Sunday, February 27, 2011

I DID IT!! : )

So I did it, 7 whole day without eating any meat, cheese, milk, eggs, etc.  And I am extremely proud of myself!  Sadly I honestly don't feel any different.  Same energy level and I didn't lose an ounce of weight.  I took my blood pressure yesterday and it was still in the pre-hypertensive zone.  So I really don't know what to think, but the point is I was open minded, I tried it and I succeeded!

Michael insisted that I pick where we went to eat (I think he felt bad after I suffered though Outback yesterday), and I really couldn't pin point a craving.  We ended up at Red Lobster and it was phenomenal!  

Day 7: The True Test - A Trip to The Outback

Breakfast:  Bagel and Light Chocolate Soy Milk
Snack:  Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Lunch:  Amy's Kitchen Breakfast Burrito
Dinner:  Dry Salad and Egg-less Pasta with Artichokes, Sundried Tomatoes and Olive Oil

Saturday started off like any normal day, it was my last day of being a vegan and I was still not having any cravings yet.  I decided to do something different for breakfast and I wanted to try out my non dairy cream cheese, so I had a Thomas Bagel, which is PETA vegan approved.  I bought the thin ones thinking they would be great for sandwiches, but unfortunately it they were too small to fill me up.  So a couple hours later I made a peanut butter and banana sandwich, which I would normally put honey on, but apparently there is a big vegan debacle about whether a "true vegan" eats honey.  So I skipped it. 

My boyfriend came from Charleston later in the day and we had a late lunch.  We both had an Amy's Kitchen Burrito, mine was a breakfast one that had potatoes, tomatoes, and black beans.  Michael had and Indian one that he had been eyeing in my freezer ever since my first vegan shopping trip.  It was curry, spinach and tofu.  Both were pretty good.

Then the call came.  My same dear friend, Emily, who tempted me with the wine, invited us to go out to dinner with her and her husband, to yes....Outback Steakhouse.  It is important to know that Michael and both really enjoy going to Outback and it is one of our staple dinner spots.  Craving a steak and the Ahi Tuna appetizer?  We go to Outback.  So obviously my first response was no, and Em felt so bad when she remembered I was on the LAST day of my vegan week.  But I also told her I would talk to Michael and see if he wanted to go. 

Of course he wanted to go.  I immediately started obsessing over what the heck I was going to eat.  I mean seriously vegan's don't belong in a steakhouse!  But this was the point of this whole process, and I felt that I should be willing to accept this challenge.

Thanks again to, I was again able to find "something" I could eat.  I wasn't raised to be a picky eater and I hate having to be that pain in the butt that the waiter dreads.  So I ordered what the website suggested.  The pasta with the aritchoke and sundried tomato topping that goes on a fish dish that they have, without the sauce (which contains butter) and just have them put some olive oil on it.  I also got the blue cheese chop salad without the blue cheese and used the dip that comes with the ahi tuna as a "salad dressing."

Well, he got the salad right, but the pasta came out covered in the butter sauce (it looked quite yummy).  The poor guy did not have a clue what I was talking about.  My boyfriend pipes up and says that I needed it "vegan" and to tell the cook that, and though he acted like he understood, but he just didn't get it.  So while my friends all enjoyed their juicy medium rare steaks, I waited for my pasta to be re-prepared. 

After about 15mins, my friends were done already, my order came....and had Parmesan cheese on top!  I told him it was perfect, scraped the top layer off and ate the bottom.  It wasn't the worst thing I have ever had, the artichokes were really good, but let's face it, it was pasta with olive oil, and the worst part, it was $12.  My usual order, "The Outback Special," is $9.99, and the salad is at least included with that.  Moral of the story, if you are don't belong in a steakhouse, which I am sure you are already quite aware of.

The funny part of this ordeal is that my dear boyfriend thought if he said "he" wanted to go, that I would give in and get that damn steak (he even ordered the ahi tuna : ( ), but I didn't.  I pledged to do this for a week and I stuck to it even though the greatest challenge and for that I am very proud of myself! 

