Thursday, January 28, 2010

Week 2 - This diet is not so bad!

So week two is done, I am half way there. Week two was a little tougher than the last. I wasn't craving meat and started the week with a meal plan that included miso soup, spicy chickpea stew, black-eyed pea croquettes. Well, I couldn't find black-eyed peas anywhere! I didn't know what to substitute them for, so I decided to not bother with the croquettes.

I did make the stew and it was pretty tasty. It was filling and spicy and I used the left over garbanzo beans for hummus.

Then on Friday, I had a slip. I was out of town for a couple days working at a hotel in Calgary. I ordered myself a special meal for the meeting and figured I would just find something veggie for dinner that night. When we got to the restaurant, I was faced with pre-made food and everything had meat and/or dairy! I asked if they could make something for me or switch a sauce and was told flat out 'no'. I ended up having a pasta that had a butter sauce and no other animal product. A small slip, but figured I did my best. Later that night, after a bottle of wine and then creme brulee. Did it taste good? Oh yeah... but I felt pretty crappy after.

The next day I got back on track and found an excellent sushi place that had lots of veggie options. I researched it before going to make sure. It was well worth the trip!

This week was a little tricky and a real test of what it's like to be vegan. There are a lot of restaurants out there that use pre-made food that have lots of junk in it. Also, not everyone is ok with substituting or altering a dish for you. Doing this diet has really made me learn that I have to plan everything out. If I know someone is picking a restaurant, call ahead and if they won't help, eat before you go and pay the price of people thinking you don't eat enough as you pick at a gross, wilty salad.

I am hoping for a better week next week. It involves making vegan chocolate cupcakes, so I am sure it'll be better than this!

I am going to go listen to some hippy vegan propaganda to remind me why I am doing this.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Vegan Challenge - Week 1

So I have made it through a full week of vegan eating. While the start up costs hurt my budget (By hurt, I mean doubled my grocery bill!!) I have to say it did not take long to get me on board with this diet. I am way less tired all the time, I rarely feel hungry, it takes less food to make me feel full, I am drinking more water than ever, and best of all I have not craved meat or dairy once. Well, that may not be completely true, on day two I was drooling over every steak house that I passed. Even as a meat eater I didn't crave things like steak.. How weird is that!?

I am completely surprised that I have not wanted milk or cheese once since starting. Before, both were a part of almost every meal. I was completely hooked. I have no idea why I don't crave either now.. I really don't want to know, I am just glad I don't have to feel the pains of detox.

It has been a learning curve for me. I thought I started off so well; I went to Asian markets for most of my food and then got the few last things at Planet Organic. I made a food plan for the week and tried to reuse ingredients to waste less. I tried have balanced meals and treats and snacks so I wouldn't feel deprived.

Things that I have learned:
1. Beans - who knew how much work goes into these things? And who knew that they pretty much are involved in every meal I eat now... You have to soak them and cook them for hours.. and you can't even leave them to cook, because the water might boil out and need replenishing. I have not quite gotten the hang of the bean situation yet, but I have vowed to try at least eight different bean dishes this month. I have already had two and two more on the menu this week. i wish someone could tell me the easy way to deal with these things.. They confuse me.

2. Tempeh is gross - Ok well that might be exaggerating a bit, but I made a slow cooker meal with tempeh and it was not good. The tempeh had the consistency of spam and the taste of rubber. I don't know if I will try it again... we'll see.

3. Tofu prep - I learned a great trick to prepare tofu. When you buy it, freeze it right away, then let it sit and thaw on the counter. If you do this you can wring the tofu out like a sponge. So much easier than weight down tofu with paper towel and plates etc.

4. Vegan Jello - my dessert this week was Vegan jello. Jello is my favorite thing in the world.. so good light and a million flavours. So I got the recipe for fruit juice, berries and agar agar with ginger juice... I didn't try it until today in fear from my life (something about gelatinous sea vegetables that freak me out) well... verdict - it was really good! not really jello.. but it jiggles and tasted great. Success!

5. Quinoa - Weird super grain.. looks like couscous, cooks like rice.. tastes pretty good, but wouldn't eat it on its own.

Well on to week two - bean dishes, black eyed peas and vegan peanut butter rice crispy treats... I think its going to be a good one.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Vegan Challenge

Screw New Year's resolutions. I have never been a fan, rarely bother to make them and fully-aware that I will never keep them. The vegan challenge started January 11, 2010 and not because of a resolution I made.

It all started one night while I was shopping for a cookbook at 3:00 am. Sometimes I can't sleep, and when I get bored, I tend to surf the net in hope to bored myself into a short coma. I ended up reading a blog on vegan diets and while I have been vegetarian before I had never attempted the plunge into veganism.

The more I read, the more I thought maybe it was worth a try. I bought 3 new books on vegan cooking, subscribed to a couple of podcasts, and began researching this way of life.

As soon as I started to tell people that I was going to do this; the questions began: What will you eat? How do you get protein? What about iron? Are you sure this is Healthy? One thing I was sure of is that it would likely be healthier than the junk that I had been eating the past year.

I find it really interesting how people worry so much about not eating animal products as they sit there eating greasy junk food, sugary candy, and fatty meals. Eating vegan has the same issues as a meat-based diet. You can eat fresh, healthy food, as well as processed junky food.

So to ensure I would eat healthier I plan to base meals on four components: A protein, carbs, vegetables, and something sweet for a dessert. My biggest fear is no dairy. There are easy ways to substitute meat, but in my opinion there is no equal substitute for milk, cheese, and eggs.

This is why I decided one month to try out this new diet. It gives me time to detox off the dairy, try out a lot of new food and decide if it makes me feel better, worse or whatever.

I read the books, got advice from some vegans online, made a meal plan and I am ready to see what happens!