Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mission Complete!

So, I finished my 30-day vegan trial. (I actually finished on Monday, but haven't had time to write until now...) Overall, it went really well. I feel lots and lots better and I can always tell if I've had too much sugar or not enough veggies, because I end up feeling really crappy. During the 30 days, I kept a tallied journal of how many whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes I consumed every day. Since it's over, I've stopped doing that, but I still try to keep a mental checklist to make sure I'm getting enough nutrients and making good choices about my food, like whole grains instead of refined white flour.

Some of the things that I didn't like about going vegan were:
1. going out to eat. I pretty much always had to check online before I went out somewhere to make sure there was something there for me to eat. Restaurants like to put hidden ingredients in their food (that's kinda scary). I had to learn this the hard way after I went to Panera one time and ordered their garden vegetable soup. Seems vegan, right? Nope. They put pesto in it, which apparently has cheese mixed in. The only completely vegan thing I've been able to find on their menu (besides an apple) is their black bean soup. But luckily, that's my favorite. (But they don't have it every day...)
2. feeling like I'm inconveniencing others. I stayed at a couple of friends' houses during the duration of my trial. I didn't want them to have to go out and buy special food just for me, so I brought my own food and ate that instead of what everyone else was eating. It felt a little awkward, but I didn't want to sacrifice my commitment, so I did it any way.
3. constantly checking ingredient lists. Every time I was at the store or at a friends' house, I would pick up a container to check the ingredients to see if I could buy the product or participate in snack time. You would not believe the products that have milk ingredients in them. I don't understand what corporations are trying to do by feeding us all this milk (except to make us fat...)

That being said, however, I've decided to stay vegan for now. I'm not going to be crazy about it. If I accidentally eat something with butter in it, I won't freak out. But when I can make my own food choices, I will. I think this really works for me, so I definitely want to keep doing it as long as I can. :D

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pizza Sauce!

Yesterday, I had an orange and Cascadian Farms multi-grain squares cereal for breakfast. At lunch time, I made a Grilled Avocado Sandwich. And at dinner, I made pita pizza with homemade pizza sauce. Here's how:

Quick+Easy Chunky Pizza Sauce
1-15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1-small can of tomato paste
3 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. basil
1 tsp. black pepper

Heat all ingredients on stove until tomato paste has thinned and everything is heated through to blend tastes. Spread on a pita or pizza dough and top with your fave toppings. Also makes a great dipping sauce for breadsticks and garlic bread.

There we go! How easy was that??

And here's a note for all those wondering: while the Daiya mozzarella cheese I had with my lentils/rice the other day was delicious, it is quite gross in large amounts on a pizza. I think I'm gonna have to stick with cheeseless pizza from now on. I was peeling off all the cheese, but I couldn't get it all off. It didn't help that it wasn't all melted and it was super stretchy like plastic-y rubber stuff. Bleh. It seems like more of a salad topping than something to melt...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Long Crazy Day.

Things were a bit hectic this morning and I only got to eat a kiwi. For lunch, I mixed half of a brown rice/quinoa microwave packet with some brown lentils that I made the other night. Then, I topped it with Daiya vegan mozzarella cheese and dried cranberries. That was an incredible concoction! I ate it alongside some roasted corn from Smoky Bones that was being served at the work conference. Fast forward to dinner and I made an AMAZING veggie chili for Mom, Stephen and I. Super spicy, super yummy and best of all, super healthy! It had tomatoes, onions, garlic, red bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, kidney beans, pinto beans and cannellini beans. I added lots of chili powder and a good amount of ground cayenne pepper to give it that kick we all love. :) Stephen made some cornbread, but he used milk, butter and eggs, so I abstained. Mom was raving about it though. Maybe you can talk him into giving you a recipe. :)

I had a pear for dessert and then later, Mom made us some time. Mom and I had rooibos and Stephen had Green Tea Matcha (matcha powder + green tea leaves). The rooibos was very delicious and she also had a Double Chocolate Yerba Mate that I will be drinking for my morning caffeine boost. (I haven't had caffeine in awhile, so I hope it doesn't me too crazy.)

Where was Dad during all this chili/cornbread/tea yumminess? Watching the Colts lose. :( Dad's not big on the spicy or the meatless chili, so he had a cheese sandwich and then retired into the other room to watch football. Mom was looking at some vegetarian shirts online, Stephen was doing a bunch of random things on his computer and I was reading "The Kind Diet." I was really glad to spend some time with my family after a busy weekend--I missed them a lot. :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Food today.

