Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Vegan vs Plant-Based Vs "Plant-Strong"

There's been a lot of hype lately about fast food restaurants offering vegan options on their menus. (Chipotle in particular.) YAAAY! I'm all for that. Particularly because I've been to a few networking functions lately where the entree choices were "beef, chicken or fish", which isn't particularly vegan (or even vegetarian!) friendly. I've made it work, though. I've picked cheese off of salads and asked for vegetable plates, but I haven't been that person who asks a million questions about how they cooked those tasty vegetables or mashed potatoes. Cause you can almost bet $100 that there's butter in them there 'taters.  And I just don't want to know. The point is that it has made me more sympathetic to the vegan / vegetarian plight when it comes to eating away from home.

So anyway, I've been following "Engine 2 Diet" on Facebook. They made a comment about all this fast food vegan malarky and gently reminded their followers that the options at fast food restaurants aren't "Plant Strong". I thought... "WHAT?!! How can a burrito with brown rice, beans, no cheese and loads of guac and veggies NOT be plant-strong?!?"  Well, it turns out that "plant-strong" isn't the same as "vegan" or "plant-based". The way I see it, vegan and plant-based are the same thing. "Plant-strong" is Engine 2's definition of a diet that is not only vegan, but it also cuts out things like any oil or salt. So.... it's basically HEALTHY-vegan rather than just "vegan". All of this just makes my head spin anyway. I'm feeling like I must be eating too many grains. Every meal I've eaten lately has probably had some sort of grain in it. Whole, of course, but still a grain. I think there's some changing and revamping that I need to do here. And don't even get me started about sugar. I KNOW that is the devil. D.E.V.I.L.

In the meantime, I'm still contemplating how I'll eat in California. It's only about 30 days into my 90-day experiment, and although I think it would be easy to fall waaaaaaay off the wagon while on holiday, I'm going to really try to keep it up. I'm not going to get picky about whether or not there's egg in my bread, but I am going to hold off on eating dairy or meat. If I can do that, I'll feel it will have been a good success! Just don't put me near a plate of bacon at breakfast....

So in the meantime, there's a glass of wine waiting for me!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Sigh. I haven't written in a while because I've been a bit disappointed with the whole thing. Just as soon as I wrote about the piggy pink tongue, wouldn't you know it - the next day my tongue was back to normal. TMI?? Anyway, it made me think that the results were just a fluke, just a one-off for that day, which then disappoints me because I want some freaking LASTING change, right?

And there's been no more weight loss. I think I lost about 1.2lbs that first week and then I haven't gone down any more since. Pfffft! It's been 27 days today! It really makes me want to know what my cholesterol is RIGHT NOW so I can see if this is actually making any other differences at all!!

The good news is that some of the stress of finding jobs for me and OE is relieved... today he signed a contract! YAAAY! Very positive and a step in the right direction for us. That's great! In the meantime, we've decided to head over to San Francisco to take advantage of his delayed start time and get some quality time in with friends and family. That's great... BUT... we're vegans, right? So I usually spend my holidays eating my way through a city. I love to try new foods, new restaurants, new bakeries... etc, etc, etc... and I just don't know how that's going to fly in San Fran. I mean, I know they must have loads of vegan restaurants- I mean, it's freaking California, right? - but it also means I need to be careful about what I eat and make a point of not tempting myself too much. ARGH! It will be worth it, though, right? RIGHT?!?!

So... that's the latest. Not exactly earth-shattering stuff here but I'm keepin on keepin on. I am still enjoying trying the new recipes from the cookbooks.. the latest was a chocolate cake from Happy Herbivore Light and Lean. Hmm... maybe that's why I'm not losing any weight.....

Oh yeah, and these Jamie Oliver recipes look mighty good too! Although not all of them are vegan, there are still some nice options there. The 'Shepherd's Pie' looks tasty!

15 Veggie Recipes to Make Meat-Eaters Jealous


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Stick out your tongue

So yesterday, OE asked me if I'd noticed any differences since I've been vegan for 17 days now. I thought I was losing some weight, but it turns out I've only lost about 1.5lbs. ARGH! I definitely thought it was going to be more by now. Then again, I guess it's a healthy loss because they say, whoever "they" are, that losing 1 - 2 lbs a week is pretty good going. What's wrong with wanting to be an over-achiever?! It didn't take me 2 weeks to put on this poundage, I guess it will take just as long to get it off.

