Thursday, August 18, 2011


I have learned so much on my journey towards freedom from food, and learning to love myself enough to eat what is best for my body, I wanted to spend a little time in reflection...

For me, vegan eating is slowly but surely becoming a lifestyle choice for me. No matter what form your healthy food journey takes, it has to start from the inside. No amount of outer motivation will work, really, I tried it all. There are plenty of reasons why we should all eat right, but until something clicks inside, it doesn't matter. I finally got tired of, well, feeling tired. I had no motivation left for anything. I depended on coffee to get me through the day. I started to look as bad outside as I felt inside. There was never any huge 'a-ha' moment, or lightbulb clicking on and suddenly I saw the light. One day I just decided that I had had enough, and was ready to get my life back on track, starting with food. I had been curious with the vegan lifestyle, and it intrigued me enough that I decided to give it a go. Why not start big, right? I decided to eat strictly vegan for one week. That week ended up being the breakthrough I needed, everything about it just clicked with me. 

I found a few vegan food bloggers and prepared all of my meals from their recipes, reviewing each one. Everything I thought about vegan eating was wrong. The range of foods you can have is so broad, that I honestly didn't miss the ones I couldn't have. Everything from enchiladas to pizza and even sorbet, nothing is off limits if you are willing to tweak ingredients and substitute for healthier options.

At the end of the week I had been expecting to want to gorge on all things meat and dairy, making up for the lack of it in my life. To my immense surprise (and pleasure), I found I didn't want anything to do with it, I just wanted to keep eating healthy! I felt so good about myself, I loved that feeling and wasn't willing to part with it. I had so much natural energy from eating the right kinds of foods that I never even reached for coffee! 
That ended up being the biggest lesson I have learned so far; you crave the foods you eat. By turning my back on packaged, processed, GMO laden foods and discovering how great I felt about not just what I was eating, but everything in general, I decided I didn't want to go back to those foods, they did nothing for me and I no longer wanted anything to do with them.

The biggest test for me was a few nights ago. I was having a rough and emotional couple of days, and by that evening all I wanted was a hot bath and some cookie dough. Or brownies. Something sugary and 'comforting'; foods I had always turned to before in an emotional time of need (the night my husband called to tell me he was going to be deployed, I baked and ate almost an entire pan of brownies. No lie). I went to the kitchen but stopped short. I actually really didn't want any of those things, I had been doing so well with my new food habits and didn't want to break them. I knew that I wouldn't feel better afterwords about anything, it would only serve to make me feel worse. So instead of stuffing my feelings down with cookies, I ate nothing and went to my room, choosing instead to confront and work through what was going on. It was the most freeing moment I have had in my journey thus far. 

Researching about the foods we consume has been a huge eye-opening experience for me. I am learning a lot about the benefits of eating gluten-free foods, why organic is best, and especially about GMO's and the toxicity they are in our bodies. As I learn more I will be sharing on this blog.

I am slowly becoming adapted to this lifestyle, I call it 'Vegan Lite'. I don't feel the need to give up all animal products forever, but on a day-to-day basis I am happy with choosing vegan. The more I learn and research about this, the more I know it is for me. And honestly? The thought of eating meat turns my stomach a little, who would have thought! I must admit that I haven't placed chicken into that same category yet, and have had it several times, but am committed to moving forward and slowly phasing out the worst and making room for the best.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To cheat or not to cheat...with food ;)

Breakfast was another Green Monster. Tomorrow I try it with blueberries!

For lunch I...cheated, eek! My mom and I went to Panera Bread and I ordered the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich and Asian Sesame Salad. If it weren't for the feta on the sandwich and chicken on the salad I would have been golden. Even though I cheated, I don't feel too bad about it, I still had an overall healthful meal, and I don't intend to cut out all animal products for the rest of my life. On a day-to-day basis sure, but every once in awhile, I'm ok with it. And it was so good. :)

