As a family, we just completed a full month of eating Vegan….ish. Some things were harder to give up than others. After reading “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer (which I heartily recommend btw), it wasn’t difficult giving up meat. I’ll admit cheese has snuck it’s way in a couple of times, but no milk or other dairy (it’s the small victories I’ve learned to celebrate).
I have mentioned before that I can’t cook. This is not an exaggeration. Over the past month, I’ve learned how to julienne carrots, touched a dried chipotle pepper for the first time, ate tofu for the first time, learned that arugula was a lettuce (seriously, I thought it was like an onion), learned that a shallot could be found in the onion aisle (thought that might have been like a turnip or something) and many, many more things. My first time in Whole Foods took almost 3 hours. I would say 80% of the ingredients I wasn’t familiar with at all.
Unfortunately I have been lax at taking pictures of this journey (I do have a few, but not many) and I will try to do better in the future.
Have I lost weight? Do I feel better? The answer on all fronts is a resounding YES! For the first time in years, I would say I had a “normal” period, which is to say I didn’t feel like my female parts were being churned in a blender, strained through my uterus and cervix and then bled out (sorry about that visual, but it’s necessary). After the first week, my skin cleared up and I haven’t had a breakout since. I think I’ve lost in the neighborhood of 10lbs. I am not exactly sure what I weighed when I started, but I have the general ballpark. I know I’ve lost a little over 2lbs per week the last 2 weeks. I have more energy. I used to be in bed by 8am (7:30 if I could swing it). Of course, in my defense I do get up at 4am. I haven’t incorporated working out until today, so I expect to feel even better and lose even more weight.
I will say that my taste buds have changed. I would have literally gagged at the thought of eating a veggie sandwich 6 weeks ago. Yesterday, not only did I eat one, but I ate it ALL and didn’t leave a crumb and it was yummy and satisfying.
It’s been difficult finding dishes my kids will eat, I won’t lie. I’ve had to put up with turned up noses, gagging reflexes and much complaining and gnashing of teeth. All in all, they’ve been good sports, and I do think there is some aspects of it that they like (for instance, you can make some really good vegan desserts). I’ve completely won over my husband, and even my son likes most things I fix.
My favorite vegan find is TVP. What you ask? I know, right! It is Textured Vegetable Protein and when mixed with liquid smoke it sort of takes on the look of ground beef…sort of. I was definitely skeptical when I made “Fool Your Friends” Tacos out of the “Vegan Comfort Food” cookbook by Alicia Simpson. In fact, everything I’ve made out of her cookbook thus far has been fantastic! The tacos…OMG unbelievable. I felt like I was eating a real taco, it was that good. I wish I had pictures but please understand, I’ve only gained confidence in vegan cooking and my abilities to cook it over the last week or so.
Our other favorite find is the Tofu Fried Rice from Whole Foods. All of the girls LOVE LOVE LOVE this dish. It is really yummy, if you like fried rice.
Some misses….vegan hot dogs. I’m not gonna lie, they are gross. Very rubbery and thick and looked as if a vegan was dismembered…if you get my drift. Again, sorry, but sometimes the overshare is necessary!
We’ve had our fair share of smoothies, sometimes weirdly green, almost black and pretty strawberry, but all good. I sneak in veggies however I can. I’ve learned what spirulina, hemp powder and agave nectar can do for a recipe. I’ve learned that real maple syrup does not taste anything like Aunt Jemima’s butter flavor maple syrup, and has taken a bit to get used too.
There are a million things you can do with a tortilla! I’m going to go a little Bubba Gump Shrimp on you here…
- Avocado, lettuce and jasmine rice wrap
- Avocado, arugula, cucumber wrap
- black beans, spinach lettuce, vegan cream cheese wrap
- pinto beans, corn, vegan sour cream wrap
- Vegan “chicken” salad with lettuce wrap
- Vegan Sonoma “chicken” salad with lettuce wrap
- Kidney beans, brown rice and vegan cream cheese wrap
There are a million different combos, and I use avocado in almost every one. I’ve become addicted to avocado.
