Sunday, March 25, 2012

Update of my veggification

Alrighty, so it's been about four weeks of my more-or-less vegan adventure. I've had meat about four times in the last few weeks and a few cheesy cheats. Other than that, I'm doing alright. No crazy cravings, no terrible "I'm missing out on EVERYTHING" feelings. I've been having a good time expanding my cooking repertoire and discovering new ingredients. Eric has been such a good sport through it all. It helps that, with his new schedule, he gets plenty of meat and cheese at the firehouse, so he doesn't quite mind skipping out on it at home. Although there have been a few nights when he just looks at me, and I know the poor guy's still hungry. It baffles me, but then again, I'm pretty used to the new meal plan by now. My newest challenge for myself is to find plenty of recipes that I can make vegan and normal without too much extra time (or extra dirty dishes. *cough* lazy.)

So on this winding road of change and challenge, I thought I'd share a few discoveries I have made:

1. No two ways about it, I don't like tofu. It's official. Not my fave.
Ok, now it's out there. Glad to get that off my chest. I've tried multiple recipes in the past few weeks that have brought me to this conclusion. Tempeh (a combo of soybeans, brown rice and millet), however, big fan. Makes very yummy tacos.

2. It is possible to eat, what I'll call "technically vegan" and have a horrible diet. Maybe that's obvious, but I just figured it out. I'm pretty sure a lot of high schoolers are ;) Most sodas, Fritos, Jolly Ranchers--technically vegan. Who knew? Not me. I figured this out after making a one time mistake of buying TJ's corn chips as a treat, cuz "hey, they're vegan." Yeah, won't be doing that again anytime soon. Also butter-less kettlecorn. I bought a delicious bag of it the other day. I destroyed it in one night. Problem--yes. Haha, oh what an interesting time this has been :)So let it be known--even vegans have their "only once in a while" vices.

3. Eating out. Where to start. This will have to be a two part-er. I've found that eating vegan has forced me to prepare. Lots of ahead of time reading of menus online to avoid being self conscious while ordering (I have a phobia of being "that girl," whatever that means). We went to the Yardhouse for my brother-in-law's birthday last weekend and I'd had my pasta dish planned out to order a week in advance. I mean, at least it was something to look forward to, which is cool...right? Anyways, while I was at it, I went ahead and looked up the menus of several restaurants that Eric and I usually go to with friends which brings me too...

3B. My cheat sheet. Chipotle--totally vegan friendly and delicious. Veggie bowl, skip the animal products, pile on the guacamole and you're good to go. Jersey Mikes--a veggie sandwich, no cheese, Mike's way. They might look at you like you're crazy, but trust me it's delicious! Elephant bar had a veggie stir fry bowl as does Lazy Dog. And when all else fails, pretty much everywhere offers a pasta w/ marinara dish. It can be a tad annoying, but it works out. And online menus are a lifesaver :)

4. I have a super patient husband. He's been a very understanding and supportive pal through it all and this is a lot coming from my steak and potatoes man. I made him a homemade veggie burger and he smiled and complemented the flavor. I tried a new meatless pasta, he couldn't wait to try it. Dinner didn't quite fill him up and he shrugged it off and poured a bowl of cereal--this has happened multiple times. What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man.

5. Chef Chloe Coscarelli's cookbook, Chloe's Kitchen. Nuff said.

6. My new junk food occasional indulgences(don't judge)--TJ's has vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies AND animal crackers. I KNOW. Meatless corndogs and orange 'chicken' are also good finds. Soy ice cream and yogurt nom, nom, nom. Never thought I'd have once-a-week treats as a vegan.

7. I cooked chicken today and it made me nauseous. Never saw that coming. I honestly decided to try vegan more for health reasons than ethical. I used to cook chicken all the time and it never bothered me. But today while prepping chicken for Eric's tacos, I saw the veins. Never got to me before. Maybe it's just been a while. Strange.

8. I have decidedly not lost my taste for sushi. I am okay with that. We go about twice a month. I think there are worse indulgences I could choose.

Well, I think I've gone on enough. That's the latest update!
Still loving the (more or less) veggie life :) we'll see where it goes.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I love food. Good LORD, do I love food. I love everything, the colors, the aromas, the prepping, COOKING. Love, love, LOVE it. And now, thanks to Netflix, I have an intense addiction to food documentaries. First it was Food Inc., which brought me into the world of organic produce and meat. Then it was Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead--my lovely and observant husband bought me a juicer for Valentine's day after noting my obsession with that one. Best. gift. ever. But my latest cinematic delight is Forks Over Knives. I highly recommend it, simply because it's fascinating. After watching that flick, doing a lot of online reading and research, and trying a bunch of recipes, I'm having a go at something I never, ever thought I would do--go vegan. I mean, I used to think the very idea was crazy--no meat OR fish? cheese?!!! How do you live?! Well, to be perfectly honest, I'm still trying to figure that out. I'm simply dabbling at the moment. I'm still eating the occasional piece of cheese. I had sushi on Sunday. My favorite shoes are still my oh-so-NOT vegan chic leather boots. Oh well.
But over the past few days, I'm slowly starting to think this could be something that really changes my life.
I'm not gonna lie--I cried a bit the first time I watched Food Inc. last year. Watching cows cry over losing their babies, the animals walking around ankle to knee deep in their own excrement. Oh my. This is coming from me--the girl who always joked about PETA--People Eating Tasty Animals. While I'm not raising my PETA flag anytime soon, my heart got one of those "something is not right" tugs. That started my free range, organic meat only shopping. Then Forks Over Knives got to me offering health benefits that seemed too good to not at least research. More energy? Lower risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease...? Lose a little extra weight I've got hanging around--perk, to be sure. So I decided why not give it a go? It's something new, a new cooking challenge to get myself out of my kitchen rut. Why not commit a couple of days a week to trying? So I bought some tofu, loaded up my fridge with fresh produce and my cabinets with soy milk. I traded butter for a "buttery spread" (whatever that means!) and am thoroughly enjoying not being afraid of carbs. Truth be told, I love bread and pasta waaaaaaay more than meat, so that's a plus.
Let me tell ya--I'm actually really loving it! I thought I'd be dying and hating life, but I feel great. I went from "ehhhh maybe a day or two" to just going for it and enjoying the occasional "forbidden fruit" so to speak. I feel energized and healthier than I've felt in a really long time! A huge help (and another addiction) came when I stumbled upon a blog for Chef Chloe, a young, California girl vegan chef who kicked butt on Cupcake Wars with vegan cupcakes. Oh my gosh, I'm OBSESSED with this girl's recipes! In about an hour, I tore through her website and ordered her cookbook. My cookbook arrived today and I must say, I'm inspired and thrilled down to my toes! Come on, who'da thought you could make vegan cinnamon rolls? Or creamy (albeit cream-less) pesto pasta? (amazing, by the way). I just finished a roll of homemade vegan sushi--mind: blown.
So, that's the "What's going on in my kitchen" update. It's been an enjoyable experiment so far. We'll see if it sticks. I hope it does! I'm thinking, if I still crave it, reserve meat and cheese and such for celebrations and special occasions. Soooo yeah. I'll keep ya posted and let ya know how it goes :) In the mean time, yay for plant food.