Kicking off May with this nutritious goodness before heading to work.
Courtesy of my Vitamix.
7 Weeks in. Still going strong. Meat cravings have been on the rise, however. Driving home from work the other day I was this close to going to my old wings place. The only thing that stopped me was imagining the suffering of those exploited and tortured chickens. Came home and ate my mac ‘n cheese instead. Yesterday I was overcome with an intense desire to consume lobster tail with lots of butter and fresh lemon juice. Today, I was nearly seduced by the wafting odor of grilled meat from a restaurant while on my way to an Indian spot for lunch. I held firm and stuck to a vegetarian dish, though I did break down and eat copious amounts of naan. Cheese naan. Yum. I also passed out afterwards. It was the most wheat I’ve had since I started this transition. Body couldn’t handle it..
In other news, I’ve tried to get Zora on board by introducing raw cat food (lamb to be precise) into her diet. I try to sweeten the pot by stirring in some Kit ‘n Kaboodle, her favorite go-to-junkfood. She’s very, very skeptical so far. But she’s nibbling. Progress!
Anyway, here’s the game plan I’ve been working with this week:
- Brussels sprouts, grilled onions & tomatoes in peanut sauce over red quinoa
- Kale, candied carrots & cranberries over red quinoa
- Mac ‘n cheese with broccoli or kale
- Gluten free penne pasta with black olive tomato sauce
- Butternut squash soup
- Carrot/broccoli slaw w/ sweet potato pancakes & spicy Korean sauce
- Eggplant “cheeseburger” w/ extra pickles, vegan mayo, ketchup & mustard, gluten free bread
- BBQ eggplant burger w/ grilled onions, gluten free bread
- Miso soup w/ gluten free penne & cilantro
- Cream of broccoli soup
- Fresh Guacamole & gluten free tortilla chips
- Cherry kefir
- Banana nut muffins
- Cranberry nut muffins
- Banana ice cream
- Green smoothies (some variation of kale, broccoli, banana, apple, mint)
- Fresh ginger root tea
- Fresh mint tea
The first time I visited my town’s gluten free, mostly vegan bakery, I had no idea I was visiting a gluten free, mostly vegan bakery. I just saw “baked goods” and wandered in, looking for something sweet and delectable. As I perused the menu peppered with “gluten free” this and “vegan” that, I was overcome with a mild sense of disgust. This was not a real bakery. The healthier the food sounded, the less I wanted to eat it. I left without getting anything.
The second time I stopped by was with a friend. He had a hankering for something sweet, saw the bakery and asked if we could pick up something. I reluctantly agreed. When he realized how healthy everything was, he, too, turned up his nose. “I tried to tell you,” I said, shaking my head as we left. Again, I left this bakery empty handed. We ended up going to a swanky bar for cheesecake instead.
The third time I visited the bakery was last week. Having settled quite comfortably into my relatively new veganish, gluten-freeish lifestyle, I was eager to actually taste their offerings. I picked up an apple strudel muffin and a banana nut muffin. The former was divine, the latter was meh.
The fourth time I visited the bakery was yesterday. They had one of those apple muffins left. It was so good, I could have cried. It also realized that I would really shed hot, bitter tears if I had to pay 3-4 dollars every time I wanted a vegan, gluten free muffin. And so it was that I decided to try my hand at egg-less, milk-less, wheat-less baking.
I gave some thought to replicating the apple strudel muffin but that seemed too complicated. So, instead, I decided to try out something I’ve successfully executed before: banana nut muffins.
For this adventure, I used a recipe from Namely Marley, a cool food blog. I had to buy a few new staples to add to my growing vegan/gluten free pantry: vegan flour (I got white rice, though brown rice probably would have been a better choice) and egg-replacer, just in case – even though the recipe did not call for it.
I don’t really like following recipies, as you may have noticed, and I did not follow Marley’s very well. Instead of using margarine, I used coconut oil. I must have mismeasured something, though, because the first batch came out looking rather homely. They weren’t rising. And they kind of had that “blah” taste than the bakery’s banana nut muffins had. So, I added a tablespoon of “egg replacer” to the batter along with some ground cinnamon and ginger. The second batch was *awesome*! For these, I also added a topping, for which I used coconut and agave in addition to brown sugar. My graduate students will be sampling these in our seminar tomorrow.
I finally decided that the first batch was *awesome* too, because it has less sugar/agave and will be my go-to healthier snack this week. It also makes a pretty good delivery system for a dollop of almond butter.
Oh, and between you and me, my muffins turned out to be a lot better than the bakery’s. A lot. *dusts shoulders off*
I’ve been plotting on this meal all week and finally tried it out today. On my last trip to the market, I bought fresh kale and pre-packaged polenta for the first time and I’ve really enjoyed their variety and yumminess.
