Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 14: Doing Great

I'm still chugging along just great. The cheese-lust has subsided a bit.

I have fallen back into the trap of eating a diet heavy in bread though. I need to remember to start with raw fruits and vegetables first. Yesteday I had an open-faced avocado and cashew cheese sandwich with sprouts and tomato. It was so good, but I probably didn't need quite that much fat even though those are the so-called "good fats" in nuts and avocado.

I read through Vegan With a Vengeance yesterday and got inspired by the tempting recipes. She believes in desserts, bless her, and they look really, really good. I'm also looking forward to making my own seitan at some point. I bet if I simmer that in fake chicken broth it'll taste "just like chicken." heh

Another recipe that immediately caught my eye was for the vegan Pad Thai. Oh yeah. THAT looked good. So did the Thai Green Curry. We have a few Thai restaurants here, though I don't know how vegan-friendly they are.

My favorite local restaurant is Tokyo-Seoul, a Korean/Japanese place. Even though one of  my favorite dishes, Tol Sot Bi-Bim-Bap (stone bowl bi-bim-bap) does come in a vegetarian version substituting tofu for the meat, I know that there aren't a lot of vegan dishes there. Very often even the tofu and rice cake dishes use some meat product. Some of the soups use a beef broth as the base, plus there are anchovies lurking everywhere. I think that even many of the kimchees and other vegetable side dishes use anchovies or anchovy paste.

I recall that when I was in Korea, the vegetarians on our teaching staff complained that it was very difficult for them to find anything that was meat-free. Ironically, the best vegan food I've ever had in my life was in Seoul at a place run by Buddhist monks. The Sanchon Temple is in In-sa Dong, a very arty district in Seoul. There you're served traditional vegetarian dishes by the monks and can watch performances.

Oh now I am craving kimchee-fried rice, one of the ultimates in Koren comfort food.  :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 13: Behold, the Power of Casomorphins!

I really am not having a difficult time forgoing meat or even eggs. Milk? Eh. I'm good with the vanilla soymilk in my coffee, and the Earth Balance vegan butter substitute is pretty damned good.

But cheese, oh my good, how I miss cheese!

One of my fervent beliefs is that a life without pizza is not a life worth living, so I am doing my best to make tasty, vegan adaptations of this staple. Thus far, I have tried a soy-and-gluten-free, rice-based faux-mozzarella from Galaxy Foods called Rice shreds. It tasted pretty good, and melted better than other brands of non-dairy, vegan cheeses, but it still did not come close to the gooey, melty heaven of real mozzarella.

For last night's pizza night, I tried out a recipe for cashew cheese for my own pizza; the girls got the real mozz because right before I made this switch to veganism, I had bought a huge 5-lb block of the stuff. At $20 a pop, I am not about to throw it out. Not only is that a waste of money, but I abhor throwing out perfectly good food. My goal is to not buy any more animal products, but as for the ones that I still have hanging about my fridge and my lingering in my shelves, I plan on using them up or donating them to a food pantry.

But back to the cashew cheese.

I typed "cashew cheese on pizza" into Google and found this: Vegan Cashew Cheese.

Vegan Cashew Cheese


  • 2/3 cup cashews (raw is best, roasted is still great, and try flavored cashews too)
  • 1/2 cup water (or slightly more)
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper (raw or roasted)
  • 1/4 small red onion (if you're cooking for a date, or more otherwise!)
  • 1/4 cup yeast flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves (see "red onion")
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (on the health food isle everywhere, or use lite soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (optional) if the cashews are unsalted

Put everything in a food processor and blend it until it's creamy. If it's too thick, add more water. If it's too watery, add more cashews. It should have a Cream of Wheat-like consistency, or just a bit thicker. For a pizza, spread it thinly over pizza sauce (it's very rich, so a little bit goes a long way), top it off with your favorite vegetables, and pop it in the oven. If the cashew cheese becomes golden-brown more than a few minutes before the pizza crust is done, cover the top of the pizza with foil.

My analysis:
  • I had to add more cashews (about another 1/3 of a cup) because the mixture as it resulted was just too soupy for me.
  • The addition of the nutritional yeast adds a somewhat cheese-like flavor, which leads me to wonder what role yeasts and fermentation play in standard cheese-making.
  • When baked in a pretty hot oven, it didn't soften, melt and spread on the pizza like mozzarella does, but it didn't burn to a crisp either.
  • The texture was quite pleasing on the tongue: smooth, rather creamy. It'd have been even creamier if I blended the nuts even more, I think.
  • The garlic, onion and lemon juice added a nice sharpness of flavor.
  • Perhaps next time I'll add my "pizza herbs" right to the cheese.
  • It'll be interesting to see how sitting in the fridge overnight has affected the texture: did it consolidate, did it separate etc?

All told, it made a delicious, healthy pizza.

Still, I have found several other vegan cashew cheese recipes, some of them using agar-agar (similar to gelatin but made from seaweed instead of collagen from animals) to "set" the cheese. I imagine I'll try them all at some point.

The perfect vegan cheese is like a new Holy Grail for me.

I know that a lot of people would read this and say, "Just eat the damned cheese already, Babs! Jesus!" I've already had people say, "Oh I could never live without cheese!"

Trust me, I know. (soapbox time)

I am motivated to cut out all dairy because by doing so, I'm eliminating a huge source of pretty unhealthy fats. For all the dairy industry tries to tout dairy products as a great source of protein, really, they're a larger source of saturated fat than anythng else. Legumes and grains provide better-quality protein than cheese and butter do, sorry folks.