Oh and I forgot to mention I also had cocktail while I was there, too many steak knives around not to!   

Day 6: TGIF Wine and Pizza

Breakfast:  Steel Cut Oats with fruit and nuts
Lunch: Annie Chun's Kung Pao Noodle Bowl and Oreos
Dinner:  Amy's Vegan Pizza

Finally it's Friday, I am almost there.  I have my normal breakfast and for lunch something a little different.  I have had Annie Chun's Soups before, probably not vegan one's, and never a noodle bowl, but it's something quick and easy at work.  This one was actually pretty good.  I left the water in it and made it more of a soup.  This is a very specific diet friendly brand.  They have symbol on the bottom saying if they are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc. 

Shortly after I got home from work, one of my best friends called and asked if I would like to partake in a bottle of wine with her?  My original plan for this week was not to have soda or alcohol.  Most are "vegan" but I didn't think it went with the typical vegan lifestyle.  But who can say no to a friend?!  Plus I had already had a Diet Coke this week.  : ) 

And for dinner a frozen vegan pizza.  Although, it definitely tasted like "health food" it wasn't all that bad.  I would eat it again.  The crust was very thin and crumbly, but the sauce tasted like fresh tomato sauce.  We won't talk about the "cheese" but it was there.  I will probably try out one of the non vegan Amy's Kitchen pizza's at some point, they had some pretty tasty flavor combination.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 5: Tacos!

Breakfast:  Same Oatmeal Combo and a Monster
Lunch:  Leftover Black Bean Soup with Soft Tortillas and Oreos
Dinner: Tacos and a Salad

Tonight's dinner was much more tasty than expected.  Let's see, I used fake meat, fake cheese and fake sour cream....sounds terrible huh?  Hence my surprise.  I bought a taco kit, which I couldn't tell you the last time I bought one of these.  I usually like to do my own thing, but this was PETA approved so it made it easy.

It was a super easy meal to make.  I was a little unsure about cooking the "meat," and didnt' realized that I needed to put olive oil in the pan first, but once I got that figured out it was smooth sailing.  I preferred the crunchy shell over the soft, but both of them were pretty good and I would highly recommend for someone just trying to switch over.  And combined with everything else, the vegan cheese and sour cream tasted like normal cheese and sour cream.  I would usually make black beans and Mexican rice with tacos, but since I had black bean soup for lunch, I switched that for a salad.

I must say that I am extremely surprised at how easy this vegan eating style been adapted into my everyday life.  Although I did a lot of pre-planning, I already had a lot of items in my kitchen that I could eat this week.  Katie, my partner in crime, has admitted this she is over it and is the dreaded "hungry," which is honestly where I thought I would be at this point.  I am by no means saying that I plan to carry this on long term, but I think I could incorporate a few of the new things I have tried into my regular diet.

Not All Vegan Cookies Created Evil

The other day I posted about eating an absolutely terrible vegan cookie.  Well, I had purchased two different kinds and even though my first experience was so horried I gave the Pumpkin Spice a try and to my surprise it wasn't too shabby.  The texture was a little off, but it had a nice flavor and I wouldn't be afraid to try a different kind of this brand.  Also to my surprise the company is located in Wheeling, WV.  : )  Thank you World's Best Cookie, for creating a cookie vegans can enjoy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 4: No Soup, A1 and a Diet Coke

Breakfast: Steel Cut Oatmeal with my usual fruit and nuts and a Monster
Lunch:  Amy's Frozen Mean Vegetable Korma, Hummus with Rice Chips and a Pumpkin Spice Cookie
Dinner:  Black Bean Veggie Burger with a "Veggie Slice," Tomato and Avocado, Spaghetti Squash, Breaded Mushrooms and a Salad

Since I have had soup everyday this week I decided to not have any today.  Breakfast was my usual, lunch I just grabbed something quick and easy to take to work and by dinner I was so overwhelmed with choices I almost had one of everything. 