The chocolate chip cookies from “Skinny Bitch in the Kitchen” are soooooooooo good. At first, when I started mixing all the ingredients, I was thinking how does anything which combines things like coconut oil, molasses, whole wheat flour and eliminates things like sugar, butter, eggs, SUGAR, taste good. How is it possible? Well, I am hear to tell you, those dozens of cookies lasted us like 3 days. They were delicious. I’ll take pictures next time. Next up for dessert are Happy Herbivore’s Black Bean Brownies. I know, I am skeptical as well, but excited to try them out.
I have been on a quest to duplicate Kraft Mac N Cheese. Success = ZERO. Failure = TWO. Although to be fair, my harshest critic doesn’t like anything except peanut butter sandwiches (and the peanut butter gets put on thick and then scraped off, and she doesn’t like jelly, God forbid you attempt to make her a sandwich, I think she let me do it once, and she was sick, very sick….do you feel my pain?). Here is a picture of the psuedo-successful mac n cheese from “Vegan Comfort Food”. It didn’t please my critic extraordinare, but everyone else liked it.
Here we are cooking all the wonderful ingredients that go into the mac n cheese. The pot on the left, yeah all that goes into a blender to make the “cheese” sauce. Weirdly interesting I thought.
I’ve included this pic of my little helper not because it was pivotal to the cooking process (although she is a very valuable asset in the kitchen) but because she hates it so, and any mother with teenage daughters will understand what I mean. Or if you saw the TV show “Modern Family” this week, the mall scene…classic. And no, this isn’t the “harshest critic on the planet” child. We aren’t allowed to photograph her, her soul leaks out, or at least that’s our theory.
Here is the Mac N Cheese prior to baking:
And after baking…
Pretty isn’t it? But you will agree, it doesn’t look like Kraft Mac N Cheese. It’s my own fault, I’ve raised my kids on processed foods and junk, I can’t expect to change them overnight. I do think it’s true though that once you stop eating all the crap food, your taste buds do change, and you find that you crave wholesome healthy foods, fruits and vegetables. At least I’ve found that to be true.
I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution” and I will shamefully admit that when he quizzed those kids about identifying different fruits and vegetables, I didn’t know some of them (of course, I do now, and no I won’t tell on myself, some things should remain sacred). However, I did know that french fries were NOT a vegetable, give me some credit.
I approach grocery shopping and cooking a bit like the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” At least from the standpoint that my mother is my “phone a friend” lifeline, and I use her often. She doesn’t laugh….hard, when I call and ask her my stupid questions, and usually she is there (although lately….not to complain, but can I get a schedule of your day, so I know when you are most likely to be waiting by the phone for my call?). After all, I have kids to feed!!!! And you’ve met my kids!!! So you know.
My husband has been wonderfully supportive, even defending me to friends who think we’ve gone off our rocker. His favorite is the mushroom vegan burger, and beans of any kinds. There is a nasty side affect to those beans, and quite frankly we are tired of living as if we are in a war zone with those bean bombs dropping! But, it’s a small price to pay for his support and enthusiasm, so I’ll suffer (anyone have any wood?).
My grocery bill is huge, astronomical even! I justify it right now by saying that if I added my grocery bill to all the eating out we did, it would be the same, and that’s probably somewhat true. We never eat out anymore. I still need to trim down the grocery bill, but I think that will come with time and experience.
I won’t say I LOVE cooking, but I almost like it. I’m pretty proud of the carrots I julienned. I broke a sweat on that task. And when it says prep time 1 hour, for me that’s more like 2 hours, but still I’m improving. The steamer is like my favorite thing, although we did invest in a really nice blender/food processor which might be neck and neck in the favorite kitchen appliances rat race. I’ve rarely used the microwave, and this from the girl who didn’t know how to heat up pizza without one! That’s progress, I don’t care who you are.
NEXT BLOG: Let’s Chow-der