That's just one health aspect. There are also reputable reports of how water contaminated with ammonium perchlorate (solid rocket propellant, aka jet fuel) has found its way not only into general drinking water supplies, but also the milk supply. If we are what we eat, then we are also what they ate. If they feed cattle crap, what does that make us?

Then there are the ethical reasons. Looking into the practices of agribusiness, which include many dairies, it's difficult to argue that the way our milk is produced is humane. If you want some real shockers, look into how dairy cows are treated and what end they come to. If you have illusions of happy, placid, retired milkers grazing on a sunny hillside, then I have a few books you could read.

For all of you hard-core, I-could-never-give-up-my-cheese, lovers of all things dairy, those of us lucky enough to live in dairy country dotted with mom-and-pop dairy farms ought to take advantage of fresh home deliveries. Supporting small farms is one of the ways we consumers can begin to take down the insane, unethical and corrupt agribusiness industry. (end soapbox)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Day 11: An Old Demon Raises its Head

The bulimic mindset is a difficult demon to exorcise. I'll leave it at that for now. :(

Also, very, very strange dreams last night including one in which I was pregnant, but had no idea who the father could be since I hadn't had sex for a year. Also, it was Thanksgiving and I kept inviting people to dinner at my house until I realized that I was the only vegan and I had no turkey. I sent someone out to get a turkey, more people kept coming and I was running around the kitchen, frantic, because I had overextended myself.

1 banana
1 cup of coffee with soymilk and stevia

Morning Snack:
leftover vegan pizza
1 glass of water


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 10: New Recipes Coming

I went to the grocery store yesterday and got some more veggies, fruit and a few vegetarian specialty stuff: vegan cheeses, non-dairy frozen dessert, tempeh, nutritional yeast, raw organic cashews. I've found some great-looking vegan recipes that I am dying to try out, like cashew cheese.

For today's lunch, I'd like to make a vegan cream of broccoli soup. We'll see how it goes. Also, finally, the last of the flatbread is gone. Thank god. I am totally powerless against it. The next time I make it I may have to freeze half the batch immediately so I won't be tempted to inhale it all at once.

1 banana
1 cup of coffee with soymilk and stevia
1 glass of water

Morning Snack#1:
Green Smoothie
  • 1 banana
  • 1 mango
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 scoop of Michael's Super Defense food powder

8 almonds
small handful of raw sunflower seeds
1 glass of water

Morning Snack#2:
1 glass of water
8 grape tomatoes
roasted red pepper and garlic hummus and sprouts with tomato on whole grain bread
warm carob drink
1 glass of water
1/2 a tomato with hummus
homemade pizza with vegan cheese
3 glasses of water

  • Recipes coming up for testing: vegan creamy brocooli soup; cashew cheese

  • I'll be making that carrot salad again soon.

  • I've ordered laptop lunch boxes for the girls' lunches. These are basically bento boxes. The girls are excited about all the things we can put in them. My younger daughter has really wanted a Dora lunchbox, so I thought that we could personalize her by decorating the top of the box with Dora pictures.

  • I wanted to test out the meltiness of the vegan cheese I bought the other day. It melted pretty well; it wasn't indistinguishable from regular mozz, but it actually looked like a typical frozen pizza when you take it out of the oven. You can still see the shape of some of the shreds. It browed well and tastes pretty good. I've heard good things about cashew cheese. Apparently it melts very well and can taste as cheesy as you want by manipulating the ingredients. Nutritional yeast is supposed to add a very realistic cheese taste.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 9: I think I've come down with something

I think that the stomach thing from the other day may have been viral. I feel a bit better than I did yesterday afternoon, but my throat is still sore. I am going to keep a focus on fruits, vegetables and lots of water today and see if that does anything.

Also, I am re-reading Fast Food Nation before I start the companion book to Food, Inc. The Food, Inc movie is coming to a city not far from me in July and I'd love to see it. When I was at the bookstore yesterday I also bought Vegan With a Vengeance and Diet for a Dead Planet. I can't wait to get into those too. There's nothing better than some good, old-fashioned muck-raking journalism!

Also on my eventual reading list are: In Defense of Food, Stolen Harvest, the Hijacking of Our Food Supply, and Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatments inside the US Meat Industry.

My reading wish-list includes several more books by Shiva Vandana and Peter Singer's writings on ethics. There's also a book on raising vegan kids that I'd like to get my hands on: That's Why We Don't eat Animals.

I've started up my subscription to Vegetarian Times and Yoga Journal. I used to get both of them a few years ago, but dropped them. I think it's time to start them up again. I'm breaking out one of my yoga tapes too.

1 banana
1 cup of coffee with soy milk and stevia

Morning Snack:
Green Smoothie:
2 flatbreads with crunchy peanut butter and sunflower seeds
1 fresh apricot

1 garlic portobello veggie burger
1 tomato, 1/3 English cucumber
1 glass of water


  • I really have to get back to drinking more water.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day 8: 3 lbs lost in week 1

3 lbs gone in a week, not bad. It's not as fast as when I was on the South Beach Diet a few years ago, but this works for me too. I'm betting that it's healthier.

