Vegan – Days 11 and 12

At the end of day 10, you might recall that Emma and I made frozen treats:

Well, while my assistant wasn’t big on the coconut flavor from the coconut yogurt, THIS guy loved them.

Here are some other snapshots from days 11 and 12.

Berries for the kids for breakfast. Yum!

And a smoothie bowl for me. (You’re drooling, right??)

A little vegan dinner coming at you.

When William saw the pasta, he said, “Awwww, it’s Mexico noodles.” Then he promptly inhaled it as though he were a human vacuum cleaner. The recipe is Fiesta Pasta from My Plant-Based Family. It was super and made enough for two nights supper easily. I took her suggestion of adding a cup of tomato sauce to the sauce recipe. Next time, I would double (or even triple) the sauce part of the recipe. We like our noodles saucy over here. I actually ended up adding a jar of pasta sauce to our individual plates.

Green Smoothie. This had a couple of small kiwi, a half of a banana, a big handful of spinach, some coconut milk, some coconut yogurt…and, well, honestly I forget, but probably a tablespoon of ground flax and a tablespoon of hemp hearts.

For lunch today, I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I didn’t have time to make a lunch this morning but expected I would have enough time to grab something before I left the office to take my daughter to the orthodontist. I had less time than anticipated and the city was nuts… I tried getting something to go at Freshii and Pita Pit but the mile-long lines meant I just couldn’t wait. In the end, I ran into the new Supplement King and grabbed a bag of vegan protein chips (which were pretty awesome) and a vegan protein bar, also really awesome. 

No lie, neither of the people working at the store knew what “vegan” meant. I mean I totally get that Joe Public may not understand that vegans don’t eat any animal products, including dairy and eggs. Heck, I am JUST learning myself exactly what it means to be vegan. But, I would have expected a guy and a gal who work in a supplement/health food store to know what it means (and what vegan products they have in stock). Nope.

Today’s crowning glory…and really my biggest pride and joy since this journey began…was the almond butter I just made. I got the recipe over at Oh She Glows.

I made it exactly per her directions and it turned out beautifully. (Like, I could sit here and eat it with a spoon, y’all.) And, my Hamilton Beach food processor must be pretty awesome, because it didn’t even take the full 10 minutes to get all goopy and drippy. Thank goodness I made it to be the “special ingredient” in a vegan treat I am making for Canada Day…so I can’t eat it all tonight.


Vegan Days 9 and 10

Things are plugging along quite nicely here.

Day 9 started off with overnight oats topped with strawberry and banana. Mmmmmm, I love me some overnight oats!

Lunch was leftover Daiya vegan pizza. This was supper. I had some rice and black beans left over from when I made veggie burgers. Added some corn….and presto. 

This morning started off with a chocolate shake. It was a nice change from my usual berry smoothies. Kinda felt like I was having dessert for breakfast! (I got this recipe from Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking cookbook that I bought for Kindle last night.

Lunch today was more leftovers. Still yummy.

Highlight of the past two days was taking five minutes with this girl to make frozen treats with nothing but coconut milk “yogurt”, fresh berries and a splash of maple syrup. (Recipe from My Plant-Based Family)

I’m learning a lot. One thing I’m learning is that I really want to become adept at making homemade vegan food as opposed to buying more processed things with tons of ingredients that don’t seem all that natural or healthy. For example, tonight William had soccer so we needed a quick supper that we could make and eat in minutes. We settled on some tortilla chips with tofutti sour cream and salsa. The tofutti sour cream was fine tasting…but the ingredients list made me uncomfortable. As time goes on, I want to be able to make healthy versions of this stuff on my own. My biggest barrier right now is a lack of time, particularly a lack of time to plan, shop and prep. I’ll get it worked out eventually.

And, another thing I’m learning is that I’m only human. I work full time. I have a busy schedule both during the day and in the evenings. I can only do so much. I have to pace myself so I don’t burn out. When I’m eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, my kitchen is naturally going to be used more often and messier more often. Small price to pay, right?

One Week Vegan-niversary (Day 8)

So, one week ago today was my first day as a Vegan. It’s been an adjustment but, honestly, not at all a difficult one. I have a long way to go and tons to learn about how to be a healthy vegan. But, instead of feeling anxious or unsure, I feel excited and ambitious.

I started the morning off in style with vegan pancakes:

Then, I dropped Emma off at her Sunday dance class and went to the grocery store to pick up some vegan groceries. For lunch, I had a Silver Hills Raspberry Bagel with natural peanut butter and for supper I had a slice of Daiya vegan pizza. Pretty boring and uninspiring…but I spent several hours at the beach watching the kids have a blast in the sand, so that took up some time.

I did make some overnight oats for tomorrow’s breakfast…so that’s something!