Here's a quick post about the food I had today. It was crazy busy!

Green Tea Smoothie w/ pineapple
two buckwheat pancakes from what I'd made last night (see previous post)

Black Bean Soup from Panera
(and I had the whole grain baguette)

cup of leafy green salad
two large carrot sticks
two large celery stalks
roasted red pepper hummus

Breakfast cookie
trail mix
Cranberry Walnut Bread (from Whole Foods)

I also drank two cups of tea: one green tea and the other oolong. And I'm stick working on getting my water quotient for the day.

I got lots of protein today and a good amount of veggies, but I have quite the headache tonight. I don't know if it's because of the stress of a long day or what, but I'm gonna finish cooking some black beans on the stove and then GO TO BED!**

**Good sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle. I think I struggle with this more than the food or caffeine aspects.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Little Something Extra.

My work is doing a conference this weekend, so meals are gonna be a tad tricky. But tonight, I got to go to Qdoba after I picked up one of the participants and we had dinner together. I was able to share with Dana about my new vegan diet and she had lots of questions. She was very kind about it, which I was glad for, because that's not always the case. At Qdoba, I had a Grilled Veggie Burrito which has zucchini, yellow squash and red bell peppers in it. YUMMY!! I got it with black beans and only a touch of rice and three different kinds of salsa + lettuce.

Then tonight, after our first session, I decided to come back to my apartment and made the most AMAZING pancakes EVER!!! No pics, but I will share my recipe with you. :)

Coconut-Cinnamon-Vanilla Buckwheat Pancakes
2/3 c. Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix
1 egg substitute (for me, it was 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp. water)
2 tsp. canola oil
2 tsp. raw sugar (the recipe calls for honey, but that's not vegan)
3/4 c. milk substitute (I used So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk)
Dash of cinnamon
Small handful of unsweetened coconut
about one teaspoon of vanilla
(As you can see, I added those last three in on a whim...)

Mix all ingredients just until lumps disappear. Using a 1/4 c. measuring cup, scoop pancake batter onto lightly greased pan or griddle and cook until cooked through, flipping after edges dry and surface begins to bubble. Makes about 6 pancakes.

I made these for breakfast in the morning, because I know that most of the food will be things I can't (won't) eat. But they smelled so good, I had to scarf down 1.5 of them just out of the pan. They are so thick and so delicious and I can just taste the healthiness. They're not too sweet, which is good, but they also have that extra vanilla kick that I love and the coconut and cinnamon just give it that over-the-top yumminess. You should really just try these. I can't wait to try more variations with this pancake mix.

I think I want to make a "breakfast" cookie for snack tomorrow as well. With the cookies and junk-food snacks that are gonna be at the conference, I want to make sure I'm not tempted to eat them. If I bring my own healthy snacks, I'll be much more likely to indulge in those. Stay tuned for more yummy recipes!! :)


Last night, I did just what I said I would. I came home from work, took a power nap, ate a soy burger for protein and basically relaxed. I also drank a BUNCH of water. Then I went to bed (after taking melatonin, cause I was having trouble sleeping) and I woke up feeling so much better today. I slept in a bit, then went to the gym and did a nice cardio workout on the elliptical, which is the first time I've used one since college. I'm not a big treadmill person, mostly because of my knee problems, but if I do the bike too much, I feel a little lazy.

Then I ran some errands, including picking up some vegan cookbooks from the library. (I got "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone, which I am really excited about reading.) Then for lunch, I was going to go to YATS, which is a local Cajun/Creole restaurant here in Indy. They have four locations and one is just about a mile from my apartment. They change the menu up every once in awhile, so I always check it to see what they have before I go. They always have vegetarian options, and most of the time, a vegan dish as well. But today, the first time I've been in a couple weeks, they didn't have anything vegan. Both of the vegetarian dishes they had were made with a cream sauce, so I couldn't eat them. They also always serve yummy bread with butter on it, so I'd have to skip that.

Since they didn't have what I wanted today, I decided to make my own version at home. I had thawed out some split pea soup that my mom and I made a couple weeks ago and then I thawed out about a cup of brown rice. I poured the split pea soup (which is rather thick) over the brown rice and then topped it with Frank's RedHot -- my favorite condiment. I broiled a couple slices of whole grain bread in the oven that I had topped with Earth Balance and garlic. The entire preparation only took about five minutes and then I had a super filling, very delicious lunch. And the spicy is just what I needed.

