Wednesday, December 22, 2010

vegan experiment = success!

Hello, blog, how are you doing? I'm sorry I've neglected you!

I was successfully a vegan for 6.5 days. It wasn't as hard as I thought, and it definitely nixed some fast food cravings in the bud.. "Hey, maybe I should stop at Dairy Queen for a blizzard! .. oh wait, that's dairy..".. and surprisingly, I didn't die. I've never really restricted my food intake in any way, and this was an interesting exercise in self-control that I was pretty sure I didn't actually possess.

Why 6.5 days instead of 7? We had an International Potluck at work last Friday (my Day Seven), and I was on the fence whether to go or not, but Thursday night I made up my mind to go and see what I could find. I whipped up a batch of hummus and cut up some fresh veggies, and sailed into the potluck hoping to find some vegan treats. At work this is the biggest social event of the year for us, and there was TONS of food!

There are a lot of different nationalities represented where I work, and some people are vegetarian for religious or personal beliefs. I found the people who brought dishes to be very accomodating of different diets. A lot of the dishes had little cards beside them stating the ingredients, and if they were vegetarian or not. I wound up with a plate of veggies, hummus, salad, and two different couscous dishes (one actually marked "vegan!"). I think there was some feta on the salad, but I left it to the side.

Then there was dessert.

Ohhh dessert.

I went in and did a round around the dessert table, and grabbed a coffee while I perused. There were DEFINITELY no vegan options, but there were some delicious looking sweets! I sat back down and chatted to the person I was sitting next to for a few minutes, and then decided to go for it. Christmas is only once a year!

I didn't overdo it, but one thing struck me - I didn't really enjoy dessert that much. I think I'm slowly getting more of a refined palate for sweets, and anything too sweet and sugary (milk chocolate, white chocolate, anything with icing or glaze) doesn't do it for me anymore.

That being said, yesterday at my office they put all of the chocolate within arm's reach of me. That's all I ate. All day. And BOY did I feel it by the time I was ready to go home. My brain was toast! I couldn't even look at FRUIT in my fridge at home! I definitely recognize that I have a tendency to snack when I'm bored, and that is my one big pitfall when it comes to this whole eating everything in moderation thing. WHOOPS there goes a whole package of cookies...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

vegan peppermint mocha.

I cheated a teensy bit yesterday. I ate vegetarian sushi from Superstore, which said on the ingredients list, "May contain traces of milk, nuts, etc..". I figured that since I'm not doing this for medical reasons, it would be okay to eat it anyway.

It's really hard in the office to not eat the various forms of chocolate that always seem to surface here. Our lab is full of people who love chocolate! So this morning I came equipped with my own vegan dose:

Vegan Peppermint Mocha

1 cup brewed coffee
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
dash So Good soy creamer

Mix. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

food food food.

I love food. Not surprisingly, I have waaay too much of it in my apartment.

From my fridge.

From my cupboards.

From my freezer (the gross things on the left are over ripe frozen bananas, perfect for smoothies!).

This photos don’t include baking supplies, or anything that’s not vegan. Isn’t that a ridiculous amount of food? I live by myself! Life is good!

For breakfast I made a quick smoothie. I love smoothies; the only thing I hate is washing the stupid blender every time. Fun fact: my blender is actually one of my parents’ wedding gifts. They were married in 1982. They didn’t make a lot of smoothies. So I have it now!

Summer Smoothie in December

One frozen banana
1 cup frozen raspberries
½- ¾ cup orange juice

I defrosted the fruit for 2 mins in the microwave so it wouldn’t kill the blades in the blender (or kill my teeth from coldness!). Then I blended until smooth. Tastes like summer!

I made up a meal plan for this week, which I don’t really think I’ve ever done before. When I went to make a grocery list for it, I discovered that I had a lot of the items already, which was exciting. Regardless, I still managed to rack up a $60 grocery bill.