In Lieu of a Recipe:
I made the tomato/onion sauce in the Vitamix a few days ago and froze it. This morning I thawed it out, poured it into a small sauce pan and added a handful of shiitake mushrooms. I also added a teaspoon of agave syrup, a few capers and squeezed in a touch of fresh lemon juice.
While that was simmering, I massaged a big bunch of kale and sautéed it with a pinch of sea salt in a generous amount of EVOO. Then I added four slices of Roma tomato, which I sprinkled with basil.
In a small pan, I sautéed four slices of polenta in even more EVOO. (This is certainly not a low fat recipe). I then added the kale to the polenta and sprinkled it all with freshly ground black pepper. I left the slices of Roma tomato in the stir fry pan, but turned off the eye.
Meanwhile, I emptied my stove (which I generally use for storage) and set the broiler to low. I sprinkled the kale/polenta mix with 1/3 cup of Daiya vegan cheddar. I put the small pan in the oven and let it broil for about 5 min, until the tomatoes were a touch crispy and the cheese was bubbly.
To plate it up, I put a few spoonfuls of the sauce down first, then layered the polenta/kale/cheese mix, alternating with more sauce. Finally I garnished this delectable dish with the grilled tomatoes, capers and basil.
Words cannot describe how amazing this was. And it’s gluten free/vegan!
So, the spirit moved me to get a Vitamix this week. In addition to some pretty awesome sauces and smoothies, I’ve also made soup!
This carrot apple tangelo soup started out as Vitamixtake. I wanted to make a smoothie or a juice but I didn’t add enough water. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe I used two apples, one tangelo and 2-3 carrots. It’s been a few days and my memory is hazy. Anyway, When all was said and done, my “juice” had the consistency of soup. Disappointed, but undaunted, I set it aside in the fridge and decided I would eat it later in the week.
Well, later arrived today. The first task was to tone down the sweetness. I blended the soup with about a 1/4 cup of vegan Daiya cheddar, which darkened the color and made the taste more savory. I took a handful of kale and massaged it to soften the texture. Then, I sautéed the kale in EVOO with three slices of Food Merchant’s polenta, fresh garlic, 1/4 cup red onions and shiitake mushrooms. Meanwhile, I transferred the soup from the Vitamix to a pot on medium heat and added sea salt and nutmeg. When the veggies were done, I added them to the soup.
For the toast, I grilled two slices of gluten free bread in EVOO, sliced them diagonally and arranged in the gorgeous soup. Ground some fresh black pepper over the dish and voila! An incredible, vegan lunch.
Dessert was a peach, apple, ginger smoothie, also made with the Vitamix.. Yum!
So, one of the most exciting things going on in my life these days has been a pretty radical lifestyle change. A month ago, I was sick. In the stupor of this illness, I realized my fridge was bare and that I’d need provisions to recover. Around this time, I also discovered that many of the folks I correspond with on Twitter — academics, nondual types, spiritually minded folks — are also into vegan and raw foods. They made suggestions for things I should add to my grocery cart. People started sharing meal ideas, recipes, books, vegan websites and even documentaries. For reasons I cannot account for, I was particularly open to these suggestions and approached it all with a great deal of enthusiasm.
First, let me explain how I was living (and eating) prior to this lifestyle change. I was drinking 2, 3 sometimes 4 cups of coffee a day (frighteningly easy to do with a Keurig machine). I had not been sleeping well for months and I was feeling very lethargic – something that’s pretty unusual for me. I had a persistent headache and I had put on about 10 lbs in the last quarter of 2012. My meals were heavy in protein and carbs. I love meat, cheese and bread — preferably French. A typical jaunt to the grocery store would have me buying ciabatta baguettes, steak, chicken, creamer (for my coffee), some exotic, expensive cheese. The only vegetables I liked buying were bok choy, brussels sprouts and cabbage. My staple meals were pasta, fajitas, Asian stirfry dishes and the like.
I thought my choices were relatively healthy because I selected whole wheat products, organic produce and grass-fed meat and dairy. I tried to match equal portions of protein and carbs in my meals, following a habit I picked up from past forays into Bill Phillip’s “Body for Life” program. But otherwise, I didn’t follow any rules. I ate whatever I wanted. And I often felt like passing out after those meals. I associated such feelings – being bloated and tired – with satiation. I didn’t know that another way was possible.
In any case, a month ago I decided to tip-toe into a veganish, raw-ish lifestyle. At first, I said I would do it just for a few days – until I got over my cold. Then I extended it for a week, then another week.. and suddenly a month had passed. In the interim, I’ve lost about 12 lbs – effortlessly.