I have yet, knock on wood, to have a craving and have been pretty happy with my choices so far.  I did have my first Diet Coke today, which although is considered ok, I was trying to avoid.  It was solely for alertness purposes and didn't do a good job with that.

I also made a very exciting discovery.  A1 is VEGAN!  I just assumed there was some sort of beef base in there, so with my black bean burger I enjoyed it's yummy goodness! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 3: Eating Out & Flourless Bread

After looking back on yesterday's food intake, I realized I really didn't have too many veggies, which was kind of the point.  Yes there was celery, carrots, corn and tomatoes in the black bean soup, and whatever is in the "veggie shreds," but I would have had more veggie in a regular non-vegan meal.  So today I decided to do better. 

Breakfast:  Steel Cut Oats with Walnuts, Golden Raisins, Dried Cranberries, Cinnamon and Brown Sugar and a Monster Energy Drink
Lunch:  Max & Erma's Apple Pecan Salad (minus the cheese) with Balsamic Dressing and a side of French Fries with Heinz Ketchup
Starbucks: Mocha Latte Made w/soy milk no whip
Dinner:  Canned Progresso Tomato Basil Soup and Grilled "Veggie Slice" Cheese Sandwich on Flourless Bread
Snack: Spinach cooked with nondairy butter and lemon juice (might sound vegan, but this is a usual snack for me, I love spinach)

The real test today was eating at Max & Erma's for a work lunch meeting.  Katie went too and our boss told up beforehand where we were eating, so we were able to do some research.  I was really shocked at how little nutritional information Max & Erma's offers.  I thought that sort of information was required, but apparently I was wrong.  Thankfully there is a site which I was able to find some info from 2008.  So from there I made my choice and there really wasn't much to choose from.  The sad part of this is that I ordered a side of french fries, which I normally would not get, but without much on the salad I wanted to make sure I didn't leave hungry.

I know I have had soup every day for dinner so far, but there is a very logical explanation for that, I love soup!  I could eat it every single day for both lunch and dinner and not get sick of it.  So with today's cold and rainy weather I decided on a vegan version of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

When I initially set out to find vegan food, I did notice that at both Kroger and Drug Emporium, people seemed to be loading up on this bread in the freezer section.  There were several to choose from so I picked a loaf of 7 grain and this is what I used this for my "grilled cheese."  I apparently didn't pay much attention to the package, because apparently I didn't need to keep the bread in the freezer, but it was ok since I was grilling it anyhow.  Pretty good bread, who knew!  (I added "cheese" to the top of the soup simply for plating appeal)

Beware of the Gluten Free Cookie!

So I thought I would treat myself with this $2 cookie that I found at Drug Emporium and my God it was awful!  I am not one to waste food, even if I dont' really care for it, but I threw half of this sucker away.  Now I understand some people are required to eat a gluten fee diet, and I respect that, but I feel terrible for them that these are the cookies they have to eat.  Lessen learned.....cookies need eggs! (Except for Oreos!)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day 2: Vegan Sour Cream and the Food Processor

Day two, still not too shabby.  Today is President's Day so fortunately I was off from work and decided that I might as well make another pot of soup.  If nothing else, I can freeze it and eat it after vegan week is over.  I love making soup and when I do I love using my food processor.  I can quickly chop up all my veggies and puree if need be in seconds and only dirty one thing.  Too bad I don't have a dish washer!