I justify it by saying that $17 worth of items were things like olive oil, rice, and steel cut oats, which will last me much longer than one week. Also, this pile includes organic baby carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, vegetable bouillon cubes, and edamame. And a Fair Trade70% chocolate bar. A girl’s gotta have her chocolate!

Side note: Knorr vegetable bouillon cubes have 40% of your RDI of sodium in ONE cube. The organic kind I found in the specialty section were also low sodium – 4% RDI!!! –and they taste delicious! I am a salt fiend, but I like to add it on stuff, so I’m trying to decrease it in places like soup where you can’t even really taste the difference.

After I put away most of the food, I set about making chili. It turned out more like a “stoup”.

Vegan Vegetable Chili/Stoup

3 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp green onions
1 tsp each paprika, oregano, basil, cilantro, black pepper, and cayenne pepper
1 can mixed beans, drained and rinsed 3x
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed 3x
1 can diced tomatoes, juice included
1 low sodium vegetable bouillon cube, dissolved in 1 cup boiling water

Add everything to slow cooker. Mix well. Add more water if necessary. Cover. Let simmer on high for 3-4 hours, or until celery is cooked.

Doesn't that look pretty?

This dish may require some planning. Be prepared to spend the night alone.

Now find something to do for 4 hours.

P.S. This recipe is super cheap! $5.89 (and it makes six servings! that's less than a $1 a serving!).

See look. Proof.
To accompany this I made some quick biscuits. These are my go-to and they’re so fast to make! I didn’t buy white flour (there’s always something I forget!), so these were a little dense. I’d substitute half white flour next time.

15 Minute Biscuits

2 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (you could probably get away with ½ tsp here)
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup milk (I used unsweetened Almond Breeze)

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Cut in shortening and mix. Slowly add milk until well incorporated. Turn out on floured surface. Roll ou t to ½ inch thick and cut out circles using floured glass. Bake at 400F for 10-14 mins (checking with toothpick to see if they’re done). Serve over “stoup” or with a little Earth Balance vegan butter. Enjoy!

Or just plop on top of your stoup. Delicious!

And then, abandon your messy kitchen and go take a bath. That's what I did.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I know I said I wasn't planning on changing my diet at all during this yoga challenge, but I'm flirting with the idea of going vegan for a week. A vegan diet consists of fruits, veggies, nuts, grains, beans, lentils, etc... pretty much everything except for dairy, seafood, meat, and eggs.

I've never followed any "diets" per se, or restricted my food intake in any fashion. I've only ever started with the thought, "I should eat more veggies," and then binged on ice cream or something. Or I'll try a new food. But that's it in terms of diet.. I've only ever thought about it. Food has always been a free for all.

Let me be clear: While at one point in my elementary school years, I did in fact want to be a veterinarian, animal rights has nothing to do with why I want to do this. I see nothing wrong with eating animal products (as much as Skinny Bitch has tried to convince me otherwise). And I own fur. There a few things I hate in this world. Slow drivers, exposed muffintops, and wet socks are among them. But the king of my pet peeves thus the target of my hatred is PETA. "I'd rather go naked than wear fur!"? Right. That's cool if you live in California, but what if you live in Saskatchewan? Try and make your point THERE, Pam. I hate PETA so freaking much that I can't even pretend to be on their side if only a little bit (so much so I'm not even linking to their site). The reasons are many, which could be another ten separate posts. So EAT your burgers and your chicken wings. I'm doing this because I am curious if I can, and I struggle with eating 5-10 servings of fruits and veggies a day (who doesn't?), so I figure if I cut out some things, than another apple or some carrots will fill that void. That's the goal.