I'm excited to read my new vegan cookbooks, but it'll have to wait since I have a full day of work, errands and a retreat for work later tonight. I'll let you know if I find anything fun. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I have had WAY too much sugar today. I brought a bunch of cookies with me to work--bad idea. I need to limit myself to one, MAYBE two a day. I also broke down and had a soda for the first time in about three weeks. Also, a bad idea. I am on sugar overload and I feel like crap. There wasn't even a sugar high for any moment. I just had a "Ooo, this is yummy" moment and then instant crash. Headache, fatigue. I just really want a nap.

I started off the day really well. Orange for first breakfast, multi-grain bagel for second breakfast. Popcorn for lunch. I didn't eat what I actually brought for lunch. Things got really busy with the little ones around here today. I think I may just take the night off from my scheduled workout, eat an early dinner and then relax and try to come down from this sugar hangover. Then I'll get up in the morning and head over to the gym while everyone else is at work. I'm so glad for Flexible Fridays. (Which isn't an actual thing, except for me.) :)

So, word of advice to people trying to be healthy: when you go cold turkey off of sugar, don't OD on it later. You will pay the price... :/

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Tonight for dinner, I had chili that my mom had made. It had at least two or three kinds of peppers in it (which I generally have trouble digesting, but after going vegan, I've been doing great with them), plus two types of beans and zucchini, along with other typical chili spices and sauce. No meat, though! It's crazy to me that when I tell people that I make meatless chili, they wonder what I put in it. Apparently, to them, chili is just spiced meat with some tomato sauce poured over it. When I make chili, I love to put three kinds of beans, and LOTS of chili powder + cayenne pepper in it. Spicy enough to make my eyes water = perfect chili. Mom's was really good -- very spicy, the way I like it. I had to wash it down with the last of her apple cider. (Guess you'll need to go back to the orchard this weekend, Mom!) ;)

Lunch was pretty basic today. An organic PBJ (organic bread, organic peanut butter, organic Crofter's fruit spread). Carrots + celery (I shared the celery with KO--they're her fave!) and grapes (KO got a handful of those as well!)

I had a great workout tonight at the gym. I like to vary my workout a bit so on Mondays, I walk a couple miles around the track with my parents (that's the only day we can all work out together...). On Wednesdays, I do basic strength/toning exercises with machines + weights. Thursdays--at least 20 minutes on the bike (although I may try an elliptical tomorrow). Fridays and Saturdays are difficult for me to stay consistent on, but I like to do weights again on Friday and some sort of cardio activity (outside, if I can) on Saturdays. Tonight, as with most Wednesdays, I start out by walking one lap around the track to warm up my muscles so I won't pull anything. Then I do all of my lower body on the machines: leg extensions (quads), seated leg curls (hamstrings), leg press (quads/hams/glutes), and hip abduction/adduction (inner thighs and hip muscles). I also started using the ab crunch machine tonight. I do two sets of ten reps, usually. And if I start to feel like they're too easy, I'll increase the weight a bit. (That's only happened with one exercise though.) After the machines, I'll go over to the free weights and work my upper body. I do bicep and hammer curls, tricep dumbbell rows, and two kinds of oblique exercises (side-to-side and front bends). Two sets of ten reps for these as well. All of these exercises are things I learned in high school, and I'm really grateful that I still remember how to do them. And proper breathing technique, which is *super* important!

Sorry that was a bit long. I have some fun things to talk about over the next couple days, so hopefully I'll have some time to get to write about them. I need to go clean out my fridge for now, to make room for one of the fun things I'll be getting to soon. :)

Boring Day.

Yesterday (Tuesday), I didn't really eat anything too interesting. My dinner was really delicious: leftover cold stir-fried veggies over cold pasta. Perfect small meal to eat right before I had to leave for my weekly small group meeting.

I also ended up making those chocolate chip cookies I was talking about in the last post. They were quite delicious! And I have been craving some chocolate, so they really hit the spot. Now, I just need to be tempted not to eat too many. (They still have sugar in them!!)

Let me write really quickly about a book that I read that helped me decide to do the 30-day vegan trial: Skinny Bitch. This book is SO funny! If you get easily offended by swearing and harsh sarcasm, you might not like this book, but I still think that everyone should read it. The girls that wrote this book tell it like it is and aren't afraid to hurt people's feelings. And sometimes, that's what we need. We need to be slapped in the face before we wake up to the reality of our situation. Kim & Rory (the authors) talk a lot about how our food is made and why this should concern us, as well as some tips for making our bodies feel healthier.