I was on my own for dinner tonight, and didn't feel like cooking an entire meal, so I made two Crack Wraps (what a name!) using two different kinds of tortillas. I ended up making the trek aaaaaallll the way to Whole Foods specifically for spelt tortillas, I used them last time when I made enchiladas and no one knew they weren't normal tortillas until I told them! Of course the Whole Foods I went to this time didn't have them (of course!) but I did find tempeh bacon (to be discussed tomorrow), which I couldn't find anywhere else. I went next door to Trader Joe's (favorite grocery store ever!) to see if they had a better selection, and wouldn't you know it, spelt tortillas! They looked different than the other ones I used, but were just as delicious! So I made one wrap using spelt, and the other a brown rice tortilla. Both were totally edible (I know they don't really sound like it!) and had their own distinct texture and taste, so good! The brown rice wraps are gluten-free as well, I like to get gluten-free products when I can, an easy way for a better-for-you food item. In the wrap was simply hummus and vegan cheese. Wrap it up, grill it, eat it! It was so simple, and surprisingly satisfying, exactly what I was looking for in dinner tonight. I was so skeptical about vegan anything-dairy but times, and technology, have changed, and vegan cheese is comparable to dairy cheese, in my opinion. The selection is limited of course, but the companies producing these products do it well. 
I really need to come up with an appropriate way to end my posts...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A little bit Green Monster

This was my breakfast. No joke. I had heard of the Green Monster Movement but was seriously skeptical; how on earth could blended spinach possibly taste good? It was like, too much health for me! I couldn't stop thinking about it though, it was intriguing and honestly a little disgusting sounding, and just like, waaay too healthy, a girl has her limits. 
Until now. 
Curiosity got the best of me and I finally worked up the courage to try spinach and fruit in liquid form. It was...not bad! I fully made it expecting to dump it all out, but instead I drank the entire glass!!

With a basic recipe like this, even the harshest of skeptics can be won over! I would like a membership to the Green Monster fan for life club please! (Did I really just say that? :)

Lunch was leftover tofu from yesterday. Man that I could that stuff everyday, it is so good! 

Tonights theme was Mexican food! I made Chickpea Tacos, Spanish Quinoa, polenta chips (I came up with this one on my own!) and Fire-Roasted Salsa (from cookbook).

After we all finished eating, my family said that it was so good they would have it again! Score! The chickpeas were an interesting (and healthful!) twist on traditional tacos, but made perfect sense, when roasted with a combination of spices, took on the flavor of taco meat and held their own with substance, they definitely have a meaty texture and were just wonderful! I used Veggie Shreds for the cheese, a non-dairy vegan cheese, and was pleasantly surprised! The texture was the same, and my family didn't even know it wasn't real cheese until I told them! The Spanish Quinoa was so good, it tasted exactly like spanish rice, but better! The Fire-Roasted Salsa was a snap to put together, and so tasty that my dad tried hoarding the bowl at the dinner table, lol! The polenta chips were my own design, and were a good first attempt, but definitely need a little tweaking. I sliced a tube of organic polenta into thin slices and put them on a cooling rack I put over a cookie sheet and baked them at 450 for 30 minutes. They definitely needed a higher temp to get truly crispy like chips, but seasoned with nothing but a little salt made them delicious, and addicting like chips are! Overall this was one of my most successful meals! 
Until tomorrow...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vegan Week Part 2!

I had so much fun during my vegan week challenge a few weeks ago, that I have decided to do it again! I learned so much about the foods we put into our bodies and what they do (or don't do) for us, and so much about new foods I didn't know about before. 
This weeks recipes come from another food blogger, Sarah Matheny. I discovered her website, Peas and Thank You, only recently, but am already loving it! I went to Borders yesterday (I was trying to wait for the next set of markdowns before getting in there, but couldn't wait any longer!) hoping to find some treasures, and I did! As I made my way to the cookbook section, I perused over to the vegetarian/vegan shelfs and found, there on the very bottom shelf, all alone laying face-up, the brand new cookbook Peas and Thank You! I'm not kidding, this cookbook just came out a few weeks ago! I snatched that baby up so fast, and nabbed the last copy! And with the Border's close-out markdown, it was a serious score! I couldn't wait to get home and dig in; in a matter of minutes I had a weekly menu planned out and a grocery list ready to go! Thanks to my previous vegan week, the pantry is pretty well-stocked with the staples, so this list was mostly produce, a fraction of the cost of last time!
Due to a little too much Sangria last night (is there even such a thing as too much Sangria? :), I went to bed last night forgetting to make my overnight oats. A bowl of Cheerios and soy milk did me just fine, however. Simple, that's how I like it in the morning.