Anyway, back to differences... as I was brushing my teeth a day or two ago, I stuck out my tongue like I normally do to brush it. I don't know if you brush your tongue, but it's something I generally do right before the final spit and rinse. Anyway, I noticed that it was pink. Like, evenly pink. Which probably shouldn't be a big deal, but I don't think that I could say with certainty that my tongue had ever been as evenly pink as it was (and is) now. Is this something that is happening as a result of my diet? I can only think so. If you've ever googled "tongue health" and seen some of the pictures that come up, well, don't do it on a full stomach is what I'll say. DIS.GUS.TING. I've never had anything like those photos, but I can say that sometimes it looks a little white-ish, or just not a nice piggy pink. And now that's changed! Oh, and by now, I am supposed to be dairy free.. I mean, my body has probably gotten rid of the proteins from any dairy that I was consuming before. Maybe that has something to do with it. Either way, I like this new piggy pink. I think I'll keep it for awhile.

So stick out your tongue and see what cha got!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

the devil is in the donuts

So I think I've been doing pretty well. 14 days in now and I've been able to keep away from the animal products. Tonight, however, was a test. Tonight my sister asked me to go to the grocery store and pick up some Krispy Kreme donuts for my niece's birthday at school tomorrow. And let me just say, HOLY freaking SMOKES.

I'm not actually a huge Krispy Kreme fan. (gasp! blasphemy!) Yes, there's that whole "hot donuts" sign and you get to have them all warm and gooey straight out of the oven, but in that way they are actually a bit too gooey for me. Too sweet. Maybe one bite and I'm fine, a few more and it's a bit too much. Not that it has ever stopped me from eating one, I dare say. I'll pound those down just like the next fat cat, but I can't say I loooooove them. But tonight? Tonight, even in their day-old, not-poppin-fresh state in the grocery store, they looked like sheer gold and I really wanted to cram one into my beak. I'm just being honest here. It was rough.

Fortunately, I didn't. And I'm going to stop thinking about it now and celebrate the fact that I'm doing a good job. I'm keepin it real and I'm making changes in my life that are going to help my health. Some day I'll be able to have one donut and it won't be a big deal. It will be a sometimes treat that I don't have very often. But I'm not there yet, not quite yet. And so today, I'll celebrate getting through today.

By the way, I've now added a few good cookbooks to the "cookbooks" section! They really are good recipes and I've been pretty pleased with the results, particularly because they don't rely on faux meat. Yeah, it's actually called "faux meat" in some other cookbooks. Are you kidding me?! Let's get real. Anyway, check 'em out!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

What I know for sure

Today is day 11 and I am pretty pleased that I've made it this far. We'll see how easy it is tomorrow when I have to go to a networking / learning lunch where they are serving, well, lunch. I don't know if it's a buffet or if they will have set courses, but I know there hasn't been a form or anything for me to fill out about "dietary requirements". And, even if there was, I don't know if I would have filled it out, because, although I maybe eating a vegan diet, I'm not sure I wanna be that person. You know, the one with all the dietary requirements. I figure I probably better eat a bit before I go and just hope that they aren't serving animal or dairy with every course, or that there's something on the buffet that I can snack on so I'm not drawing any unnecessary attention to myself or my plate. Man, do all vegans have to worry about this kind of thing?!

So anyway, I titled this post "what I know for sure", because at 11 days into this thing, I don't really feel like I'm any closer to answers about what I'm truly supposed to be eating. I mean, not to be vegan, just to be... um... in perfect health, I guess! Because I've spent the last few days (ok, not entirely by any stretch), but a few hours of the last few days, trying to read a lot of conflicting research about what you're supposed to eat. I've included the different sites in my "references" tab, and I haven't really nailed down exactly what people are saying, because people are saying different things!