I was thinking some more about why I got sick yesterday, and remembered that I found an old baggie of nutritional yeast and tasted a bit to see if it was still good. I honestly couldn't tell if it had gone bad - can nutritional yeast even go bad?- but it was the only thing I'd done differently, if my stomach problem was a food poisoning issue. I remember hearing a doctor say once that the vast majority of sudden-onset stomach problems are because of some sort of food poisoning. This was nothing close to the times I had serious food poisoning when I was overseas, but it made for an unpleasant half hour last night.

1 flat bread with peanut butter
1 glass of water
1 cup coffee with soy milk and stevia
Morning Snack:
Green Smoothie
2 bananas
3 rings of pineapple
2 oz baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup pineapple juice
3/4 cup water
2 T flaxseed meal
popcorn and water <--I went to the movies again, this time by myself :)

Afternoon Snack:
1 flatbread with guacamole, sprouts and sunflower seeds
2 glasses of water

2 flatbreads with peanut butter
3 glasses of water

  • I noticed when I came out of the movie theater that my throat was sore. At first I thogt it might just be from the air conditioning. A few hours later at home I realized that the glands in the roof of my mouth and my throat were all swollen hard. I began wondering if maybe the stomach upset from the previous day wasn't a viral thing that was now making its way through my system. I went to bed early.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 7: A whole week in!

7 days in and I've only had one serious craving for non-vegan food, and that was totally a stress-related craving, not a hunger one. I'm still struggling with what the best choice is for breakfast to set the stage for a good blood sugar level. Also, I think I could probably drop that one cup of coffee in the morning now if I really wanted to, going to every other day and then none at all. But I like my morning cuppa, so it stays for now until I find something better to replace it with. Yerba mate maybe.

1 banana
1 glass of water
1 cup of coffee with soy milk and stevia
Morning Snack#1:
1 flatbread with crunchy peanut butter
1 glass of water
Morning Snack:#2
1 jonagold apple
1 glass of water
1 garlic portobello veggie burger (I seriously have to come up with a recipe for these...)
melange of roasted vegetables with avocado lime sauce*
2 glasses of water
2 handfuls of sunflower seeds
Afternoon Snack:
1 flatbread with 1T guacamole, sunflower seeds and sprouts
1 glass of water
1 flatbread
This was small because I got hit with an upset stomach. I can't imagine what could have caused it because I wasn't eating anything terribly different. The veggies are all fresh, and washed well.

  • I think for the next few days I will try just a single piece of fruit for breakfast and then something a bit more substantial for the morning snack.
  • I am going to keep a sharp eye on carbs like bread and rice. I think that too much of even the whole wheat breads can throw my blood sugar off and start the cravings.
  • I am really annoyed at Blogger lately. It's screwing up my templates. I switched to the basic one until they work out the kinks or until I can figure it out on my own.
  • Ok, I think I've got the template problem squared away. We'll see.
  • Unsolicited comments about the diet piss me off. If people think that they ought to be free to poke at vegetarians, then the fat-asses out there ought to be prepared for criticism of every snack cake bite that they take. Really, just mind your own business, will you?
  • The other thing I've noticed just in one week as that all of a sudden people feel as though they have to justify their choice to eat meat and dairy.

    I'll say it again: I don't fucking care what you eat. There's no need to say, "Oh, I only eat meat occasionally. I eat mostly chicken or fish anyway."

    Good for you. I'm not your mom or your wife; I don't have to cook for you, you're an adult. I'm not judging you for your food choices, really. We're each of us only responsible for ourselves. When I say, "I don't care what you eat," I really, really mean it. No, really. No sarcasm at all; rare for me, I know, but there ya go. :)

*Melange of roasted vegetables with avocado lime sauce

  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into large florets
  • 2 onions, sliced thickly
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, peeled, but left whole
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 cherry tomatoes

  • 1 avocado
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of one lime
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T sunflower seeds
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • water

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Spray a roasting pan with olive oil (I use a Misto pump).
  3. Put the cauliflower florets in the pan and top with onion slices and garlic cloves Roast for 10 minutes.
  4. Take out and add the bell pepper and cherry tomatoes. Roast for an additional 20 minutes.
  5. Make the sauce by combining the avocado, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, sunflower seeds and spices in a food processor. Pulse until smooth, then add the water until you get the consistency you like.
  6. Serve the sauce over the roasted vegetables.
Note on recipe: Next time I may reduce the amount of garlic or use roasted garlic instead. Also I think I'll increase the amount of sunflower seeds.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Whole wheat flatbreads

These are great, satisfying flatbreads that go well with falafel, hummus, peanut butter, curried dishes, just about anything.

Whole wheat flatbread

  • 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 2 1/2 cps warm water
  • 5 to 6 cups of whole wheat flour (or a combination of whole wheat and bread flour)
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T olive oil

  1. In a large bowl, mix together yeast and warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes in a warm place until the yeast mixture is foamy.
  2. Add 3 cups of the whole wheat flour, one cup at a time, mixing well until you have a rough, shaggy dough that starts to drag on the sides of the bowl. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and oil, mix well and then add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a nice stiff dough.
  4. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead well for 8-10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
  5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and let it rise int a warm spot for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  6. Preheat a cast iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Punch down the dough and divide in half. Section it into 8 pieces. Roll out each ball of dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.
  8. Lightly coat the griddle with cooking spray.
  9. Place a round on the griddle (mine can hold two at a time). Let it cook for 15 second, then flip it. Let it cook for about a minute until bubbles start to form, then flip it back over and let cook another minute.
    Repeat with remaining dough.
  10. Wrap the breads in a tea towel to keep warm.

