Monthly Archives: May 2012
So the question I get asked the most as a Vegan is “what do you eat?” I get asked this question in varying forms: what do you eat for breakfast, what do you eat as snacks, what do you eat at a BBQ, what do you eat on Easter? So I thought I would answer the question that seems to bother people the most: What do you eat with your family (as in extended family). Right now, my extended family in the area is just my mom and dad. They are super supportive of our food choices, so they are pretty much willing to go along with whatever I choose to cook for us.
I anticipate having a little bit more of a problem with other extended family members, and I am sure you will see a post after Memorial Day weekend about eating in mixed company. But since I haven’t really had to cross that bridge with my family, I guess I don’t have an answer. I can tell you that in preparation for Memorial Day weekend, I am doing things I normally wouldn’t do like buying fake meat hot dogs and vegan marshmallows so that my kids don’t feel left out. They said they don’t care and don’t want those things, but I want to have them on stand by just in case in the moment they change their minds.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Over the weekend we hung out at my parents’ house. Robert changed the oil on the cars, the kids swam. I decided to have a BBQ with the family. Crazy vegan says what? How do you have a barbecue in Texas without meat?
Here is our menu:
Potatoes and onions
Mixed squash (yellow squash, pattipan squash, zucchini)
Fruit Salad (pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cantaloupe)
Mashing avocados is her very favorite thing! So I guess the answer to the question is that we sure don’t go hungry!
Finally, the time for talking about my personal feelings is over. Even though I feel like I could fill up seven blogs with what I am feeling, I am going to quit boring you. Today, you get a recipe. Here is how it came into being.
My mom told me she saw a recipe for taco filling made from mushrooms. I thought it sounded pretty good, and my husband loves mushrooms. So, when we went to the store, my mom and I decided to split a package of baby portabello mushrooms. Then my 13-year-old daughter and I had a real heart to heart conversation.
She keeps saying she wants to go vegan, but she is worried she will loose weight, and she says that since she is 13 already there are certain things she just isn’t prepared to give up. She told me that she understands why we don’t eat “Fake” meat, but she thinks if the little girls and I can have oreos every once in a while, she should be able to have some fake sausage. Makes sense to me. I love it when they make well reasoned arguments! One of the things she said she missed was taco meat. So I told her about this mushroom recipe and she said she would try it.
She has never eaten a mushroom in her life, and she would never have eaten it before now, but I convinced her, and we had success! We made the tacos and she ate hers on a flour tortilla (whole wheat) with avocado, lettuce, tomato, and onion plus the mushroom mix. She said it is her new favorite meal next to Swiss Chard. So, I call that a pretty successful meal. I told her if her two favorite meals are Swiss Chard and Mushroom Meat, she is ready to be a vegan.
Here is the recipe (and photos):
1/2 pint of baby portabello mushrooms, finely chopped
1 medium onion or 2 small onions, finely chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
The key is to finely chop the ingredients. Here is a photo of the mushrooms chopped before I cooked them.
>The strangest thing has been happening to me. I haven’t really been sure about what exactly it is. Then it just kinda dawned on me yesterday. I think it is really important that I share it with you all. I think part of sharing this journey with all of you is being honest even when that honesty makes me a little vulnerable.
I have been telling all of you about how I have lost weight and blah blah. But I am by no means thin. I mean I still need to loose about 15 pounds before I’m not overweight. For my entire life since about puberty I have struggled with body issues. At some points in my life it has been down right self loathing.
I hate to look at pictures of myself. I hate for people to touch me especially my stomach. I don’t wear swim suits; and when I do, I spend the whole time in some place of dark, dark sadness. Almost two years ago I was an event with all my friends. I don’t get to see them very often because we live all over the country. We love each other so much and wanted to take photos. There is a photo of us (with me in it) that made me just want to cry. (see below, I’m on the right in the green undershirt and black top shirt).
>I’m getting my PhD in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Sometimes I feel like that means I can’t be angry or have conflict. But someone said something to me a few days ago that got me rip roaring mad. So mad that I barely could respond. So mad that I carried it around with me for days.
I know. . . you are thinking, “for the love of gosh woman, tell us what happened.” The same thing that happens to Vegan moms everyday. Someone asked me about what my kids are eating. But without telling you who it was because that would be rude. This person does not eat healthy and is very close to my family. This person never questioned me when I fed the kids a SAD (Standard American Diet).
Here is the conversation:
Person: “Are you making sure you monitor what the kids eat to make sure they are getting adequate nutrition?”
Person: “I’m serious. It is really important. I mean. Really. I mean. IMPORTANT, Heather.”
Me: “I am.”
Person: “Quit just saying that. You know are you making sure the food they eat is healthy?”
Me: “As opposed to what? Tater tot casserole?” (Tater tot casserole is something this person would feed the children)
Then with a straight face, the person said, “Yes.”
I was so mad, I actually considered taking my kids to have a blood test. Not a part of their annual physical blood test, but just a, “I’ll show you blood test.” Then I realized that was crazy. I also realized that the anger was unhealthy. But I also realized, that I needed someway to say, “look, this is what it was before, and this is what it is now.”
