Wordless Wednesday – Yummy Vegan Food!

Little man enjoying a vegan meal: Pineapple Teriyaki Chickpeas {and veggies} from Happy Herbivore!

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I omitted the szechuan and sugar to tone it down a bit, and make it a little more kid-friendly. The original recipe is pinned here:

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Week Four / Wrap-up

It’s July 1st, and the end of my 30 Day Vegan Challenge!

I didn’t do as well as I hoped. There were a few hiccups along the way, but I tried some new foods and recipes, and learned a lot about my eating habits. (And I lost 6 pounds!)

I think with my current lifestyle (working full-time, chasing around a soon-to-be toddler), being 100% vegan is unrealistic. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to cook all of my meals at home, and eating vegan at restaurants is challenging.

So, for the time being, I’ve decided to go back to eating mostly vegetarian, with a lot of vegan inspiration. 🙂 I plan to stick with using almond milk in my cereal, coconut milk coffee creamer, etc. I’ll still be on the hunt for great vegan recipes to make as I have time.

Baby steps…

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Week Three

Lately, I’ve been losing my motivation in this challenge. Maybe it’s because I’ve already “fallen off the wagon”, and it’s easy to just go back to old habits. I’m still doing my best to eat Vegan as much as possible, though.

I actually had a chance to try a new recipe this week, and in turn, use a product that I had been meaning to try for a while that a lot of Vegan recipes call for.

(Disclaimer: I was not compensated for my review on this product. These are my honest opinions.)

Red Star Nutritional Yeast – Nutritional yeast is great source of B vitamins. It also gives a “cheesy” flavor to foods. I was skeptical about the claims of cheesy flavor, but I was pleasantly surprised by the taste! It’s not meant to be a substitute for cheese in a dish like lasagna, but it gives a little flavor to dishes like the Chili Mac I made earlier this week.

I also went to the new Trader Joe’s that opened here last week. I was surprised at how small the store was! Unfortunately, it was our last errand of the day, and the baby was headed for a meltdown. It was very crowded, and I didn’t get a chance to do a lot of browsing.

I’m hoping to try at least one new recipe again this coming week. I can’t believe how fast this 30 days has gone! Look for my vegan challenge week 4/wrap up next Sunday!

Recipe – Chili Mac

Today has been a rainy, gloomy day. The kind of day that makes me crave some warm comfort food (though it’s obviously not cold out, since it’s the middle of June…)

I had been wanting to try this Chili Mac recipe from Fat Free Vegan for a while now, so I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t have everything the recipe called for, though, so I had to improvise somewhat. I’ve noted my substitutions below.

 

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Ingredients

2 cups elbow macaroni
1 onion, chopped – no onion, so I used onion powder
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce – I only had tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
4 teaspoons mild chili powder*
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
10 ounces frozen corn kernels – I used canned corn
1 16-ounce can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
5 cups thinly-sliced kale (thick stems removed before slicing) or other greens** – I used frozen spinach
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water until tender. Drain. Sauté onion in a large non-stick pot until translucent. Add remaining ingredients, as well as cooked pasta. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.

Notes

*This is chili powder, not pepper, a mixture of mild chili peppers and cumin that adds no heat to the dish. If you want it spicy, add cayenne or additional chipotle chili powder.

**If you use a faster-cooking green such as spinach, add it during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 259 Calories (kcal); 2g Total Fat; (6% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 854mg Sodium; 9g Fiber. 139mg Calcium; 2mcg B-12. Weight Watchers 5 Flex Points.

I cooked the pasta according to the package directions, and added the frozen spinach during the last 2-3 minutes. After I drained the pasta and spinach, I mixed in all the canned ingredients and spices.

A few notes –

1. Tomato paste is way too thick and concentrated. I had to add a lot of water to thin it out, and even after adding all of the spices, it had a very tomatoey flavor.

2. *Scott* thought it was definitely missing something (probably cheese…lol). We both agreed that this would be a great dish to make using leftover chili from our usual preferred chili recipe.

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Week Two

End of week two, and I have confession to make. I’m not going to lie to myself or my readers…

I ate something that was not vegan.

I have learned that traveling and going out to eat are incredibly challenging. Plenty of places offer vegetarian options, but vegan meals are difficult to come by. And sometimes you get into a situation where you are stuck. Rather than eating a plate of lettuce, I made a judgement call, and chose vegetarian items instead.

I guess if you want to get technical, I failed the challenge. But I still have every intention of completing the whole 30 days to the best of my ability.

Baby steps… 🙂

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Week One

I’ve completed my first week of the vegan challenge! Yay!

Week one mostly consisted of upping my veggie intake, and drinking more water. I didn’t try any new recipes this week, just adapted some vegetarian recipes that I already use to make them vegan, as needed.