Also, in honor of my one week vegan-niversary…I just watched Forks Over Knives on Netflix. If you haven’t watched this, I beg you to go and watch it right now. But, don’t watch it alone. Watch it with someone you love so you can be inspired together. Seriously. Watch it. Thanks to everyone who suggested it, especially my lovely daughter. I would like everyone I love to watch it now, please. I’m more inspired and motivated than ever! And, more convinced than ever that this is the best, most healthful choice I could have made.

Vegan Day 7 – Best Burgers Ever!

Today’s big accomplishment was definitely the homemade veggie burgers I made for supper. I found the recipe over at Minimalist Baker. All I can say is wow! Give these a try, you won’t be disappointed!

They basically consisted of brown rice, mashed black beans, walnuts, breadcrumbs, onion, spices and barbecue sauce. They didn’t take that long to make and they tasted better than a real burger!!

  Unfortunately, I did burn them…

But, I was literally able to pick the black stuff off…

And they still tasted amazing!! William (who is five) ate half of one and Emma (who is seven) managed to eat all of hers. Jeff and I both devoured two each.

The only thing I would do differently next time would be to process the black beans with the food processor rather than mashing them…and only because the kids weren’t big on the chunks of beans.

Wow, can you believe I have a whole week in without eating any meat or animal products? I feel great and am still very happy and comfortable with the decision I’ve made. And, I’m excited to keep learning!

Awesome Adventure Day and Vegan Day 6 (A day-late post)

Years ago, when Jeff and I had just started dating, we had adventure days as often as we could. The outdoors was that awesome thing that brought us together – our shared love of hiking, biking, kayaking, beaching, swimming and camping. We still do all that stuff, regularly, and we still love it. But…it’s very rare these days that we get the chance to do it with out kids trailing behind. But, yesterday was a reminder that doing this stuff together is important. It’s what brought us together and it’s what will keep us together.

So yesterday, we took the day off work, arranged for my parents to pick the kids up at the sitter’s and embarked on a good-old-days adventure. We started out with an hour-long hike where we were picked up and carried away by mosquitos… Well, almost. Even with the bugs, it was a delight to walk through the woods together without anyone whining that their legs were tired or fighting over who gets to be in the lead or falling flat on their faces… I mean, I stumbled a few times but…

After the hike, we went for a bike ride on a beautiful trail near Brackley Beach. It was heaven. Then, after we loaded the bikes back onto the truck, we made our way to the beach where we did nothing but lay on our towels in the sand for over two hours. We finished the day off with dinner downtown followed by more cashew milk fro-“yo”. Best day in a very, very long time. 

And, I learned that eating out when your a vegan is pretty limiting. But, I still managed to find vegan options and I didn’t even cry while Jeff was eating his Brickinator Burger Love from the Brickhouse. I just ate my $12 tomato and avocado salad that consisted of a tomato and half an avocado and felt grateful for such a wonderful day!

This is MY Journey (Vegan Day 5)

Day five was a pretty good day. I did the same breakfast I’ve been doing all week and I did leftovers for lunch. Sounds boring but it was all good. Dinner time presented some unique challenges. I was supposed to be heading to a fitness class, but things went sideways and I couldn’t get there. Instead, I took my 15-year-old son and my 16-year-old nephew through the drive through at Dairy Queen…where they ordered burgers and Blizzards…and I was sooooo hungry. And there was literally nothing vegan on the menu….so…I stayed hungry. Fortunately, my husband saved the day. He barbecued burgers for himself and the younger kids while I was out but was thoughtful enough to throw a veggie burger on for me…thanks, babe! And, even better, my 19-year-old daughter brought me this:

Cashew milk fro”yo” with all vegan toppings. I am a happy camper.

To back up a little, on my lunch hour today, after I ate my leftovers, I decided to go for a walk. I didn’t have workout clothes with me, except for my sneakers, but I threw them on with my dress and away I went. I ended up strolling along the boardwalk not far from my office. It was a beautiful day and there were tons of people around. As I started out, I saw a very athletic-looking woman in shorts and a tank stretching out her muscles and, immediately, I felt self conscious. I felt embarrassed for walking in my sneakers and dress instead of being a serious athlete out for a run. I looked at my not-so-lean body and I felt inadequate.

Then, I kind of had an epiphany. 

Today, MY journey was a moderately-paced walk in my dress and sneakers which, for me, was better than not getting any exercise at all simply because I didn’t have gym clothes. MY journey was not the same as anyone else’s out there on that that boardwalk. There were hundreds of people around – some were alone, some were in pairs, some were in larger groups. Some people were strolling leisurely, some people were walking at a moderate pace and some were running. Some people were sitting on benches looking out at the water. Some people were walking dogs. Some people were pushing strollers or chasing toddlers. Some people were riding their bikes in the bike lane. Hundreds of people were around, all of whom were on their own journey.