While all this was going on, I was just going on with my life. Two funny things happened. My daughter was required for school last year to keep a food journal for one day. Over the weekend I was frantically searching for something in the office, and I stumbled on this journal. It gave me a laugh. Then I switched from tracking my food in Livestrong to tracking it in Cron-O-meter because Cron-O-meter shows you all the vitamins.
Then it hit me. I tracked my food for years, and I have a one day food entry from a typical day from my kids. So this is what I did. I picked a day, at random from one of my “healthy” times when I was working out and eating what I considered super healthy. I am going to compare that day (April 10, 2011) with what I ate today, a normal, not trying to be healthy just eating the usual day, (May 14, 2012).
And I am going to compare what my kid wrote in her food journal which I think is from February of 2011 to what she ate today (May 14, 2012). I am going to give you the exact numbers and screen shots so you can see how we measure up. And if we fall short.
Let me add one other caveat. I add one tablespoon of nutritional yeast to their rice every night. I don’t eat the rice. That is why some of their numbers are so high and mine aren’t.
Here is a screenshot of the read outs for the kids’ day on their SAD diet (it cut off the bottom but you can see all the important stuff):
Here it is for the Vegan Day:
Side By Side:
You will notice on my side by side there is a column labeled, the bad. this is a column of what I ate on a normal day when I was just eating. Like travel days. Or days when I didn’t feel like cooking. It is a breakfast burrito, Cesar salad, burrito, crunch wrap, soda, and a candy bar. Yep, I ate like that.
Things of note:
So, I am not going to detail everything we eat everyday. This isn’t a food journal. But I did detail it in my food journal; and if people doubt me, I guess I will post my food journal. I would like to note a few things, First off, on the good things, when the SAD diet wins, it barely wins. Second, on many things, I couldn’t mark them 100%, but they were really close!
Note: Please note that on the SAD diet there is a cholesterol intake. On my Vegan diet, there is not. Also, check out that fat. Not only that, but on my vegan diet, that fat is coming from things like avocado. Yummy.
I also already noted about the nutritional yeast. I love it. It is really easy to throw in rice or beans or anything really. It has a nutty flavor. Some people say it tastes like cheese, but I don’t think so. I think it tastes like salty bread crumbs a little bit, but they dissolve. It is a good flavoring. Not only that but it is packed full of B vitamins and protein.
One thing I found surprising is how yucky my kids’ breakfast is! I don’t know why, but I guess I just wasn’t paying that much attention to it even though I thought I was. We wake up super early, and I suppose it just didn’t get the attention it deserved. Now it is. We have already talked about it (on the way to hockey). We came up with an action plan, and we have solutions. Breakfast tomorrow will be jam packed with calories, protein, vitamins, and yummy stuff to help their little brains work!
I was also surprised to see that we now get MORE, yep, MORE iron, calcium, and vitamin D than they got on their SAD diet. I guess I was programmed not to think that. They did fall below the recommended value for calcium, but I am working to address that (hello breakfast).
I was a little sad to see they didn’t get 100% of the recommended value of protein. But 98% is pretty darn close! Not only that, but I am working on solutions to address it. After all, their eating habits can’t go from cookies and string cheese to fruit and nut butter overnight. It is something they are getting used to (especially that little one).
Things of note about me:
I didn’t really exercise today (10 minutes of yoga doesn’t count), so 1100 calories is probably enough. But I honestly feel like I would pop if I ate one more thing! I just can’t eat this much freaking food. I got a lot of protein, so I need to get my kids up to that level, but they won’t eat the dang beans and rice mix that I like. Ahhh… look at that sodium level (34%), that is pretty cool! I mean, I can’t believe it isn’t through the roof. It actually is probably higher because I think I sprinkled a little on my beans, but it isn’t what it used to be.
Anyway, I know that a lot of Vegans say you don’t have to supplement. I agree. But, I feel that we are still transitioning for the most part. I’m still trying to figure it all out some days. Especially with the kids. I am not willing to risk it. So, the girls do take a multi vitamin. It is a high quality multi vitamin. It is NOT, however, included in this chart. These charts are only our food. I am sure even if it isn’t being 100% absorbed that it is filling in the gaps. I may not have them take it forever, but I will continue having them take it for now.
When we lived in Georgia, every year at their physical, the doctor checked them for anemia and a few other things. This year, I am going to ask him to throw in B12 and a few other things. But I am going to wait to their regularly scheduled check-up.
They play hockey, they swim, the run, the laugh, they play. They are happy, they are smart, they are healthy. They are beautiful with lovely hair and skin and smiles. I think we are doing just fine, and I think this is the proof in the pudding that we are doing better than when we were SAD.
>I don’t have a photo, but I promise this recipe is amazing! I am going to steal a photo of something similar to give you an idea, but Cashew Cheese Queso Dip makes the world go round!
