn’t too difficult and I’m beginning to think the lack of cheese won’t be as hard as I thought. Although, it did take some concerted effort not to graze on the cheese I was grating for my husband’s and stepson’s peppers. It just comes so naturally!
I know the timing is awful, being your”Appreciation Day” and everything, but I just don’t think I can continue our relationship any longer.
It’s not you, it’s me. Wait, that’s not true. It is you. Oh, how I will fiercely miss your warm, just the right amount of salty, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside waffle fries dipped in your Polynesian sauce. I will always remember the day I discovered that taste explosion.
The thing is I cannot continue to give you money when I now know you give some of your profits to homophobic groups actively working to discriminate against people. It’s doesn’t take a belief in Jesus to know that’s wrong.
And, honestly at this point, I don’t think I would be able to get over this:
So, hear I sit in my office cubby waiting for inspiration to strike.
I’ve got nothing……..
Nontheless, a promise is a promise.
When in doubt, turn to the 80’s. I gotta say, I loved spending my teenage years in this decade. Yes, the music was fantastically cheesy, as were the styles, for the most part. But there’s something joyous about 80’s cheese.
I don’t know what kind of a day you’re having but I wanted to share a music video with those of you feeling a bit on the downside today.
I absolutely adore this video. I don’t know how much of it is scripted (obviously, some of it was) but it does seem to capture some candid moments with random strangers. And so interesting to see the different angles of human nature revealed in such a simple gesture- a stranger asking for a hug. You see people’s different reactions of hesitation, fear, refusal and even some resorting to violence. But you also see many people reacting warmly, responding with a returned hug. Yes, this could have been the art of editing but I would like to think I’m less cynical than that.
I wonder, had it been me, how would I have reacted to a surly stranger approaching me and asking for a hug? Something to think about…..
Regardless, this video is a nice reminder that there are good people out there despite all the badness in the world. Helping our fellow humans, even with small gestures- that’s what it’s all about.
Have a beautiful day.
(PS-This video gets additional awesome points for starring the guy from “30 Rock!”)
You know, I wasn’t really planning on delving too deeply into the “island of misfit toys” that are the GOP presidential candidates, but their WTF-ery has now made that impossible.
Besides, writing about it may aid in the healing process.
Have I inadvertently landed myself into Bizarro World?
(Queue the latest Rick Santorum ad Campaign, entitled “Obamaville”):
Granted they must have a top-notch team producing this sleek campaign. The images are evocative, albeit some bordering on subliminal. And it musta cost a fortune to hire that movie trailers guy for the narration.
But I can’t help but find it humorous that this vision of our future, this “cautionary tale” , as they put it, is set in the bleak, desolate future time of…….. 2014.
Um, that’s only two years from now, guys. Are we really supposed to swallow that this over the top, melodramatic, Orwellian vision of the USA is a mere two years away? Nothing like a little manipulative fear mongering to get you to vote for the *right* guy. And they pretty much hit on all the hot spots, didn’t they? Let’s see: Iran, impending nuclear war, gas prices, economy, job losses, religion’s demise, medical care, etc, etc… There was only one thing missing from that montage of fear.
My favorite fiercely ironic moment was when they showed a close-up of a candle being blown out as the narration declares, “freedom of religion under attack.” I can only cringe at what Rick Santorum’s vision for America must be.
Many of you are familiar, and maybe even diehard fans of the main character of the Big Lebowski known simply as “The Dude”. But did you know there has been a religion created around him? Welcome to Dudeism!
“Come join the slowest-growing religion in the world – Dudeism. An ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness, practices as little as possible, and above all, uh…lost my train of thought there. Anyway, if you’d like to find peace on earth and goodwill, man, we’ll help you get started. Right after a little nap.”
Added bonus: no deity worship requirement. Finally! A religion I can support.
You can even be ordained as a Dudeist priest for free. Not sure what that entitles you to but it sounds pretty cool.
Here is a quote from their “Take It Easy Manifesto:
“THERE’S A RELIGION for its time and place…It fits right in there, helps us abide through all the strikes and gutters, the ups and downs of the whole durned human comedy. It really ties your life together. And the religion for our time and place is Dudeism.”
Oh, if only all organized religions could be so easygoing…….
So, the boy and I were at our local library for the weekly baby storytime that he really enjoys. As we waited for the story to begin, I noticed one of the babies (probably about 6 months old, although I’m notoriously bad at assessing baby ages) had on a necklace. I just assumed it was a fashion accessory Mom had chosen for her little boy.