Lunch was tofu...don't go running for the hills just yet! This recipe can make a tofu lover of even the harshest critics! One day last week I was craving some good tofu (it's true), and found a dee-licious recipe! It has been such a hit, I've made it three times and yesterday my mom requested I make a triple batch! It is so simple to make: Slice a block of tofu into fourths, wrap in paper towels and weigh down, allowing the water to press out, anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours. Combine marinade in a pot and bring to boil and reduce to simmer until ready. Combine 1/2 c. water, 1/4 c. red wine vinegar, 1/4 c. Tamari (Tamari is similar to soy sauce, it has a deeper flavor but is more healthful, it is both wheat and gluten free), scant 2 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (I think coconut oil would work well here too, to boost the health factor), 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar or mirin, 1/2 tsp. each oregano and cloves, 1 tbsp. sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. I added red pepper flakes to mine, I like things spicy! Place tofu and marinade in a shallow dish or bowl, cover and let sit in fridge overnight, stir occasionally. In the morning grill it up, and slice into cubes. I added cilantro and peanuts, and a little reserved marinade back in (just enough to coat, you don't want it swimming) and refrigerate until ready to eat. So simple, so good! I had seconds...and thirds. And by the way, Fresh and Easy has the cheapest tofu I have found, 98 cents! Delicious AND easy on the budget, double win!

I've loved Larabars for a long time, and stocked up on them today as they were on sale. These treats taste indulgent, but are one of the healthiest products on the market, and leave all other protein/energy bars in the dust: every bar is gluten-free, vegan, raw, kosher, low carb (carbs that come from natural fruits and nuts only, I'll take those carbs!) and contain no colorings, additives or preservatives. How they manage to do all of that and still produce a quality product is beyond me, but I am so glad! They actually are the best tasting energy bar out there, in my humble opinion. While I found them on sale today and am happily munching away on one as a snack while I write this, they aren't always budget-friendly, so you can make your own! Oh She Glows has several recipes for the different flavors; each with only a few ingredients, each one so tasty! I would really like to try my hand at making them myself one of these days, if I do I'll let you know how they turn out!

Thai food was on the menu tonight! I LOVE Thai food. It's probably my favorite ethnic food ever, I could eat it every night of the week! I usually refuse to cook anything strongly ethnic (I also adore Indian food but will not ever make it myself, how could I possibly compete with the professionals at my favorite restaurant??), but the recipes and accompanying photos were drool-worthy, so I decided to give it a go...

 Dinner was Seitan Lettuce Wraps and Thai Crunch Salad (from the Peas and Thank You cookbook). The lettuce wraps were almost ridiculously simple to prepare, it took mere minutes! Seitan is a meatless...meat-like...thing. Lol. I guess it's kind of like tofu, but more substantial. I'm actually not entirely sure that I used the right product, but wasn't willing to make the trek to Whole Foods to be certain I got the right product (they always have the name brand or exact product I'm looking for, too bad it's so far away!). Anyway, 

Seitan? Who knows, but it was for dinner in the form of lettuce wraps, and it was actually good! I combined it with chopped water chestnuts and mushrooms in a pan, and added a sauce of Tamari, brown sugar, garlic salt and pepper, and sauteed until done, yum!
The Thai Crunch Salad was so good, but would have made a better lunch than dinner. The crunchy cabbage and carrots and peanuts contrasted nicely with the creamy edamame and Lime Ginger Dressing, it was made with almond butter and again, seemed so rich but was really so light! 
Dessert went out the window when my hubby called halfway through dinner. :) Nothing stops me from Skyping with my love when he's halfway around the world!

Overall, a great start to the week, can't wait for tomorrow!