Breakfast/Lunch:  Same steel cut oatmeal combo as yesterday, but today I added some dried cranberries, yum!  I also had coffee with chocolate soy milk
Snack: Hummus and Salsa Rice Chips
Dinner:  Homemade Black Bean Soup with vegan cream cheese, veggie shreds and a tortilla

Initially this soup caused me some issues.  Frankly if you followed the recipe, it was completely bland and I thought I was going to end up tossing the entire pot.  Ugh.  I am a big soup eater and normally what I would do in a case like this....simple, add cheese!  But I can't do that, at least this week, so I went to the alternatives.  Vegan sour cream, which tastes nothing like sour cream, is super thick and has twice the fat and calories of my normal reduced fat sour cream.  So after some additional seasoning to the soup pot, I put a ladle full in my soup cup and then put a dollop of this "sour cream" on top.  Imagine my surprise when it plopped in and went straight to the bottom, so I stirred it up and tasted it and it actually made it taste better!  Then I thought why not add the Monetary Jack-Cheddar veggie shreds Monetary (which is completely gross on it's own, but this week is about trying new things).  Although it didn't add much flavor to the soup it did give the illusion of cheese and was gooey like real cheese.  After doctoring it up a bit it was actually pretty tasty.

Black Bean Soup Recipe:
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion (Diced)
  • 2 Celery Stalks (Thinly Sliced)
  • 2 Carrots (Thinly Sliced)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (Diced)
  • 2 T Chili Powder
  • 1T Ground Cumin
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 4-15oz Cans Black Beans
  • 1 Bag Frozen Corn
  • 1-14.5oz Can Diced Tomatoes
Heat oil in pot and add onion, celery, carrots and garlic, cook 5 minutes and add seasoning.  Cook for 1 minute then add veggie broth, 2 cans of beans and corn.  Bring to a boil.

Combine 2 cans of beans and tomatoes in a food processor and puree.  Add to soup pot, reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 1: Starbucks with Soy Milk and Veggie Stock

Today went off without a hitch.  Even with my wonderful boyfriend talking about bacon first thing this morning....he's a shit. 

Breakfast/Lunch:  Steel cut oats with gold raisins, walnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar and a Monster (energy drink that was surprisingly on the PETA approved vegan list)  No biggie here, this is my usual "work" breakfast

Snack 1: 6 pack of Oreos (also a surprise on PETA's list)

Snack 2: Olive Chips and a Soy Mocha Latte from Starbucks which was actually quite good, but had more fat in it than my usual nonfat mocha.  You win some, you lose some!  This chips are super good as well, the plan was to eat them with hummus, but I was way to hungry after grocery shopping to even get the hummus out of the fridge.

Dinner: Home made minestrone soup and light chocolate soy milk
Soup Recipe:
3 T Olive Oil
1 Onion (diced)
2 Carrots (thinly sliced)
2 Stalks Celery (thinly sliced)
1 Zucchini (quartered and sliced)
1 Cup Green Beans (1 inch pieces)
1 Quart Veggie Stock
2-14.5oz Cans Diced Tomatoes
1-14.5oz Can Tomato Sauce
Thyme, Parsley, Garlic Powder, Salt & Pepper to your personal taste
1-15oz Can Cannellini Beans (with liquid)
2 Cups Veggie Shell Pasta

Combine olive oil and veggies in soup pot, stir, cover and heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in stock tomatoes, beans and seasoning. Reduce heat, cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes.  Add uncooked pasta and simmer 10-15 minutes longer. 

The soup was pretty good, but I'm not going to lie it would be really awesome with a handful of grated parm cheese on top.  ;  )

Friday, February 18, 2011

The final cheeseburger

Well at least for the next week!  Today at work we decided to go out with a bang and order cheeseburgers from Fat Patty's, and then somehow ended up with cheddar bacon fries as well.  Yum!  Hopefully this burger will be enough to get me though the next week! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taste Test & Setting a Date

In anticipation of my upcoming diet change, I broke down and decided that I should try the "tofutti" ie vegan cream cheese, which was to my surprise not too shabby.  Definitely not the same a cream cheese, or even the same texture, but it was something that I don't think I would mind to eat on a cracker if in the case of an emergency, and I have heard there is such a thing as vegan bagels.  Checking nutrition label it had one less gram of fat and about 10 less calories than my usual 1/3 less fat cream cheese. 