That is an apt description of every aspect of life, isn’t it? We’re all just on our individual journey, doing the best we can in any given moment. We might cross paths with others and smile and nod hello, we might even walk side-by-side with someone for a while, hand-in-hand, going in the same direction. But, even if we’re going to the exact same place, we’re still on individual journeys. 

We hope that our family members and loved ones will walk paths close to our own because we love them and want to feel close with them but, ultimately, we have to support them in their own personal journey.

I think sometimes we waste energy trying to influence the path another takes. Instead, maybe we need to realize that our way of travelling through life may not be right for someone else. I think we also often feel offended when someone we love does not modify their own journey to be nearer to us. But, really, that’s unfair. If we love them, we should want them to take the path that leads to their joy and happiness, not to our own.

I am incredibly guilty of often wishing people would bend to my will. Of feeling frustrated and angry when they don’t adapt their journey to fit better with mine. Today I realized that I just need to remind myself that this is MY journey and no one else’s. And, others’ journeys are theirs alone. And we can walk together for a while when it suits but it’s also ok to have different ideas about how to get somewhere or to have different destinations entirely.

Vegan – Day 4…and a Little Philosophy

I kinda feel like I have this vegan thing in the bag… Is it too soon to feel that way? Today’s challenges: I took my 15-year-old son for a milkshake this afternoon and felt a little sad that I couldn’t have one. But, then, I realized I didn’t even want one…so there was no reason to feel sad. Challenge 2: This evening I invited my husband and younger two kids to come with me to take the dog for a walk. I instantly thought it would be fun to walk to our local dairy bar… It was a little weird realizing that being vegan meant treats like that would have to be researched in advance and we’d have to seek out venues with vegan options. But, for tonight, it was no big deal, because I remembered we’d already had a frozen treat after supper… The mango-lime frozen treats that I made last night! They were a huge hit and consisted of nothing but mango, lime juice and zest, coconut water and a few drops of liquid stevia. No added or refined sugar, no gelatin…no leftovers! They gobbled them all up! Next time I’m going to try making them with strawberries and vegan yogurt!

Oh, supper was also a major success. I threw a batch of brown rice in the steamer last night while I washed the mountain of dishes. Tonight, as soon as I got home, I tossed it in the wok with some olive oil and added some frozen peas, a can of (rinsed) black beans and some frozen edamame. I wanted corn…but I didn’t have any. I tried to think of some kind of sauce that my kids would eat…but they’re not big on sauce….so, on a whim, I threw in some of my homemade taco seasoning and some extra cumin. Everything was sticking to the bottom of the pan by this point so I threw in some water, turned the heat down a little and put the cover on the wok. A few minutes later, I had this.

I was pretty convinced that the kids wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot pole…let alone put it in their mouths… There were mysterious green things in it after all…not to mention (gasp!) beans. But, I put a few dashes of soy sauce on each of theirs and they gobbled it up without question. They did sing a few rounds of “Beans, beans the magical fruit…” …with some interesting sound effects. My 7-year-old ate every bite of hers and my five-year-old left only a few mouthfuls of his. I was shocked…but said nothing…because I didn’t want them to think that eating this meal was anything out of the ordinary.

On a philosophical note, all this success has gotten me to thinking about how it’s never to late to do what we think is right. For me, right now, that means changing to a plant-based diet. I’m not suggesting that’s right for everyone, but it’s right for me at this time in my life. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been eating meat and animal products all along. What I was doing before does not dictate what I’m free to do today.
As we trudge through life, we are all just figuring things out as we go along. We don’t always know what is right for us in any given moment. And, what is right for us one day may not be what’s right for us the next day. There’s no harm in changing our minds about what’s right, there’s no rule that says we can’t turn around and start travelling a different path. Heck, there’s no rule that says we can’t change our destination entirely, mid-journey.

If we are going through life and we realize we’re doing the wrong thing, we have the prerogative to stop, reevaluate and make a change. And, the beautiful thing is, we can do this 100 times if we want to. There’s no limit on how many times we get to choose our own destiny.

I think so often we feel pressure – internal or external – to always be or do what we said (or thought) we wanted to be or do in the past. We said we wanted to go to school to work in a certain field…so we have to work in that field. We said we wanted 2.5 children by the time we were 30, so that’s what we need to do. We said we felt strongly one way about a certain issue, so that’s how we have to feel. But change happens and there’s nothing wrong with adapting as we go. 

It doesn’t matter how far down the “wrong” path we’ve travelled, it’s never too late to go a different way.