This will smoke the hell out of your house, so have the windows open and the fans cranked, but it is so worth it.

Day 6 : Refreshed

Yesterday I was cranky and irritable after the stressful meltdown I had with my kids. We had some long heart-to-hearts last night about behavior and why we act the way we do. We each pinky-swore that we were going to do out best to think about what's right. *sigh*

For me, I have to count to 10 before losing my shit. The girls though. OMG do they fight with each other over the littlest thing. They still seem to be in competition for my attention.

Anyway, I woke up feeling refreshed. We all did. I made sure we went to bed a bit earlier. I got a fan for each of us to have in our rooms, and I opened the windows. This morning everyone was more cheerful. I wasn't starving. It was like starting over with a clean slate. :)

1 cup of coffee with soy milk and stevia
1 glass of water
6 almonds
1 banana

Morning Snack #1:
Green smoothie
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 mango
  • 4 oz baby spinach
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 ice cubes

1 garlic portobello burger
1 tomato
1/2 zucchini
1/3 large English cucumber
2 T hummus
pumpkin seeds
crunchy sprouts
alfalfa sprouts
1 glass of water
Afternoon Snack#1:
3 small spoonfuls of pb straight out of the jar
6 almonds
10 peanuts
8 dried blueberries
2 glasses of water
Afternoon Snack#2
6 peanut butter energy bites*
3 small whole wheat flatbreads
2 glasses of water
1 flatbread
1 glass of water

  • I sat down with the girls and watched Supersize Me with them. What they managed to understand of the movie amazed them. I'm glad. I think that they're beginning to understand why I don't want them eating fast food. I hope that they remember this movie and see why I'll say "No," to cruising through the drive through.
  • I think that the next time I have them overnight, I'll suggest the next morning that we do a yoga or a workout video together. They really like it when we do something all together, and this is a good opportunity to get all three of us active together. Lucy is always picking my Turbo Jam videos and asking to do them. I keep saying no because I feel as though I'll look like a fat pig. How stupid is that?! I feel guilty for discouraging her because of some sort of pride or vanity or something. I need a bitch-slap to the head.
  • I'll look into the local mega-YMCA too and see how much a family membership is and what facilities and lessons they offer.
  • I got really hungry at about noon. I decided to make my homemade falafel and flatbread for dinner, but while I was waiting for the bread to rise I was craving peanut butter and whipped up the PB energy bites. Then, of course, when I was making the flatbreads, I scarfed down three right as they came off the griddle. I may do something lighter for dinner and save the falafel for tomorrow.
  • Maybe I should have had the green smoothie first thing instead of waiting to eat breakfast.
  • Carbs are my downfall, bread especially. A lot of fruit and vegetables tomorrow.

*Peanut Butter Energy Bites

I whipped up this recipe on the spur of the moment. Not bad.

1/4 cup peanut butter
1 T agave nectar
2 T sesame seeds
1/4 cup wheat germ
3 T flaxseed meal

Mix all ingredients well with a spoon and then shape them into balls and and roll them in a mixture of additional flaxseed meal and wheat germ.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 5: Energetic Bordering on Manic

Last night, I don't know if it was because it was a bit warmer or what, but it took forever for me to fall asleep. When I was lying in bed, wide awake at 2 am, staring at the ceiling I thought, "Oh boy am I going to be hurting tomorrow morning."

But no. I woke up at 5:30 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, not ravenous, not dying for caffeine.

I don't get it. I'm either on the verge of a hypo-manic episode or eating healthy for 5 days has had a significant effect already!

I'll be making that carrot salad again. My older daughter requested it. I am very pleased that the girls are taking an interest in what I'm doing and deciding to give it a try themselves. They fell in love with soy milk yesterday. We'll see if a few weeks of no milk might not improve my younger daughter's stomach issues.

1 slice whole-grain toast with peanut butter
1 glass of water
1 cup of coffee with soy milk and stevia

Morning Snack#1:
1/4 cup diced jicama* (see Notes)
1/2 tomato hollowed out filled with 1 T hummus
12 almonds
1 glass of water
1 garlic portobello burger
1/3 of red bell pepper
1 tomato
1 zucchini
crunchy sprouts
1/4 cup hummus
2 glasses water
Noon Snack:
1 glass of water

Afternoon Snack:
popcorn (no butter)
1 glass of water

2 slices whole grain toast with pb
3 glasses of water
Late Snack:

  • Man, I am hungry today! I didn't sleep very long last night, and I'm not tired, but I am hungry.
  • I am also craving salt.
  • About jicama. This has been touted as the "Mexican potato," probably thanks to the popularity of low-carb diets. I've read in several places that we can replace our craving for french fries and other potatoes with jicama. It's got a very low glycemic load, so it doesn't have the carbs to spike our blood sugar. They say you just slice it up, sprinkle a little seasoning on it and presto! Guilt-free fries!