For example, people who eat paleo (like cavemen), say that any grains are bad. They don't care if they are whole or not, just grains in general are bad so don't eat 'em. The reason they say not to eat them is because allegedly (isn't that what you're supposed to say when the evidence hasn't completely proven guilt?!), allegedly grains bump up against your digestive tract and make a mucus'y substance and release enzymes that aren't supposed to be released (that's the uber scientific version, you realize). But then on the flip side, others say you are supposed to eat grains (albeit WHOLE grains), because that "film" that develops is what helps keep your blood sugar from spiking and protects your liver! So... WHICH IS IT?! To grain, or not to grain!! I just don't know yet.

So... I'm going to keep reading. I will say that no one is suggesting that you eat more sugar. And no one is suggesting that you eat more refined carbohydrates. Everyone suggests that it's good to eat more green vegetables. So at least there's that.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Baby, it's cold outside

It's SOOO freaking cold outside today.  I don't even think it got up to freezing out there. It's bitter. And when it's cold outside, I want warm, comforting foods. Given the fact that I'm only 7 days into this shindig, the thought of a "cauliflower roast" still just doesn't cut it.

I kept remembering those ricotta stuffed shells I'd been tempted with a while ago. (Holy smokes, it wasn't even a week ago yet?!) Anyway, I kept remembering them and wondered how I could make a "ricotta" cheese that was vegan. Fortunately, Charlotte has a vegan restaurant nearby and a food delivery service. Why do I say that? Because when I read their menu items, I get ideas. And one of their menu items had a lasagna with a "white bean ricotta". That sounded do-able to me! So I looked online and found a "vegan ricotta" which included both white beans and tofu. Now, I don't like the look of tofu, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. So, I tried making it tonight and putting it into a lasagna with rice noodles (cause I couldn't find whole wheat lasagna noodles).

The results? Well, it was tasty! Both OE and my sister said that it was "definitely not a fail", which in my book, is pretty damn good when it comes to tofu! I don't think I put enough sauce in the mix so it ended up being a bit drier than I'd hoped, but I've done that with regular ol' lasagna sometimes, so I figure that's par for the course. I was pretty pleased with the result and started thinking of ways that I could make it even tastier... adding caramelized onion, mushroom, roasted garlic... lots of ways to add some more flavour!

I've taken a picture of it, but unfortunately this is after my sister shoved it into a tupperware container for leftovers...
so, it's not so appealing in the aftermath, but you get the idea. I'll also have to figure out my recipe and post it in the "recipes" section. How exciting!

Anyway, I'm pretty chuffed to bits (that's British for "proud") about that. YAY lasagna!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

WHOLE lotta love

I think there's a danger with the vegan diet, probably similar to a lot of diets, in that if you don't do it the way you're "supposed" to, it's just unhealthy. For example, you could eat loads of carbs all day, even if they are whole grain, and it wouldn't really be the kind of plant-based that's healthy as I see it. And you could eat salt & vinegar chips all day, still be vegan, but not be healthy. I think we all know that (as tastily addictive as they may be).

So I think I've maybe been eating too many grains. I've been luvin' the WHOLE grains, but maybe I'm getting too many of them. I'm not sure. That's one thing I'll need to check on. I figure I've got 5 food groups now.

  1. Vegetables
  2. Fruit
  3. Legumes
  4. Whole Grains
  5. Nuts and Seeds
And you know, that's potentially the order they should go in terms of quantity... I'll have to check. Maybe legumes should be before fruit... I don't know. The point is, you can eat a lot of whole wheat if you aren't careful. I figure I might need to start looking at (gulp) the green smoothie! (Eeks) Maybe that's one way I could get some veg into my quick morning routine. Stay tuned.

One thing that I noticed today was that I do feel a little lighter. Maybe not so bloated? And OE said he thought my skin looked like it was clearing. Not like I'm a pock-face normally, but he thought that it looked "clearer". So I figure that's good. I didn't really expect to see any changes for about 2 weeks... why? Well, because I'd heard that when you quit dairy (my sister's doctor told her), it takes about 2 weeks for the proteins to clear your body. One website I looked at said 3 - 4 weeks. I guess the changes will probably be gradual, at any rate. And if they are truly starting already, well, that's Day 6.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Day 5

Today was pretty stressful. Not because of the diet, I might add, just stressful in general.