A few weeks ago (on Earth Day) we went to the Spiral Diner in Dallas, Texas. It is a Vegan restaurant. It is so yummy and wonderful. We had this dip platter that had a cashew based queso dip. My husband freaked out over it and wanted it. For weeks he talked about. So, I decided to take the plunge and try and try to recreate it at home.
I did some research online, and I couldn’t find a recipe that I thought would not be too spicy. Plus all the recipes I found were WAY too complicated. I hate complicated recipes when they don’t have to be. So, I went out on a limb and made my own. Oh my gosh, I was so nervous. But it turned out really well.
It should look something like this:
- 2 c. Cashews (you should soak these, because you should soak nuts when using them for nut cheese, but I didn’t have time the other day, and my queso turned out fine).
- 2 c. vegetable broth
- 2 TBSP. white miso (white miso is mild and yummy plus it is the right color)
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 diced onion
- 1 diced red bell pepper
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 TBSP chili powder
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 TBSP nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
>I might get a little flack from some of my friends for this. I’m not saying that you have to be thin to be a Vegan or that you should become a Vegan with the expressed purpose of becoming thin, but wow is losing weight a side effect.
Growing up I was very thin. Extremely thin. Then I had three kids, and then I got very sick. I gained weight. Lost weight. Gained weight. Went on every diet. Counted calories. Exercised obsessively. There is this weird thing you do when you are on a diet, you justify. I could have Whataburger Patty Melts on Saturday because Saturday was “Cheat day.” I factored in a Pepsi for Breakfast into my calories. No wonder I eventually fell off the wagon.
Then I found Vegan. I have lost 31 pounds. I eat what I want, when I want. I have yet to count a calorie. I haven’t changed my routine (which means I haven’t added in any exercise; although I want to). And I don’t want to have a “Cheat Day” or make sure I can fit in a soda for breakfast. Notwithstanding crying in a Walmart candy bar aisle, I haven’t wanted to eat anything that isn’t vegan. And even when that happened, it was a momentary glitch.
A few days ago I was at my mom’s house, and she made cherry cheescake. I love cherry cheescake. I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to seeing everyone eating it. I thought I might tear up. I thought I might break down and lick the plate. But as soon as I saw it, I didn’t even want to try it. I realized that my whole way of thinking and eating had changed.
And the side effect is that I have lost weight. Something that I have wanted for a long time, and it just naturally happened. Of course, I keep saying that veganism is a triad: health, environment, and animals. The meeting of all three makes this the easiest diet to stick to and it makes your morals feel so good.
But the best news about this diet I never meant to have is that my husband decided it just may be the best diet he never meant to have too. (And since he committed to veganism just two weeks ago, he is down 12 pounds).
I guess the lesson is by setting a good vegan example, we can rub off on those we love. And sometimes when you do the right thing, the unintended side effects are really awesome!
>If you are a parent, then you know that one of the first things we teach our children to do is self soothe. You hear these lovely words almost from the moment a child is born. Every time a baby cries, some grandma somewhere says, “let the baby learn to soothe herself.” And thus begins our lifelong quest to develop coping mechanisms. Methods of self soothing. I am going to be painfully honest in this post in the hopes that it might help someone else who is grappling with this same thing.
I have been going through a bit of a rough patch, and there is no self soothing. There is no alcohol (I’m not a drinker), there is no cigarettes (I’m not a smoker), there is no drugs (I’m not a drug user), but there was always food. I used to take a thin layer of cupcakes to cover up the hurt feelings. I mean you can fix anything with a chocolate milk shake. You can just eat it away.
And then this week happened . . . I suddenly found myself driving to the post office having a panic attack. I had to pull my car over to the side of the road. I got home and had to just lay on my couch. There I was with no self soothing mechanism. My brain was screaming out to just go get something to eat. Since I first transitioned to veganism, I haven’t had cravings. I haven’t really missed anything. All of a sudden I wanted the strangest things. Ranch Dressing. A hamburger. Cupcakes. Candy Bars. Cheese Puffs. Just anything to put the thin layer of food over the top.
Then my husband said, “just EAT something.” So, I don’t live next to a whole foods. Everything closes at 9 pm in my town, so going to the health food store was not an option. So I found myself at Walmart (yes, the dreaded Walmart) at 11 pm. I was standing on the candy aisle. Every single candy bar had something in it. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I was so upset. In that moment, for the first time in this journey, I almost broke down. I thought to myself, “I mean c’mon, what is a little milk fat compared to my mental health?” I could not eat pineapple or corn chips or an orange. I just needed something.
But then I remember reading on Choosing Raw’s blog (www.choosingraw.com) that the one thing she never compromises is being vegan because it isn’t just about health and it isn’t just about the environment but it is about ethics. We literally are who we eat. So, I decided that I would find the most unhealthy vegan thing that is not an oreo in Walmart, and I would eat that. That would be my self soothing. I found two really awesome things.
First, again, I am not advocating shopping in Walmart. But the point is, if you need to put a thin layer of food over a panic attack, you can do it even if you have to shop at Walmart.