    Now I actually like jicama; it provides a satisfactory crunch and has a light taste, but it is in no way potato-like despite its appearance. It is juicy and slightly sweet. The best way to describe it is as a cross between a water chestnut and a pear. It makes a lovely snack, but if you bite into one expecting the lovely, greasy mouth-feel and tongue-dancing saltiness that you get from fries, you'll be seriously disappointed.
  • OK I know I said this earlier, but oh my GOD, I'm hungry. It's 10:50 am and I'm having my second morning snack. I wonder if this is tied to the pb toast I had for breakfast. I've also noticed that I need to keep up my water consumption.
  • I have noticed that the nights I have my kids here it's a little more difficult. I get scattered and distracted when I'm running around taking care of them. The stress level is higher, and I've long known that one of my responses to stress is to cope with food.
  • (6 pm)Wow, do I ever react to stress with food and food cravings. We had a busy afternoon. I took the kids to the movies and we shared a plain popcorn and had bottled water instead of soda. Everything was fine until the ride home, when they started fighting. I started yelling and immediately I craved nachos. Salty, cheesy, crunchy, greasy carb-heaven. And soda. Sweet, sweet liquid Satan. Even as I made my dinner of peanut butter toast, I knew I should be eating a salad of fresh raw veggies.
  • (8 pm)I am sitting here, tired, cranky and irritable. I have that itchy feeling I get when I don't want anyone near me. I'm snappish still because I will get no break from the kids until tomorrow. If I were married, I could leave the room and go off by myself while my spouse took a turn with them. I have no escape. Hell, I told the kids that before I was going to make supper was going to to take a nice calming shower, and the younger kid had to come in and pester me because "I just want to be with you always, Mommy." Yes, even while I am shaving my pits. Jesus I need some locks on these doors.
  • The thing is, I am not hungry at all, the craving came about as a knee-jerk reflex to my stress level going up.
  • My energy level has tanked because I got so ticked off earlier.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Skeptics and Haters

Wow, there's nothing that brings the skeptics and haters out of the woodwork like saying the word "Vegan." Why is that?

I think that it's because people's knee-jerk reflex to "Vegetarian" or "Vegan" is the apparition of a militant, proselytizing neo-Hippie who's not happy unless everyone else is perpetually unwashed, wearing hemp and reeking of patchouli. Also, lots of people invariably think that Vegetarians and Vegans are going to start attacking everyone else for their food choices.

So I say to the haters and skeptics, "If you have that urge to Poke a Vegetarian, think first and then shove it."

*deep cleansing breath* Ah, I needed that.

I'm only on day 4 and already I've been hit with some of the predictable responses. Let's take a look:

  1. "Oh, you'll never be able to do it."

    This phrase is flipped out smugly with that knowing smirk.

    You know, when people imply that they know me better than I know myself, that pisses me off and makes me more determined to show them that they're presumptive assholes.

  2. "Next thing you know, you'll turn into one of those dirty hippies who smells like fenugreek and cabbage farts."

    Ok, sure. Trust me I won't eat enough cabbage to smell like cabbage farts, ever. I ate so much cabbage when I was living in Estonia to cure me of that forever. Also, I don't particularly care for fenugreek.

  3. "Great. So that means you're going to criticize every bite I take?"

    Don't flatter yourself.

    This may sound crazy, but I believe in an individual's right to choose, whether it's to eat meat, soy or both; drink water, booze or absinthe; smoke tobacco, sage or reefer. Unlike some more militant Vegetarians, I don't give a damn what other people eat, so really, why the hell should they care what I eat? I am not doing this to preach and be holier than thou while others dine on meat.

  4. "Are you crazy? Vegans all look sickly, pale and too thin!"

    Sure, like in anything, there are Vegans who go too far and are too thin and malnourished. I have seen plenty of fit and healthy vegetarians though. I think that keeping nutrition uppermost in mind will help. We'll see. :)

  5. "I just don't want you to over do it and get sick."

    This is from the same person who has told me repeatedly through my life, "Oh, you'd be so pretty/so much prettier if you only just lost some weight!"
    I swear, it doesn't matter what I do, this person has some way to put a negative spin on it. Talk about mixed signals! So I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't. So screw it. I plan on ignoring it.

  6. "You're going to lose too much weight!"

    Trust me, even with a limb amputation, a breast reduction and a hair cut, I will never be "too thin."

    According to the CDC, 66% of American adults (aged 20-74) are overweight or obese; broken down further, 34% are obese and 32% are overweight. For the first time, those who are obese have overtaken those who are merely overweight. Only 32% of adult Americans are of a healthy weight.

    Granted, a lot of this is from our sedentary lifestyle. A lot of the weight and health problems would go away if folks (me included) got up off their lazy asses and worked out 30 minutes a day.

    I think that people's perceptions of thin and too thin are skewed because the environment has gotten fatter. The norm is not a healthy one, so if I want to lose weight by eating fresh fruits and vegetables while eschewing meat and dairy, it seems to be a healthy way to go at it rather than overtaxing my heart and kidneys with high-fat, high-protein diet plans.

  7. "You're going to become some sort of eco-terrorist freak like those PETA people."

    Yes, the ethics of veganism do appeal to me, but no, I don't see myself tossing buckets of pig's blood or ketchup at people wearing fur or leather. I've always struggled with the thoughts of the once-alive animals as I was tearing into my burgers. I'd always been able to rationalize it for various reasons, like how damned yummy it was.

    I don't think I want to do it anymore, but I'm not going to tell other people what they can or can't eat.

That's not bad for only 3 full days under my belt!

It's weird, there's nothing like food issues to bring out vicious criticism and prejudicial attitude, whether it's looking on in smug satisfaction at the obese woman in line in front of you in the checkout aisle whose cart is full of snack cakes, chips and family packs of meat; in exasperation at the hordes of people at the end of the month using WIC to pay for their multiple carts laden with name-brand food; or revulsion at the neo-Hippies smelling of fenugreek and cabbage farts wheeling their carts stuffed with produce and soy products, right?

