Veggies: Through the weeks & Beyond

Just found an old, unpublished post! It’s now been over 5 months…what a journey!

It has been 21 days since we’ve sworn off four legged friends and it has been quite an adventure. While there have been a few mishaps, for the most part, we have both found our choice to go vegetarian rewarding and delicious! I’ve meant to document the daily meals, thoughts and findings, but guess I’ve dropped the ball. Better late than never though!

So, the past few weeks have been enlightening in several ways. First, we both feel great. Lighter. Clearer. We are not ingesting the antibiotics, steroids or hormones that are pumped into most of the meat we consume. Plus, replacing meat means finding healthy alternatives to fill us. Tofu, seitan, vegetables. Plus, side dishes consist of mostly greens as well. So, we’ve dropped the toxins and doubled up on the dosages of vitamins through veggies.

Another way this experience has opened my eyes is to the plethora of recipes out there that are just waiting to be made! It has been challenging, exciting, delightful. Really, the most fun I’ve had in the kitchen. To make meals that are full of protein, don’t involve too much work, and don’t taste like cardboard so Mike will eat them, well it’s been fun.

Going out has been somewhat of an adventure. Actually, it’s been awesome. Everywhere we have gone has had meatless options that have been super tasty. We’ve not felt like we were settling once. Ok, yes, there has been times when we’ve perused the menu and lingered over a meat dish, pining over the days of carnivore delight…then it fades, and we remember how good we feel, how compassion has outweighed every taste bud hesitation & how happy we are to know we’re doing our part. No matter how small. One meal at a time.

Veggies Out: Day 3 & 4: My accidental Meat Meal!

During the past few months, I’ve really given a lot of thought to the food I’m putting into my mouth and how it’s used. Not in an over complex way, but more obvious – If I eat a sugary snack at 3pm, it will feed my addiction for sugar (and I definitely have one) and I’ll just want more. Simple and obvious, but I still want something sweet. Probably out of boredom the dreaded desk job brings.

I can’t seem to cut out all sugar though, but being aware of its effect helps limit my intake. Plus, do you know how long it takes to burn off 100 calories?!

So, in this challenge, I’m not just focused on omitting meat but really focus on what I am eating and how it makes me feel. Fresh ingredients with little preservatives, fresh herbs to season food, limited salt, oil, sauce. Let the flavor shine through organically, so to speak.

So, ontoDay 3 of our meatless challenge!

I worked from home, so had a bit more time in the morning. I made scrambled eggs (no cheese, yogurt or milk, we eat way too much dairy!), on 1/2 a toasted sundried tomato tortilla, topped with a fresh, hot, salsa. And of course, Tapatilo sauce! And all the pills, daily vitamins we’ve taken for years: B12, C, glucosamine and chondroitin (for my running & Mike’s physical job), a womnen’s daily and a b complex. Kind of ironic that we had just received the TIME magazine with the highly discussed Bitter Pill article. A must read about how medial bills are killing us, although the food to health relationship wasn’t mentioned….makes you scratch your head!

0305130948

Now, the food. The salsa, which I bought at Weis Market for $4, is fresh and super tasty. And wouldn’t you know, I recognized all the ingredients!

0305130956a 0305130956b

 

The remainder of the day consisted of a salad topped with a lentil and rice pilaf mixture I had made over the weekend (it’s good to have easy-to-serve protein around). I topped off the salad with plain balsamic vinegar and paired it with a garlic and onion pop cake. A tangy, crunchy, nutty meal. Mike, who is home making a wood cabinet, ate granola and Greek yogurt. Probiotics!

Later in the evening, I cooked shrimp with garlic and cilantro mixed with spicy Thai rice noodles. Yummmmmm. It was delicious! And remember, Mike and I are not giving up fish or seafood. For those strict vegetarians, I commend you in your journey. I’m taking it one ecosystem at a time.

That being said, day 4 took a surprising turn as I ventured out in the evening to a Vietnamese restaurant with a girlfriend. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The day started on a positive, clean note. Mike and I had discussed if either one of us had been feeling any different. The general consensus: not really. I felt a bit more alert, not sluggish, but I have freakish amounts of energy, so that may have been a normal thing.

I went off to work, eating my pop cake, banana and chunky peanut butter breakfast. I’ve cut down my coffee intake (knowing caffeine is an inflammatory agent) so had my one coffee-to-go cup (as Mike calls it) and washed down my desk breakfast with lemon herbal tea and water.

0306130903

Lunch consisted of a 30 min spin class, followed by a 39 min core max class (kicked my arse!) with the main course consisting of leftover orzo & tofu parm. After that kinda workout, I would eat anything, but damn this was good!