Both OE and I are currently looking for work given our "recent" move back from overseas. I think it's always stressful looking for work... you send out all these resumes and wonder if somebody will like you enough (not the Facebook kinda like), to give you a chance at chatting with them about a role. It's like having your profile up on a dating website but not only aren't the losers calling you, sometimes nobody is calling you. It's stressful! Hearing good news is sometimes even more stressful (at least to me) because now you've actually got to deliver, right?! You've got to be even more sparkly than that piece of paper they "bought" the idea of you with. Thankfully today was good news, but either way you cut it - S T R E S S.

Anyway... the whole stressful day made me realize just how much I mindlessly eat when I'm stressed. No, I didn't do it today, because I caught myself. Let's be honest, it's not because of any insane willpower, but simply because I knew that there was no way I'd feel what I was hoping to feel after eating a carrot. Ok, maybe I'd feel better because I ate a carrot instead of a whole bar of dark chocolate, but that's because of the 'after-guilt-factor' of eating a whole bar of dark chocolate. You know what I mean. Carrots ain't what I was looking for today. So... I acknowledged to myself that I was 'jonesing' for some comfort food in a big way and I took a deep breath, drank a whole glass of water and thought - I will power through! So I am happy about that. Score one for me today!

The other thing that is actually helping me a lot is that damned cholesterol score of 231. Any time I think about cooking with oil, or want to eat something that I shouldn't, I think "TWO-freaking-THIRTY-ONE". It helps me. It actually soothes me in some ways - because I have no choice. If I want that number to come down, I've gotta make some better decisions. I mean, if not now... when?! So it actually helps to have that big number right now. If I didn't, well, maybe I would be more tempted, or maybe I'd sit there and think "man, how bad was I eating and my cholesterol was normal! I'm golden!" Alas, not so. Hmm... this revelation kind-of worries me, though. The realist in me says that once my cholesterol returns to normal, I might be tempted to go back to the old ways. What? Relapse? Nah... not meeeeee, I say. I guess we'll cross that bridge later after we figure out what this change in lifestyle does.

Five days down and I'd say it's going pretty well. I do still need to figure out the meal plans for the rest of this week, though. Awww, snap!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

A bitter pill to swallow

Remember how I got a blood test on the 12/31/14? Well, I got the full test results back today.

Total Cholesterol:  231
HDL:  67
Triglycerides:  78
LDL:  148
Chol / HDLC ratio:  3.4
Non HDL Cholesterol:  164

Um, yeah. In case you weren't aware, that's not good. Your total cholesterol is supposed to be below 200, even better below 180, ideally below 150 (mine = 231). Your LDL is supposed to be at least below 130 (mine = 148).  Only a few points higher in the total cholesterol and I'd be a candidate for medication. I'm 40 years old. WTF. WTF. WTF.

I was hoping that I'd see some changes in my numbers at the end of this "experiment", and I assumed that my numbers to begin with wouldn't be great, but not outside normal ranges. I did not expect that I would actually need to do this experiment! I mean, seriously??!

I guess it's the best outcome - I mean, without doing this, I wouldn't have been aware that my cholesterol was creeping so high. And thus, I probably wouldn't have been taking drastic action to make some real lifestyle changes. So... that's good. But seriously.... what a bitter pill.


Friday, January 2, 2015


Day 2 wasn't as bad as Day 1, but it had its moments. I won't say how, but I was mercilessly tempted with some very tasty looking ricotta stuffed pasta shells, some homemade macaroni and cheese, as well as some gooey brownies and soft-looking chocolate chip cookies. Some serious big-time comfort foods that just looked way to irresistible to resist. But, I did. YAY ME! It's those small victories, right? Whew.

