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Days 7-11: A Summary

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2010 by smalltownhealth

I’ve kept very busy this week and completely neglected my blog; my apologies. Along with a few standard meals (oatmeal, veggie sammiches, soup, etc), I ventured out into unknown vegan territorycheese. Keep reading to find out if it was a delicious vegan win, or a disastrous fail.

Random meal pictures of the week:

Grilled Portobello Burger

I need a bigger mouth–this was heaven in a bun.

Ate the Whole Bowl 5 Bean Salad

Raspberry Sorbet–a little treat.

Tempeh/Broccoli Stir-Fry

Mac-n-Cheese FAIL:

Yes, you read that right; it was a major FAIL. It was creamy, and it looked like it would be delicious. It was not. Perhaps it is because I LOVE macaroni & cheese, and I know what the real thing is supposed to taste like. Perhaps it is because I had high expectations. Perhaps vegans just don’t know mac-n-cheese. I blame it on all three. I tried to flavor-it-up a bit with some red onions and black beans…not happening. I ate it anyways, but I’ll never make it again.

Last night, I redeemed myself with Sweet Potato, Black Bean Enchiladas. Sounds crazy, but it was the best meal I’d had all week! Definitely a recipe to keep in rotation:

Sweet Potato Goodness

Plus Beans

Plus Cheese (Veggie, of course) = Vegan FTW!!!

Trust me, you want to copy this down:

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas
1 can green enchilada sauce
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
3-4 cloves garlic; minced
juice of 1 big lime
2 heaping cups cooked sweet potatoes, smashed a bit
1/2 cup chipped roasted green chiles
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder or curry powder (I used Mexi-style hot chili powder)
sea salt & black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp (or more) fresh cilantro; chopped
shredded cheese to top
8 white corn tortillas (or Ezekiel tortillas–YUM!)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour 1/4 can of chile sauce in bottom of casserole dish.
Beans: in a small bowl, combine black beans, garlic, and lime juice. Toss to coat, and set aside.
Sweet Potato Mixture: Combine sweet potatoes, green chiles, spices, salt & pepper, and cilantro.
To assemble: Place a warmed tortilla in dish w/ sauce. Top tortilla with 1/8 of bean mixture and 1/8 of sweet potato mixture. Roll it up. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Top with the remaining chile sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Devour.

While this whole vegan kickstart started off a breeze, I’m beginning to regret it. However, I’m on day 12–9 more days to go. To put it bluntly, there no way I could be a vegan for life. No way. I miss seafood the most. Cheese. Yogurt. Eggs. I will not miss making 6 meals a day–my kids and husband are not following along on this vegan adventure. Do I think that a vegan diet is the healthiest diet? Short answer: no. How can a diet lacking an essential vitamin (B12) be a healthy one? Of course there are B12 fortified foods available to vegans–all are processed–not my cuppa tea. For more info on B12, CLICK HERE.

So, I’m counting down. Nine more days. There’s a nip in the air lately, and I’m in the mood for some beef stew. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the pumpkin pie!

🙂

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Day 5: Still Alive

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2010 by smalltownhealth

I have not wasted away into nothing. I am not showing any signs of meat/dairy withdraw. I have made it to day 5 of my vegan adventure. I rule.

Part 1 of today’s breakfast of champions: Aunt Kathi’s Peach Ginger Jam.

Peach Preserves w/ Candied Ginger…UH-MAZING! Thanks, Kathi!

Part 2…Add the Oatmeal:

Nom Nom Nom

Sprinkle it with some toasty walnuts, and I’m satisfied until…

LUNCH: leftover Chickpea Cutlet

warmed up and slapped on a bun w/ lettuce and tomato and a little veganaise = YUM.

I also munched on some Michigan-grown Marquis grapes–neon green and fabulous 🙂

I ended up having kind of a weird dinner. One one hand, I was hungry for something fresh. Enter Black-eyed Pea salad.

Screams summer!

On the other hand, I wanted something warm and fall-ish. Enter Apple-Spice Acorn Squash.

My Fall Favorite!

What’s that you’re thinking? You wish you had the recipe? Just call me Zoltar: You’re wish is granted.

Apple-Spice Stuffed Squash
2 acorn squash
2 small apples; chopped
1/2 cup walnuts; chopped
1 Tbsp orange zest; freshly grated (Don’t make it if you don’t have this!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp Earth Balance “butter”; melted
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
sprinkle of ground cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. (Save the seeds for roasting!)
  3. Place cut-side down in a baking dish, and bake for 25 minutes.
  4. While squash is cooking, combine all other ingredients.
  5. Turn squash cut-side up, fill with apple mixture, and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until squash is tender.

While I usually consider this squash my dessert, my awesome husband brought home some yummy, vegan raspberry sorbet for me. How could I resist? Unfortunately, dessert never lasts long enough for a picture.

