Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 20!

Wow, it has been 20 days since I last ate cheese, milk, yogurt, butter- crazy.  I think this experience has been great so far.  It has caused me to really think about what I am eating.  I will admit that last night I was tempted to quit when my vegan cookies turned out...interesting, but I decided to stick with it.  Even if that meant that I had to be a little creative.  I made black bean burgers for dinner.  They were a little moist, so I added oatmeal to the mixture.  Once again, I just kinda went with what I had instead of a recipe so here it is.

Black Bean and Barley Burgers
1/2 small red onion
2 large cloves of garlic
1 carrot, peeled
1/2 small red pepper
1 1/2 cans black beans, seperated
1 cup cooked barley
1/2 cup salsa
2 pieces of dry bread
1/2 cup dry oatmeal
a few drops of hot sauce

Mince onion, garlic, carrot, and red pepper in food processor.  Add 1 can of black beans, barley, salsa, bread, and hot sauce to mixture.  Transfer to bowl and add remaining black beans and oatmeal.  Add more oatmeal if needed, but mixture will be very wet (putting in the refrigerator or freezer for a short time will make it easier to form patties).  Form into patties and cook in large skillet sprayed with cooking spray for about 8 minutes.  Flip and continue cooking on other side.  [Tip- if the burger is reall difficult to flip, wait.  It will be easier to flip once it is completely cooked on one side.]
Serve with tomato, avocado, red onion, salsa, etc.

Also, an interesting dessert I had last week: coconut milk yogurt.  I wanted to try some yogurt, but wanted something other than soy milk yogurt.  It was actually very good, but expensive.  A special treat, i guess.

More vegan goodness to come!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vegan Wonderland

I apologize for the time since my last post, but I have a lot of good eats to share with you.  Let's start with some tortilla soup.  There was a lot of improvising to make this soup on Saturday, but it turned out pretty good.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons good hot chili powder
1 15oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can condensed tomato soup (I used this because it was all we had- but a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste would work as well)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon oregano
2 15oz cans black beans, rinsed
2 cups roasted corn (or frozen sweet corn)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (more to garnish)
Garnish with tortilla strips (or crushed chips, lime wedges, avocado, cilantro)

1. Saute onion, garlic and jalapeno in canola oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat.
2. Add chili powder, tomatoes, and tomato paste/soup.  Cook for a couple of minutes.
3. Add vegetable broth, water, lime juice and oregano.  Simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Add black beans and corn and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
5.  Stir in cilantro, remove from heat and serve with desired garnishes.

I am lucky to have a boyfriend who is supportive of this adventure, and found a great vegetarian (mostly all vegan) restaurant for our date on Sunday.  It was a very unique, asian style restaurant in NOVA.  Let's start with our appetizer:
                                      Steamed vegetable dumplings

                                       Curry vegetables with soy protein
                                       Pan fried noodles with vegetables
                                       Avocado Lemon Pie

Everything was very good.  The soy protein in the main dishes was pretty good, but I am still adjusting to that idea.  I also don't like eating a ton of soy products, because I think too much of anything can be harmful.  I really liked the vegetables and the sauces though.  The avocado lemon pie was actually pretty good- we were a little worried but it was nice.  Definitely worth checking out Sunflower Vegetarian Restaurant in Falls Church, VA.  


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On Top of Spaghetti....

All covered with cheese (wait no cheese).  There sat my poor meatball (I mean meatless meatballs) 'til somebody sneezed (well, no one actually sneezed).   Dinner tonight: spaghetti with homemade sauce, vegan meatballs, and garlic green beans.  Yum.  I don't think the meatballs would have fooled anyone into thinking they were real meat- but they were actually pretty good. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beans, Rice and Everything Nice

So, what to have for a dinner party with my friends that doesn't make them regret eating dinner with me during this vegan month?  A yummy mostly vegan taco bar (we had some cheese for everyone but me).  Black beans, spanish rice, tortillas, taco seasoned veggie crumbles, salsa, spinach, sauteed onions, roasted corn, and a mango/avocado salad.  I think everyone felt pretty satisfied with their vegan meal.  The key is to not tell them it was vegan until afterward.  I couldn't find a recipe I loved for the mango/ avocado salad, so I just made it up.  Which is normally what I end up doing anyway.  Here it goes (measurements estimated).   Enjoy!

Mango-Avocado Salad
2 ripe mangos, cubed
2 avocados, cubed
1 tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 cup roasted corn
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
juice from a lemon or lime
salt and pepper to taste

                                         My dear friend Kate's tacos- see mango salad

                                                              My taco plate =)

I will have to admit that I did eat a little piece of brownie that was sitting around without thinking before I realized it wasn't vegan.  So- I made a little mistake, but life will go on.  Other than that- this month is going pretty well!  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day Five... and Still Alive

So I have made it 5 days eating a vegan diet, and so far so good. I don't really miss much yet. The only thing that has really changed is my snacks- no more greek yogurt and string cheese. They have been replaced by fruit and nuts. The one thing that I have had trouble with at the grocery is finding bread I like that doesn't have honey. Yes, honey is an animal product. I feel pretty good- actually I feel like my sinus problems that I had been having for the past month or so have gone away. Which makes sense because dairy products thicken up your mucus, etc.

I have made several good dinners. Monday was risotto with roasted butternut squash and brussels sprouts. Tuesday I made spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce with carrots, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and white beans for some protein. And tonight vegan boca burgers with hummus and balsamic onions along with sweet potato fries. For dessert, some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with dried cherries (vegan of course). I am profecting my low-fat oatmeal cookies recipe. I promise to share it when its ready. All in all, a pretty good week so far.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Vegan Month: Days 1 & 2

A few weeks ago I decided that for the month of January I would adopt a vegan diet, and so it begins. That means not eating any animal products. Being vegan can mean different things to different people, and I am not going to go too strict. I will not be throwing out any of my shoes that may have leather on them or anything like that. I will, however, be making a valiant effort to avoid consuming animal products for the month. There are many reasons why I am doing this, but mainly it is an experiment for me to see what it is like to be vegan. As a nutritionist, I feel that I should understand different dietary patterns and what better way than to adopt them for a while. So I start with my vegan month.

Day 1-
I started yesterday with breakfast, which was also my first close call. I went out to a cafe with some friends and ordered oatmeal- almost forgetting to have it made with soymilk. It was delicious though, flavored with maple syrup, nuts, and dried fruit.

After breakfast it was time for groceries. It is a lot easier in a way to go grocery shopping because there are fewer items to choose from, but also more difficult because it requires ingredient labels to be read very carefully. For dinner I made a stir fry of vegetables and tofu with peanut sauce (I had one vegetable from each color group- makes me proud).

Then it was baking time- I found a recipe for vegan pumpkin pie brownies and adjusted it just a little. They turned out pretty good. A good cure for my chocolate craving.

Day 2-
I had oatmeal again this morning after my walk around the Capital and the market, but at home and with pistachios and agave nectar this time. For lunch I had leftover stir fry. Then the dinner dilemma. It can be difficult to find restaurants that are vegan friendly, but luckily DC has a decent number of options. We opted for Mediterranean tonight, which was a great choice. Now I am not 100% sure that everything was vegan, but I decided that I would use my best judgement. I got a falafel sandwich on flatbread with hummus and a spicy vegetable relish. All which are normally vegan. It was very good.

Overall, this has been a good start to my vegan month and 2011. I am excited to share the rest of my experiences this month with you all.