I went on to taste my very expensive German chocolate cake ice cream, which was made with coconut milk and although the texture was different from regular ice cream, it was actually quite yummy.  I had my boyfriend try it and as skeptic has he is about this whole thing, he really seemed to like it.  If you like coconut, this is definitely work a try. 

So now I needed to set a date for my week.  Katie, a friend from work, has bravely decided to attempt the Week of Vegan with me, so the first step was to choose a week that would fit into both of our schedules without too much torture.  Between Valentine's Day, baby showers and work events we decided on the week of February 20th. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One hour in the health food isle

So last Saturday I decided to take the plunge and check out what to expect during my week of veganism.  The Kroger two blocks from my house does not have a huge selection so I decided to check out the Barboursville store, which has an entire section dedicated to health food nuts. 

At first it was overwhelming, surprisingly there were a lot of options for different products for people on special diets.  Some things didn't contain milk, some didn't have meat products, others gluten free, etc.  The trick was to figure out which didn't contain animal products, and to my dismay most of them didn't say VEGAN in big red letters across the front of the package.  So I started off easy with some plain old low fat soy milk, which I have had before and it's not too bad, lasts a really long time, and works great on cereal.  I also picked up some soy coffee creamer and then headed over to my favorite.....the cheeses!  Next came the frozen food.  After reading the labels very carefully I did find several frozen meal type thing like burritos and pizza.  I also spotted a coconut milk vegan German chocolate cake ice cream which I was extremely excited about, even though it was close to $6 for a pint. 

The dry goods were a little easy to spot because they contained less ingredients, and to my delight some products like Annie Chun's had a fancy line of symbols on the bottom of the box.  So I went on looking for the "vegan mark" and filled up my basket.

Towards the end of my shopping trip spotting products was already becoming easier and I did pick up a few things that I would have probably wanted to try without even considering that they were vegan.  So I headed to the self check out isle, I didn't want a cashier to think I was some kind of freak, and my bill totalled right around $70 for the "base" groceries for my week of eating vegan.  Once we set a date I will head back for fresh produce, which will hopefully be a pretty easy shopping trip.

When I got home the first thing I did was taste a slice of the "cheddar" vegan veggie cheese, and to my surprise, while it did not at all taste like cheddar, it did taste just like a plain old slice of American cheese with just a hint of "veggie" at the end.  If you put it in between two slices of bread, which is not vegan, you probably would think you were eating a regular old grilled cheese sandwich.  I put off trying anything else because I didn't want to scare myself, because now, with a $70 investment I am dedicated to trying this!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Could it be possible?

So yesterday's Oprah threw me for a loop.  Her and over 300 members at her staff chose to go vegan for a week.  Not only does that mean that they didn't eat meat, they also didn't have the simple pleasure of a glass of milk, an egg, or my personal favorite....cheese.  I anticipated that the majority of them would throw in the towel before the end of the week, except Oprah of course (her personal chef could probably turn a chunk of tofu and a bushel of bean sprouts into a gourmet meal), but to my surprise most of them didn't.  And even more shockingly there were very large men that had not only stuck it out for the week, but decided to go longer.  Could this be possible?  Could excluding animal products from your diet make you feel so good that you could give up the pure delight of a bacon cheeseburger?

This got me thinking.  I have tried to follow Weight Watcher's and while I did lose some weight, I didn't feel like I was eating a well balanced diet.  Most of the Smart One's meals are pasta and only contain a serving of vegetables or two at the most, and then I would hoard all of my points for desserts and Starbucks.  And while I love to cook, I was doing very little of it for the simple fact that it was easier to open up a can of soup or pop a frozen dinner in the microwave than to try to figure out how many grams of fat were in my homemade veggie soup.

So maybe I could give this a try.  Just for one week.  I could never give up meat totally, but I should have enough will power to last seven days.  We shall see.....