Tomorrow I’ll be up and running (literally) bright and early. It will be the first day since I’ve started this whole vegan thing that I go for a run. My 5k is coming up in 3 weeks, and it’s time to hit the trails. It should be interesting to see if I notice any difference in my training. Hopefully, if there is a difference, it will be for the better 🙂 I need some kind of excuse to keep eating peanut butter cups and sorbet, right?

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’m looking forward to cheering on the athletes at the Tri on Sunday! Those people are animals!


Day 2: Dinnertime, and the Vegan is Easy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Day 2 of the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart: Almost out of fruit, wanting some Ezekiel 4:9 tortillas, and a mad craving for chocolate–time to shop. First stop, Kroger. Managed to pick up some cheap organic/gluten-free cereal for the kiddos, some wasabi powder, a couple loaves of Ezekiel 4:9 bread (on sale, plus coupons!), and some vegan soups (on sale, too, of course). I had planned on picking up some veggie burgers, but a quick glance at the ingredients (MSG!) changed my mind pretty quickly. I’ll make my own. This decision led me to my friendly neighborhood health food store.

There, I grabbed some TVP (texturized vegetable protein) for my veg burgers, some nutritional yeast, and the bargain of the day–Ezekiel 4:9 tortillas ($3 less than at Kroger!). That store has so many goodies, I could stay there all day. Alas, one more stop.

Meijer! This is where I stocked up on everything else for the week. Tons of fruits/veggies, some quinoa hiding way on the back of the shelf, navy beans, pinto beans, refried beans (vegetarian), black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (that’s a lot of beans!), plus a few other necessities.

Three stores, one shopping cart, and two baskets later I was finally ready to go home. I hadn’t even had lunch yet (thanks, in part, to my filling breakfast of leftover oatmeal. It was 3:30–might as well make an early dinner. Grocery shopping night is always taco night in our house. They’re fast and easy, and most importantly delicious. The husband and kids had grass-fed beef tacos. I, being the good 21-Day vegan that I am, had portobello soft tacos w/ all the fixin’s.

Oh, avocado, how I love thee. ❤

I suppose I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m not a fan of MSG, and you shouldn’t be, either. Those little taco seasoning packets at the store are LOADED with it! After many failed attempts at making my own seasoning that actually tasted yummy, I finally found one. Trust me, this is the last taco seasoning recipe you’ll ever need. You’re welcome, in advance.

Nacho Mama’s Taco Seasoning
1 Tbsp chili powder (I use Hot Mexican-Style Chili Powder)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cornstarch or flour (to thicken and keep from clumping)
Adjust the red pepper flakes to your heat preference. Add 2-3 Tbsp of seasoning per lb of meat. To make it thick and saucy, after seasoning has been added to meat, stir in 1/3 cup water.

There you have it! Also, for all you cheese lovers (myself included!), I added a few slices of avocado to my tacos tonight and never even missed the cheese. Their creamy texture makes for an excellent mayonnaise substitute as well.

Green Goodness

Final thoughts for the day?

  1. Read your labels. MSG is hiding everywhere–be sure to know its aliases, too!
  2. Eat beans and oatmeal (not together, ew)–cheap and filling.
  3. Avocados are your friend.

Eat on, foodies.

Day 1: The Veginning

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by smalltownhealth

The day has finally arrived: Day 1 of the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. After a weekend full of roasted meatiness (read: Annual Family Pig Roast), I am beyond ready to go vegan. Looking back, four chickens and sausage stuffing all sewn up into a pig on a spit DOES seem a little over-the-top.

And how could someone eat something with a face as cute as this?

Poor piggy. Let the conscious, cruelty-free eating begin.

For breakfast: a bowl of ooey gooey apple-cinnamon oatmeal with raisins, walnuts, and a wee-tad bit of maple syrup.

So filling, I couldn’t finish the entire bowl.

For lunch: a portabella, onion, pepper, and spinach wrap w/ spicy homemade salsa. Simply scrumptious.

Portabella fajita? Yes, please!

And finally, for dinner: Tofu/Veggie Stir-Fry

With homemade tofu, no less! 🙂

Today was a breeze. I did catch myself one time reaching for the carton of cottage cheese to snack on–oops. No worries. I grabbed some nuts and raisins instead–satisfied. Twenty more days and tons of recipes to look forward to! This is gonna be a piece of (vegan) cake.

Oh, and if you see anything you like, drop me a comment and I’ll post the recipe!

Until tomorrow, food lovers.

Eat Me!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Tonight I’m posting one of my all-time FAVORITE recipes. It’s super-versatile, healthy, and oh-so-delicious…even cold.