I made a list of the most common things I eat, and a lot of them actually are vegan. Thanks food blogs! Nuts, fruit, almond breeze, coffee, tea, veggies, edamame, hummus, peanut butter, and soup. I actually already have Earth Balance (vegan butter) in my fridge, and I don't bake with eggs anymore, just "flax eggs". The only thing I'm worried about would be if I went to a restaurant. That might be a little tricky. The things I'd be "giving up" would be frozen yogurt (OH NO!), honey (hotly debated whether it's vegan or not... still on the fence about this one), cheese (this is a problem. I LOVE cheese), yogurt (haven't eaten any in a month), chicken (I don't eat a lot of this anyway), and chicken stock (switch to veggie). I'm currently brainstorming a meal plan, and also curious about how little I could spend for a week of groceries on a vegan diet. As long as most of it is produce, with maybe a few specialty items thrown in (soy creamer, coconut milk, fruit sorbet..for my beloved frozen yogurt.. or soy froyo) and a few canned items (beans, lentils, chickpeas.. it's a good thing I live alone.. ha!), I think I could easily do it for around $50. I think that would make for a fun series of posts.. my grocery list, my meal plan, recipes, etc. I'm no chef or dietician, but I've frequented lots of food blogs and been reading about nutrition since I was a preteen, so I think I trust myself enough to give this a shot. No idea when this 7 days will happen, but hopefully BEFORE December 24th .. Christmas is full of turkey and baked goods that are full of milk, butter, and eggs! Speaking of eggs. I should get crackin' on this meal plan.. (cue groans from my 8 readers.. ha!).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

a note on savasana.


Pronounced "Sha-va-sah-nah", this is probably one of, if not my favorite yoga pose ever. This definitely stems from when I first started practicing (around 4 years ago). I was attending an intense Ashtanga class that absolutely ripped me up, and by the time we hit the end of the series each class, it was such a relief to lay down and do nothing. I've only ever been to two classes that started with this pose, and I did not like it at all. I think it's because I have such a strong association with a feeling of ending, or relief, that the idea of actually getting up and doing an entire series (instead of slowly rolling to my right side, and slowly rising, bleary eyed and rumple-haired) is repulsive to me.

When this pose completes the class, it's quite common for students to quickly put on a sweater or socks (or both) or cover themselves with a blanket to preserve body heat generated by the class (and on a less yoga-ic note, it just feels cosier!). One class I was in, the instructor knew one of the students very well, and when it came time to do Savasana at the end of class, she went over to the student and actually tucked in her blanket around her. I was sort of hoping she'd come over to me and do the same thing, because it looked so calming and peaceful. So now whenever I use a blanket, I make sure to tuck my feet in. Chilly toes does not a cosy Savasana make :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

I actually gave the turtle pose below a shot last night. I am not as flexible as that! But it was fun to try. I suceeded in drinking 1.5L of H2O on Day Two (less than 0.5L on Day One). A side goal I have for this month is to up the volume of water I consume, because I know I feel better when I do.

On another, terrible note, I think the hard drive in my laptop is shot. Naturally, I haven't backed up any of my data and photos, and have not updated the latest version of my anti virus software, leaving my poor labtop vunerable to Trojans and Durexes and whatever other horrible viruses are out there. So now I can't turn it on. Thankfully I have a brother who is good with computers and who will exchange his expertise for food (whether he realizes this is the trade or not.. ha!), so now my baby is hanging out chez Steve and hopefully he can get it working again. Otherwise, I might have to rush a hasty letter to Santa with an updated Christmas list.

Niiiice tights bud.

I'm going to see the Nutcracker with my Dad next Friday! I used to watch it on TV around Christmastime, and I'm pretty sure the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy was what convinced me I Would someday be a ballerina (psst: I still believe I will be. no big deal). Mom gave me a ticket for my birthday and then told me Dad would be getting the other one :) Nothing like a little family bonding around the holidays!

I bought peppermint extract the other day and attempted to make my own peppermint cocoa. The first attempt was a massive flop (so strong it made my eyes water!), but I'm hoping to perfect it before Christmas arrives. I'll let you know the results when I find the magic combination!

Enjoy your weekend!