So I was thinking a bit today about addictions. I read or saw somewhere (I'll have to find out where it was) that people can have food addictions that basically register activity in their brain similar to heroine addictions. Who would have thought? It makes sense, though... sometimes you feel like you've just got to eat something. Well, I do sometimes. It's a coping mechanism. And I imagine (because I really have no idea) that being addicted to a drug is very similar. Only, you have to eat food, and it somewhat surrounds you every single day of your life. I don't mean to say that drug addiction is easier to deal with (far from it!), what I'm saying is that food addictions aren't thought of in the same way or have the same type of taboos that drug addictions do. For example, if you're anything like me, you've sat around chatting with your girlfriends about how much cake you ate one night, or how you shouldn't have had that second helping of dessert, or how you stood at the food table all night at a party because at least you knew you wouldn't be bored, or boring. What? Is that just me?! Anyway... think if we switched food and drugs or alcohol in that situation. Alcohol might not be exactly the same, but I know my friends would do more than just raise an eyebrow if I said I'd practically overdosed at a party. Am I right?

I think this whole adopting a vegan diet is good for me to realize what I want from food. Am I seeking comfort or am I just looking to 'not be hungry'? At any rate, it's one day at a time. One decision at a time. I am already feeling like this is a tough but good choice for me. And I think that's saying something!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

A journey of a thousand miles....

...begins with a single step! Lao Tzu's famous saying is exactly how I'm feeling today. Day 1... and although it's not exactly a journey of a thousand miles, it definitely feels like it's going to be a thousand days!

Today felt like a bit of a battle. I had set myself up for success with a good whole grain breakfast cereal (Engine 2 "Rip's Big Bowl Banana Walnut"), and I was ready with a veggie burger for lunch. And then... well... then the burger bun I was going to put my veggie burger on turned out to have egg yolk in it. Yeah. WTF. I was actually really looking forward to the burger. I truly do like veggie burgers, well,  good veggie burgers. Some of them are a bit like cardboard, but even without this whole vegan-diet thing, I like 'em. With a bit of avocado (or as Australians say "ah-vo") and some tomato ("toe-mah-toe"), those veggies burgers cook up nice and tasty. However, today that stupid bun had egg yolk. So....(ear muffs, people) I ate it anyway. GULP. I know, I know... as OE chastised me "It's not good that you are compromising and it's only day 1," I was struck with the thought "Good Lord. Can't anybody even have a freaking BUN around here without there being some freaking ANIMAL in it?!"  So... I figured that next time I need to read the label before I get all psyched up for the meal.

I guess I should get used to reading labels more closely anyway. I usually read labels like a champ. OE truly doesn't like going grocery shopping with me. He knows that if I send him on an errand to go get the (insert pantry item here), he will come back 5 minutes later and I will still be standing in the yogurt aisle reading the labels. Well... NO MORE! I mean, no more yogurt anyway. I'll still be found reading labels, and probably right where he left me, too. But that's fine, because next time I won't be eating a freaking egg yolk bun.

One good thing that happened today was that my sister and I went for a walk. A good hour-plus walk does you some good, and it hurts your legs if you've been a sedentary wildebeest for the past month like I have. It's ok, though, because it made me feel good to have done something productive. I spent the rest of the day combing through vegan cookbooks and planning meals for the next 3 days. Yeah, that's all a whole day of planning got me... 3 days worth of meals. It takes a while to figure out what you've got in the house and what you're willing to eat. I couldn't find oat flour at the grocery store. And I think I may have the wrong kind of tofu, but I guess it's part of the learning process, right? I know I will learn a lot during the next 3 months and that's really all part of why I'm doing it in the first place. What sort of meals can I transform into vegan ones? What just doesn't work? And do they seriously think I believe them when they say in the vegan cookbooks "your friends will never know it's vegan!" Um.... no, I don't really believe you. They will  know because I'm sure as hell going to tell them.

So... that's today. To be honest, and I'm going to be, I didn't really want to write today. I was ashamed that I'd eaten that bun on "Day 1"and I was also a bit miffed at having to say "no" to loads of tasty looking foods today. I should be fine with it but when you want something, you want it. The grocery store is the devil. Temptations everywhere. Do true vegans just not see that stuff anymore?! I guess we'll see how it goes. Currently I sit here with yet another glass of Asti to toast the new year. And if Asti isn't vegan, well, then don't tell me, it's NEW YEARS! Wow, I nearly forgot! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!