Here’s an overview of the changes I’ve made. In parentheses is the percent of the time I follow these guidelines on a daily basis:
- Replaced coffee with alternative drinks like hot lemon water and ginger root tea (100%)
- Cut out all meat and seafood (100%)
- Cut out all wheat (95%)
- Replaced dairy with vegan products (90%)
- Introduced raw meals and juices (100%)
- Introduced gluten free products (100%)
- Replaced sugar with honey and agave (97%)
- Added superfoods green drinks (50%)
- Finally started taking the vitamin supplements that had been sitting idly on top of my fridge (95%)
Other than meat, dairy and most gluten products, I can eat whatever I want. When I tell folks this, most of them snark “But there’s nothing left!” Oh, but that’s a myth! There is LOTS and lots of food I can and do eat. I’m having so much fun with discovering new, delicious recipes. I do not feel like I’m on a diet. I am often full and nurture myself with hearty meals. I feel free to do whatever I want (and this sense of liberty is important to me). If there are donuts at a meeting, I will have a bite. But overall, I find myself naturally choosing to make healthier decisions – not because I want to lose weight or reach a certain goal – but because my body feels better when I feed it with raw, vegan, gluten free goodies.
Not all of my meals have turned out well. The whole guacamole-over-cabbage idea was certainly a mistake. But for the most part, I have found it easy and exciting to come up with creative, delicious and nourishing things to eat.
Side effects of this new lifestyle:
- I feel GREAT!
- Natural detoxification
- I’m sleeping better. I wake up early, without the need for an alarm. I have more energy.
- The headaches are gone.
- My digestion is great.
- After meals, I feel energized and happy. No more lethargy or bloat.
- My body is naturally losing weight
- My appetite is decreasing
- My eyesight seems to be improving
- Pain and tension in my neck and shoulders has decreased
Things I typically buy now:
- LEMONS! Can’t get enough
- Almond butter
- Daiya vegan cheese (a revelation.. absolutely incredible)
- Lifeway probiotic kefir
- Boston lettuce (for lettuce wraps)
- Gluten free bread
- Gluten free pasta
- Vegan / gluten free sauces
- Almond milk
New information I’m learning about myself:
- I don’t like salads, but I love lettuce wraps
- I like cooking some vegetables, so a completely raw lifestyle is not for me
- I feel more energetic now that I’ve cut out coffee
- Hot lemon water – or just hot water itself – is very internally soothing
- I love the taste of lemon juice on just about anything
- A sprinkle of “real” cheese or a serving of 99% lactose free kefir agrees with me, but any substantial serving of dairy upsets my stomach
- I absolutely love eating (and making) fresh guacamole
- I’ve learned that giving up meat is relatively easy, because I’m such a condiment girl. If I have the right spices and sauces, I’m good to go.
Staple meals and snacks for me now include:
- Lettuce wraps
- Vegan cakes
- Raw juice (especially apple, carrot, ginger)
- Raw chocolate
- Nut crackers
- Gluten free pasta with vegan cheese
- Spinach sauteed with garlic and grilled onions (I actually eat this for breakfast sometimes)
- Eggplant burgers (Dominex brand.. incredibly good, and a nice gluten free alternative to veggie burgers)
In terms of fast food, I find myself attracted to Thai and Japanese takeout. I’ll get vegetarian sushi (I’ve just discovered sweet potato tempura.. amazing!), dumplings or vegetarian pad thai.
For now, I don’t have any grand goal, but my plan is to pretty much stick to this for the time being. I’m sure I’ll have meat again one day, but that day is not to day.
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
– 1 lb. of ground beef (grass fed, organic)
– 1 can of black beans
– Tortilla chips
– 2 ripe plantains
– Jalepeno peppers
– Crushed habaneros
– Shredded mexican cheese
– Pico de Gallo salsa
– Sour cream
– One small can of black olives
– 1/2 lime
– Romaine lettuce
– Taco seasoning
– Salt, pepper to taste
– Olive oil
1. Set stove to medium. Coat saucepan with 1/2 inch of olive oil.
2. Slice and fry plantains. Be sure to turn plantains frequently. Remove from heat when golden brown. Drain on paper towel and cover with foil.
3. Cook ground beef and sauté with taco seasoning, salt, pepper and habaneros.
4. Prepare taco salad with two handfuls of romaine lettuce. Layer with cheese, beans, tortilla chips, peppers, black olives, salsa, sour cream. Garish with lime juice.
Fresh ravioli with prosciutto, spinach & gorgonzola in a light butter sauce
Cooking time: 20 minutes
1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil
2. Add fresh ravioli and bring to boil again until done
3. Drizzle EVOO in a saucepan with minced garlic
4. Drop two handfuls of fresh baby spinach into saucepan, along with two pinches of salt. Cook until wilted (about 2 minutes) and remove from heat
5. Drain ravioli. Add pasta to a saucepan (cooking on low heat) with spinach, two tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with gorgonzola, prosciutto, pepper and spices to taste