Who You Callin’ Shrimp, Quinoa Tabbouleh
1 lb raw shrimp (pre-cooked are yucky…trust me); cleaned and deveined
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 lemon; juiced (c’mon, use a real lemon!)
2 cloves of garlic; crushed
1/2 tsp each salt ‘n peppa (whatta man, whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty good man…sorry, sidetracked)
1/2 pint (or more, if you like…I like) cherry tomatoes; halved
3/4-1 cup Kalamata olives; halved (splurge on these–it’s not the same w/o them)
1 green bell pepper; chopped (I’ve experimented w/ the other colors–green’s the best!)
1 cup flat-leaf parsley; chopped
3 oz (approx) crumbled feta cheese
1 box quinoa, cooked in broth–not beef broth, not water
  • Place shrimp, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove, 1/4 tsp EACH salt n’ peppa in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Grab a big serving bowl–combine tomatoes, olives, bell pepper, parsley, feta, and remaining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt ‘n peppa.

Before the quinoa was added

  • Add cooked quinoa, and mix well.
  • Heat a pan over med-high heat. Place the shrimp in a SINGLE LAYER!!! and cook 2 minutes/side–enough to get a nice crust.
  • Mix shrimp into quinoa mixture.Eat your heart out!

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Seriously, this stuff is amazing. It’s gluten-free and can also be adapted to fit any vegetarian or vegan lifestyle–obviously just by omitting the shrimp and feta. Hope you try it and love it as much as I do!

Cheers!

Vegin’ Out, Watchin’ a Movie

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Saturday night I was fortunate enough to see an advance screening of Forks Over Knives. It is a film about how nutrition affects our health. More specifically, it is a film about how consuming animal protein affects our health. Here is the trailer:

I have flirted with a vegan lifestyle in the past, but I’ve never truly made the commitment. It’s time to take the plunge. As of September 6th, 2010, I will be a 21-day vegan with the help of my friends at 21-Day Vegan Kickstart

I’m really excited to see what changes, if any, I will notice in my health, body, and mind. Twenty-one days is no big deal, right? Did I mention my husband and I just bought a side of grass-fed beef? I’m partial to eggs for breakfast? Am I crazy? Witness the insanity right here, as I’ll be documenting my every meal. And please mark your calendars for March 11, 2011–the official release date of Forks Over Knives.

Save Money; Eat Well

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by smalltownhealth

Eating well on a budget isn’t always easy. More often than not, those 10 for $10 deals at the grocery stores are only advertising processed junk, and the coupons in the Sunday circulars are just as bad. What is the health-conscious, on-a-budget shopper to do? Here are some tips to help you save some money on your favorite eats:

  • Write (or email) the company. Do you have a favorite brand of organics? Is there something you’ve always wanted to buy, but feel guilty spending the money? Go to the company’s website, and click on “Contact Us.” Fill out the form, or mail a hand-written letter, telling them how much you love their products and would greatly appreciate some coupons! You will be amazed at the generosity of most companies. I’ve receive whole BOOKS with dollar off coupons inside.  Earthbound Farms and Amy’s Kitchen both send a bunch–and fast!
  • Trade in a bad habit. Do you smoke too much? Drink too much? Buy sugary cereals, candy, soda, or chips? Try swapping a weekly purchase of one of those for something healthy instead. Add up how much these vices cost per week–this number is usually surprising!
  • Shop seasonally. In case you missed my last post, you can save a great deal of money just by buying items that are in season. There is a reason strawberries and tomatoes are always on sale in the summer, squash and apples are always on sale in the fall, oranges in the winter, etc. Out-of-season foods cost more because of the cost of transportation to bring them in from other states, countries, and continents!
  • Shop locally. Not only does this give your local economy a boost (which is reason enough in itself to support a local farmer), but the prices of local produce are usually lower than the prices at the store–and for higher quality goods! Next time you see a little stand on the side of the road stop in, and see what kind of deals you can find!
  • Buy in bulk. When something is on sale, buy a bunch! Many farm stands will be happy to sell you a big box of “seconds” at a discounted price. I especially love doing this with apples and peaches. They may have a few bruises, but I just cut them out and they’re perfect for freezing or turning into sauce and preserving.

  • Grow your own! One of the best, and most satisfying, ways to save money on healthy foods is to plant a garden. Seeds cost next to nothing, and whether you have a patio or an average lot, there’s always room to grow! Even in the winter months I have had success growing herbs in a sunny window. If you’re planting a large garden, be sure that you know how to preserve your harvest; there’s nothing better than home-grown goodies available year round.

  • Make friends with a farmer. If you can’t grow your own food, buddy up to someone who can. Maybe you could volunteer at the farm for a weekly box of goodies. Bartering benefits both parties, and it’s an excellent way to form lasting relationships.

I hope you find a few of these ideas helpful. Just because the economy is suffering, doesn’t mean your health has to. There’s room to eat consciously in EVERY budget–find something that works for you!