I did try some new products, though…

(Disclaimer: I was not compensated by any of the following companies for reviews on their products. These are my honest opinions.)

– Whole Soy & Co. Soy Yogurt- For the most part: Amazing! Blueberry is my favorite. Not crazy about the Strawberry, though. It had a distinct soy milk taste to it. When I mentioned it on Twitter (follow them @WholeSoy!), they responded immediately. Wonderful customer service!

– So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut Milk Coffee Creamer – Are we sure this isn’t dairy?! It tastes exactly the same in my coffee as the non-vegan creamer I used before! And y’all know how much coffee I drink!

Overall, I feel great! Husband says I look like I’ve lost a few in the waistline, and the scale agrees (down 2.5 lbs!)

I have some new recipes from Fat Free Vegan to try for Week 2. I’ll keep you posted! 🙂

Five foods that are surprisingly Vegan…and five that are not

Eating vegan can be a challenge. A lot of foods have hidden ingredients that are not exactly vegan-friendly. If you completely avoid processed foods, this won’t be an issue for you, but sometimes I do buy things from those center aisles at the grocery store…

Just a few of the foods that are surprisingly VEGAN!  (from Accidentally Vegan)

  • Thomas New York Style Bagels (some varieties) – I assumed that most baked goods would be off limits (made with egg & milk products), but I guess not!  Now to find a substitute for cream cheese…
  • Mission Foods Flour Tortillas – Same as the bagels.  (Homemade tortillas are obviously better, but these will work in a pinch.)
  • Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate (some varieties) – Be sure to check the label on these, but it’s nice to have the option for some yummy hot cocoa in the winter!
  • Oreos – I personally have not eaten Oreos in a very long time, but I would have thought that cream-filling had some sort of milk product in it.  (So, what IS it made of then?!)
  • Jello-O Instant Pudding (Vanilla and possibly other flavors) – This only applies to the boxed powdered “pudding desserts”, not the “pudding snacks” in the refrigerated section (they are made with skim milk).  Keep in mind that regular Jell-O is not vegan (made with gelatin).

And five foods that are NOT necessarily vegan! (from 12 Seemingly Vegan & Vegetarian Foods That Really Aren’t)

  • Beer and Wine – Some brands (many made in Britain) include an ingredient called Isinglass, which is a membrane from the bladders of tropical fish that is used to filter cloudy yeast extracts out of the brew.  Something to be aware of before your next game of beer pong!  (Luckily, the folks at Barnivore have done all the label checking for you!)
  • Sugar – Look at that bag of sugar in your pantry.  “Sugar” is all the ingredients list says.  Well, that’s good.  One ingredient, no preservatives, just sugar!  But sugar isn’t naturally white, so how does it get that way?  By being processed with bone char (made from the bones of cattle).  This includes brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar, as well.  Look for unrefined sugar (such as Sucanat and turbinado sugar) as an alternative.
  • Soy Cheese – This one really surprised me!  Many brands of soy cheese contain the milk protein, casein, which gives it a similar taste and texture as dairy cheese.  Be sure to check the label!
  • Packaged Peanuts – Peanuts are a great source of protein, but beware. Some brands of packaged peanuts (such as Planter’s Dry Roasted Peanuts) contain Gelatin.
  • Orange juice – Some brands enhance their products with Omega-3’s and Vitamin D, which sounds great, right?  Unfortunately, those vitamins and amino acids could come from fish oil, gelatin, or lanolin.  I think you should be able to tell from the label what the source of the Omega-3’s, etc. are.  (At least when I checked the Tropicana website, the ingredient list for their Pure Premium Healthy Heart OJ does say “Contains tilapia, sardine, and anchovy”.  Mmm…tilapia OJ…)

Let’s get it started! – 30 day VEGAN challenge

One of my goals for 2012 was to do a 30 day vegan challenge, inspired by The 30-Day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

I mentioned this goal to a co-worker, and she was totally on-board to try it with me! So, for the month of June, we will be Vegan. No meat, no eggs, no dairy (oh, cheese, I miss you already!). I realize that being a true Vegan is not just a dietary thing, but a lifestyle change, and maybe it will lead to that. But for now, baby steps…

So, why am I doing this? Animal rights? Health reasons? A little bit of both, actually. I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gradually transitioned to a mostly vegetarian diet. I’ve also been curious to see how cutting dairy products out of my diet will affect my overall health.

More than anything, it’s just a personal challenge. I like to have “projects”, as my husband calls them. It started with planning our wedding, then decorating our house, then getting ready for a baby…and since our plans to move to a new home have stalled out, I need a goal to work toward!

Wish me luck!

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