Why do people care so much? There seems to be an immediate reaction that other people's food choices reflect on their own. Someone may see the obese woman's cart filled with crap and think, "Well, it's no mystery how she got that way." Then, after seeing the health freak vegetarians cruise past, maybe those same people feel that the tables have been turned and the vegetarians are looking at them as if they are the fat woman in the muu-muu, so they go on the attack with "sickly," "freaky," and "crazy."


This will be a great opportunity for me to grow a thick skin.

Day 4 : 2 lbs gone

I stepped on the scale and I've lost a solid 2 lbs. Yay!

Ok, I can hear you now. I know it's "just water weight," people, but really, 2 lbs is 2 lbs whether it's fat from my ass or bloat from my waist. I'll take it. Don't be such a hater.

Green Smoothie
  • 1 1/2 bananas
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach

2 glasses water
1 multivit, 1 Evening Pr Oil, 1 flax oil, 1 fish oil
Morning Snack#1:
15 almonds
1 glass of water
1 cup of coffee with soymilk and stevia
Morning Snack#2:
Sweet and Spicy Carrot Salad Oh my, this is a good recipe!
1 glass of water
1 garlic and portobello veggie burger (I know, I've had these like 3 days in a row, but they're really good)
sesame and soy roasted asparagus and green onion
2 glasses of water
Afternoon Snack:
1 large apple (Jonagold) w/ peanut butter
2 glasses of water
Brown basmati rice & curried red lentils with cucumber and tomato (Still. What can I say? I made a bigger batch this weekend than I'd anticipated) <--I know that some carbs are trigger foods for spiking my blood sugar, but I wanted to test this out again with the rice. I ate less than I did before and got full quicker. Go figure. I did feel as though I was in a good blood sugar state today. No cravings.
1 glass of water

  • No headaches at all anymore, and the brain fog in the morning has dissipated and I've only had one cup of coffee per day for the past two days. That's a huge improvement over where I was last week!

  • There's more of a spring in my step now. I don't feel that lead weight dragging me down anymore. I know that that is probably mostly mental, since I've only lost two pounds, but the enhanced energy has got to be from eating better foods

  • I find that I am visualizing more. For example, my water consumption is way up, and with each glass, I imagine that it is flooding my system and washing out toxins. Now, who knows if it's actually doing anything, but I've always noticed that visualization has a huge affect on my state of mind.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sweet and Spicy Carrot Salad

Here's a recipe I'm planning on trying out soon. I'm not sure how much agave nectar I'll need because I've never used it before. I've read that it's a common replacer for honey, but it's not as viscous as honey. I'm planning on starting with a tablespoon of it and then moving on from there.

Sweet and Spicy Carrot salad


  • 2 teaspoons ground flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • juice of ½ lime
  • minced, fresh ginger
  • agave nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika
  • dash of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • mandarin orange segments
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, whole or chopped


  1. Put the ground flax seeds in a small bowl and add the hot water. Stir and allow to sit 10 minutes until thickened.

  2. Add lime juice, ginger, agave nectar, smoked paprika, cumin and s&p. Taste and adjust seasoning

  3. Put the grated carrots in a bowl.

  4. Add the dressing and mix well.

  5. Fold in the mandarin oranges and walnuts.

  6. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

High protein energy bars

I love to cook. I enjoy using tried-and-true recipes and tinkering with them to see how far I can go. I also love creating my own recipes from nothing more than the vague idea that "Gee, I bet that would taste good!"

I have a recipe from the bag of Bob's Red Mill Wheat Germ. I made these once and gave them to my kids, who loved them. I'll include the original recipe and add my comments on how I plan to adapt it.

High Protein Energy Bars


12 oz carob chips
8 oz peanut butter
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sunflower seeds (raw, shelled)
1 cup coconut, fine macaroon
1/2 cup sesame seeds (natural brown)
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup finely chopped walnuts


1. Melt together carob chips, peanut butter and margarine, then pour over and mix well with sunflower seeds, fine coconut, wheat germ, nuts and sesame seeds.
2. Press into buttered 9x13 inch pan.
3. Chill and cut.

Yields 24 bars

  • These were tasty, reminiscent of peanut butter-chocolate bars.

  • I made the recipe pretty much as-is with the exception of using butter instead of margarine. I never, ever use margarine. Also, I used finely shredded unsweetened, unsulphured coconut instead of the sweetened shreds.

  • My one complaint was about the texture of the whole sunflower seeds in there. I decided that the next time I'd make them I'd pulse all the seeds and nuts in the food processor to get a smoother texture.

Vegan adaptation:
  1. I am thinking of eliminating the margarine/butter altogether. I have never tried vegan margarine, and don't think that oil would be good in this recipe. We'll see.

  2. I will try melting the carob chips alone in the microwave in 30-second increments and then adding the peanut butter. If the texture isn't melty enough, I may add a light-flavored oil, but the peanut butter I like is Teddie all natural peanut butter, with the oil floating right there on the top, so I imagine that there's enough oil in there to get the right texture. If not, I may give a vegan margarine a try.

  3. I am definitely going to grind the nuts and seeds finely. I may substitute almonds for the walnuts though, just because I have a ton of them. I'm even wondering how essential that whole cup of nuts even is. I may reduce the amount by 1/2.