That evening, I was meeting a girlfriend at Pho & Beyond, a little Byob in Willow Grove. My first time here and I could tell by the aroma that hit us in the face it was gonna be good. We walked in, opened our bottle of wine and looked at the huge menu. It was full of meat!!! DAMNIT! The did, however, have quite a bit of tofu options, veggie dishes and meatless appetizers, so all good….or so I thought!

The traditional Vietnamese dish is Pho, so naturally I wanted to try that. Searching the menu, they all contained meat. Except the homemade wonton noodle dish, Súp Hoành Thánh. Perfect! We ordered the vegetarian spring rolls to start, so we were set. They came out and were huge, ridiculously chocked full of fresh ingredients and served with a peanut dipping sauce. Oh, I was happy!

Onto the main dish…

0306131823Served with a side dish of bean sprouts and jalapeño peppers, plus two sauces (one sweet, one a bit spicy) the dish came out pipping hot. Egg noodles, scallions, cilantro, fresh line, homemade wonton. FILLED WITH CHICKEN! I bit into one and immediately realized the meat mistake. DOH! It was delicious though, so as not to be a food-waster, I finished that one, and ate around the rest.

My first slip up in the Veggie challenge and it was only 4 days in!! Mike has let me know that he is winning the 30-day without meat challenge. Touché Mike. Touché.

Veggied Out: Day 2 of Our Month without Meat

Mike and I wanted to see if we could go without meat for a month. To lose some weight, embrace a more peaceful way of eating and in some ways, I think to challenge ourselves. On a regular week, we’re pretty healthy eaters to begin with…salads, lots of water thought the day, and plenty of veggies to accompany the main dish, which three to four times a week was sans meat anyway. So, why not see if we could do it full-time, for a month? Game on!

Thing is, I wanted to be realistic. The feelings and in-humaness of the animal treatment around meat consumption, well, I had never had them before. I love meat, love food and believe that creating food that bursts with flavor is a beautiful thing. Having watched Vegucated and Food Matters, I truly feel I want to adopt a lot of these principles – educating myself on the products I’m ingesting, treating my body as a machine, being conscious of how animals and humans are sharing this planet and asking why we are allowed to treat them in such a way, without much thought. It’s terrifying the way the meat-industry is allowed to operate, truly upsetting. On the flip side, I believe in supporting local farms, farmers who are making their living treating their livestock as humanely as possible, without steroids and the brutality of mass-production methods. It got me wanting to do something about it. The tears cried over these movies is sweet and all, but I told myself, ‘Ok, so take action, because all crying does is mean I feel something. Big deal!’

Admitting to myself that I wanted to change, but being realistic about my ability, I wanted to turn these feelings into viable, proactive actions. I started looking into a food-coop (haven’t settled on one yet, but am considering Weavers Way, as it’s close), I researched skin cream that doesn’t test on animals and found Pangea which uses all organic, sustainable products and has a really cool philosophy. Little steps taken are better than no steps at all I guess. Sometimes I get ahead of myself, so wanted to keep it realistic, but keep it moving.

Day 2 of our challenge:

For breakfast, I had my usual banana, peanut butter and rice cakes, although I did treat myself to these really tasty blueberry rice cakes. At 16 calories per cake, it’s an awesome alternative to bread. They’re a bit more expensive, but I love them, even though Mike thinks I basically am buying air. What does he know!?

Mike went for the homemade quiche we made this Sunday. Diced tomatoes, sautéed shallots & portabello mushroom, with a bit of Greek yogurt mixed in with the egg. Pour it in a pilsbury pie crust and top with some sliced Swiss and it was on!

For lunch, I had 45 minutes of spin class, followed by a bag of raw green beans and a half of a veggie wrap. Portabello mushroom, roasted red pepper, lettuce and mozzarella. I polished that off with a 100 calorie pack of dark chocolate covered blueberries (best find at BJs ever!) Mikes lunch consisted of peanuts. He was busy in the garage making a cabinet, so who has time to eat while woodworking is going on!?

That being said, by the time I got home, he was ravenous and already worried that his hunger was caused by lack of meat. All in his head, I told him. Eat some lunch tomorrow, then tell me how starving you are. Men! Dinner tonight was delicious and super easy, as I had prepared the main dish on Sunday. Feeling pretty good and taking little steps.

Snap peas, goat cheese, dates and mixed green salad

0

Carrot & Ginger soup

0-2

Garlic & pea purée toast topped with some cheddar cheese

0-1