One of the things they suggested actually came from the creators of Body for Life. They say to eat fruit first thing in the morning, because your body digests fruit easier when it's eaten by itself with no other food in the stomach. So, they suggest to eat fruit for breakfast and then wait at least 30 minutes before eating anything else. And it doesn't have to be a little tiny bit of fruit. You can eat a lot of it! So, I have been trying this for a couple weeks and it really works. I was definitely hesitant about it and thought, "My body is so messed up, there's no way this will do any good." And I'm glad to admit that I was wrong. When I eat fruit first thing in the morning, my stomach (and the rest of my body) feels great throughout the day.

So, if you're looking for some small changes, but aren't really ready to go vegan yet, I would suggest trying this. See how you do and if it works for you, stick with it. You may have to give it a few days before it works the way it should.

And read "Skinny Bitch." You'll be glad you did. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010


Quick post before I settle in for the night:

For a snack today, I had an apple and some walnuts. Then I walked two miles tonight at the gym with my parents and did some ab exercises.

I'm always super hungry when I get done working out, so I had two big servings of pasta tonight: whole-wheat rotini with tomato sauce and mushrooms.

I'm thinking about making some vegan chocolate chip cookies before bedtime. I got a recipe from my friend Amanda's blog, so I may try it out.

Gotta get up early tomorrow to vote!!

Halfway Point

Alright, so here's some back-story, since I haven't posted in months and months (because I'm about 99% sure no one reads this but my mom): A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go vegan. I was already a "part-time vegetarian," as I called it, meaning that I ate a mainly plant-based diet, but would also eat chicken, turkey or fish from time to time. I also consumed eggs, some cheese (I'm a bit lactose-intolerant) and butter.

But I've been struggling to lose weight recently, and even after starting a work-out regimen, I was seeing no results. I realized I had to take action with my eating habits as well, no matter how drastic it may be. So, I decided to do a 30-day trial vegan diet. I started on October 17 and yesterday marked Day 15. So as of today, I am officially starting the second half of my 30-day trial. After it's over, I'll re-evaluate how I did, what I liked and didn't like and decide if I want to keep going.

So far, I have loved it. Yes, there are a couple things I miss, like candy bars and Doritos, but let's face it, those were probably the reason I wasn't losing weight anyway. Eggs have been difficult to cut out, because I love having scrambled eggs with veggies, but I've been able to open myself up to a lot more breakfast options, now that I've omitted an American staple. I feel lots better than I did before, since I've often struggled with digestive issues--I haven't had a problem since I started!

Anyway, the purpose of me writing again, was to talk about my adventures and some of the new foods I am trying now that I have to make more conscious decisions about what to eat. I'll (try to) post every day and list the things I ate and what was fun about my meal choices or what was difficult. I can already tell you that it is pretty hard to have get-togethers with friends when you are the only vegan (or even vegetarian!) in the group. I had a party this past weekend, and I made sure to bring lots of veggies to the party and luckily, some other people brought fruit. I was able to sample some cheese-less pizza and I had plenty to eat. But there were definitely a lot of things there I would have liked to eat that I decided not to (cheesy pizza, sun chips, BBQ chips, brownies and yummy cookies). I have no regrets, though. I feel like I made the right choice for me and my body and at the end of the day, I can feel confident in that.

Most days, I will probably not post pictures, because I don't always have a camera handy and some days, I'm just so excited about my food, that I just dive right in and forget about snapping some shots. But if it's something really cool and interesting, I'll try to post a pic or two. This is mainly just going to be a food journal.

Today, so far, I have had a spinach smoothie (coconut milk, flax oil, strawberries, OJ concentrate, vanilla extract + spinach)--this was only okay. I have made much better smoothies in the past (I might post some recipes later...), but I think my spinach is starting to get bitter and that's why it tasted off. For lunch, I had a no-queso quesadilla with roasted red pepper hummus, chopped red onion and Frank's RedHot on Trader Joe's Whole Grain Tortillas (which are my absolute FAVORITE tortilla!!). Instead of using canola oil spray like I normally do, I used my new Earth Balance buttery spread (which is the only margarine I'll use, more on that later) to cook the quesadilla. It definitely gave it a new interesting flavor. I make this dish different every time, so I never know exactly what to expect.

I did use the rest of my red-pepper hummus, so I'm going to have to get some more of this. (I brought it to the party and it got devoured!!)

I'll post later with my snack and dinner items. And at some point, I'll add recipes and blog about some of my favorite foods. (And maybe get on a soapbox or two.) Enjoy!