  4. I will probably line the pan with parchment paper or waxed paper so I don't have to butter it, because frankly, the idea of coating it with cooking spray isn't appealing.

When I do make these, today or tomorrow, I'll post a picture. :)

Day 3: Weird dreams & thoughts on my kids

Oh my God, my dreams last night! I had a ton of food-related dreams; some people were tempting me with bags of chips. Another time, I broke down and bought a bag of potato chips, but the cashier and bagger withheld them from me since my account was flagged as a raw foodist. Weird. There were also 2 erotic dreams in there. Holy smokes.

I first woke up at 5:30 to drag the trash out to the curb, then I laid down on the couch and fell right back into the weird dreams. Then I woke up craving peanut butter and toast. No headaches today and I'm doing great on just 1 cup of coffee.

Note: 10 am: Ok. I just got back from picking up Kid#2 from school because her "tummy hurts." She said that she doesn't feel pukey, just that her stomach hurts. This kids is more of a puker than her sister. She's a huge milk drinker and a grazer, eating smaller meals, but quite often. I asked her what she'd had to eat since I saw her last and she said that they had McDonald's last night and cereal with milk this morning. I have to say I wonder if that has anything to do with it. I am tempted to pull her off drinking so much milk and see if her stomach issues don't improve. Since this is a split-household, it's hard to keep track of what the kids are eating, and I don't want this to turn into some parenting contest either, but the eating habits we have when we are kids set the stage for the rest of our lives. *sigh*

1 slice whole grain toast with 1 T crunchy peanut butter
2 glasses of water
1 large cup coffee with soymilk and stevia

another glass of water
Morning Snack:
1 large apple (Jonagold, yum!) with peanut butter
1 glass of water
1 garlic portobello veggie burger
1 small zucchini, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
2 T hummus
1/4 cup crunchy sprouts
2 glasses water
Afternoon Snack:
2/3 of an apple
1 T peanut butter
1 glass of water
brown basmati rice with curried red lentils, chopped cherry tomatoes and chopped cucumber
2 glasses of water
30 pistachios
1 glass of water
small handful of trail mix
4 cherry tomatoes
1 glass of water

  • My hunger has leveled out, and my body has adjusted to the increase in water; I'm not running to the bathroom every 20 minutes like I was on Monday.
  • I'm taking my time eating, not inhaling my food and having at least one full glass of water (10 -12 oz) with each meal.
  • With the increased amount of raw vegetables and fruits, the food is bulkier, higher in fiber, I really feel fuller, longer.
  • No headaches at all today, which is a nice change; I've had constant headaches for the past 6 months
  • Ugh, me and carbs. It's only 3/4 of an hour since I finished eating the rice dish for dinner and already I am craving something. I think that the brown basmati rice is too much of a trigger for me. I need to re-read the glycemic index charts and keep choosing foods with lower GI numbers. I even added way more raw veggies than rice, but still feel the cravings. I did ok with the peanut butter toast this morning. I have eliminated all pasta from my diet; I may have to do the same with rice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day 2: Thirsty and Hungry

Well, I made it through the first day and it wasn't hard. I didn't have the insane carb-cravings I usually get at the beginning of the South Beach Diet, and to be honest, I didn't even have many carbs yesterday. The carob drink was a lovely surprise.

I also felt some spring in my step when I was out at the store. I didn't have that lead-weight feeling that has been plaguing me the past year.

I do have the headaches from detoxing as all the shit in my systems leaches out. I even had dreams about detoxing on a juice fast!

Green smoothie-
  • 3 bananas
  • 2 rings of pineapple
  • 3 oz baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Put it all in a blender and mix well.
  2. Drink!
  3. I drank about 2/3 of that and put the rest in the fridge
This was delicious. The pineapple-banana flavor took center stage. There was no hint of the spinach's bitterness, though it was most certainly green!
1 glass water
1 multivitamin, 1 fish oil, 1 flax oil, 1 EPO
1 cup coffee, soymilk and stevia

Morning Snack#1:
Babs's Warm Carob Drink (I was really cold and wanted something warming)

Morning Snack#2:
small apple with peanut butter
1 glass water

Morning Snack#3:

1 avocado, diced
1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilies, drained
juice of 1/2 lime,
salt, pepper and chili powder
2 glasses water
Note:(10 am) I am really hungry today. Maybe I need to have something with the green smoothie, or maybe I'm doing ok eating every 1 1/2hours or so. We'll see how this plays out.

garlic portobello veggie burger (from Veggie Patch)
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1/3 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup crunchy sprouts
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup of hummus

1 glass water
1 cup ginger tea

2 TB crunchy peanut butter straight from the jar
1 glass water
remaining 1/3 of the green smoothie

garlic portobello veggie burger
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1/3 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup crunchy sprouts
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup of hummus
2 glasses water
1 Evening primrose oil capsule, 1 flax oil, 1 fish oil

2 glasses water
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup of jarred salsa
1 Tb fresh lime juice

homemade corn and red pepper tortillas/crackers<--recipe still in flux
  • 1 cup coarse corn meal
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 1/3 of a red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • appr 3/4 to 1 cup very hot (near boiling) water
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Put corn and bell pepper in food processor, pulse until coarsely smashed.
  3. Add the corn and pepper mixture to the dry ingredients, drizzle the olive oil and mix well.
  4. Slowly pour the water and mix until it is all incorporated. Spread mixture onto a greased cookie sheet and flatten with a spatula.
  5. Spray the top with olive oil (I have mine in a Misto pump bottle) and sprinkle with sea salt
  6. Cook in a preheated 425° oven for 12 minutes, then flip it, respraying and salting. Put it back in the oven for 5-7 minutes.
  7. Take out and enjoy.

Ok, these were very, very tasty, but not quite dry and crisp. The next time I make this I may have to see if I can flatten them more, or perhaps add more dry ingredients, like more cornmeal or flaxseed meal for a drier dough. I could knead the dough with the extra meal. Perhaps I'll let them cook longer or even drop them by spoonfuls and flatten them that way instead of one large piece. The edges were browning nicely, so maybe smaller is the way to go.

  • I was quite thirsty all day
  • I woke up earlier than I have been the past 8 months and I did not wake up ravenous
  • My headaches were much less noticeable
  • There were times that I'd get up and move around, and I felt the absence of that heavy weight tied to my waist. I actually felt lighter.
  • I started out really hungry, but it leveled off by the end of the day.
  • Also, I meditated for a half hour. It felt good to start that up again.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 1 : Holy Detox Hell!

I am going to post my food journal here for now as a means to keep myself motivated. I kept an online weight loss journal when I was on South Beach, and it really helped me to focus.

1 medium apple with natural peanut butter
1 glass of water
1 multivitamin, fish oil, flax oil, evening primrose oil
2 cups coffee with Splenda and Silk Very Vanilla Soymilk

Morning Snack#1:
pumpkin seeds and roasted salted sunflower seeds
1 glass water
1 cup Vanilla Strawberry Rose tea, unsweetened

Morning Snack#2:
2 tomatoes, cut in half and hollowed out, filled with hummus
1 glass water

brown basmati rice and curried red lentils with chopped cherry tomato
1 glass water

Afternoon Snack#1:
roasted almonds and dried blueberries
1 glass water

2 tomatoes, hollowed out with hummus and sprouts
1 glass water

Babs's warm carob drink (see Notes)
Late Snack:
bowl of sweet corn with herbs
1 glass water

  • I went grocery shopping today and got a ton of great produce.
  • I also dug out my food dehydrator and juicer. I'd love to try some of the raw food recipes for the dehydrator like the veggie and flax seed crackers. I've also found several green smoothie and juice recipes that would make a good drink for breakfast.
  • I'm looking forward to making my favorite cleansing juice: apple, beet, carrot, greens & ginger. It's truly delicious.
  • I'd like to find recipes for the fruit and veggie pulp too. It's a shame to just toss it, such a good source of fiber.
  • I had a slight headache when I woke up this morning. Yesterday I didn't have the usual amount of caffeine, so I think that's where the headache came from.
  • I had another headache a bit later on and I remember getting them on the first day of the juice fast I did a few years ago, so that could be the body's natural response. Ironically, I did feel peppy today when I was out and about, so I think I can bear the occasional detox headache. :)
  • I may try making a warm drink with soymilk and carob powder. It might make a nice pre-bedtime snack.**

**I did make it and it's very tasty!

Babs's Warm Nighttime Drink

  1. Heat up some vanilla soymilk in the microwave for 90 seconds.
  2. Take it out and add carob powder and 1 packet of stevia.
  3. Stir well, mixing all carob powder thoroughly.
  4. Pop it back in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  5. Stir and enjoy. :)

The Future of Food

There is a revolution happening in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America -- a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat.

THE FUTURE OF FOOD offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade.

We all should watch The Future of Food.

I watched it this weekend immediately after re-watching Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me, and it made me even more conscious of the fact that most people don't think a great deal about what they are putting into their bodies. Eating has, by and large, become a mindless, automatic activity, and food preparation even more so with the preponderance of boxed mixes and frozen meals. I've always enjoyed cooking from scratch, and although I am a lousy gardener, I appreciate the flavors and benefits of the freshest produce possible.

After watching The Future of Food, I am even more determined to be mindful of what I am using as fuel for my body and why. Vegetarianism & veganism have always interested me both for health reason as well as ethical ones. In my love of meat, I have been able to eat it even though with each bite I have felt guilty about all the nameless cattle who walked into the abbatoirs to provide us with those delicious steaks.

For some reason, I have an easier time of it if I tell myself that I am doing this for health reasons. I guess you could say that I take my health more seriously than animals' health. For now, anyway.

Vegan Again

22 years ago I became a Vegan briefly.

Since that time I have run the gamut of diets and eating philosophies: South Beach, Ornish, full-fledged omnivore, but I've always come back to thinking about Vegetarian/Veganism.

Recently I've been feeling fatigued and cold all the time, have had problems with hair breakage and unexplained weight gain. I thought for sure that it was my thyroid, so I scheduled an appointment to see my doctor for my yearly physical. Many blood tests and one step on the scale later, we found that my thyroid was not the culprit, but that my cholesterol and other results were really quite good.

We guessed that my being a lazy-ass was the culprit. I resolved to start exercising, perhaps to take up morning yoga again. I thought that this might be a good chance to drop the meat and dairy from my diet. When I'd adopted a vegetarian diet back when I was 18, I lost a ton of weight fairly quickly. Unfortunately, I had not read a lot about how to maintain a vegan diet in a healthy way, and was unable to sustain it.

I've read a lot more since then, and with the powerful search tool of the internet handy, finding new recipes to test and like-minded people for support is easier than it ever was.

Here's to my journey. :)
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