Ok, the title is a lie. I haven't been vegetarian ALL month, but it's more truthful than "vegan for a month." I had two pot pies that needed to be eaten from our freezer. (my husband hates pot pie so it was up to me to get rid of these things). I didn't want to waste them and just throw them out. I tried picking out the meat but I doubt I got it all. So yes, I ate some meat this month. But I have eaten A LOT of vegan meals. However, once again, I'm not trying to wastefully throw out non-vegan stuff, so I've had a couple of non-vegan things for sure. Like margarine made with buttermilk, Parmesan on pasta, garlic bread from the freezer, etc. And I'll continue eating those things until they are all out of my house (one package of feta cheese my sister won't eat, two jars of chicken bouillon that are going to take a year to get through, vitamin pills made with gelatin, etc.). As I've been grocery shopping this month, I've picked up as many vegan replacements as I can reasonably find, but it's definitely a work in progress. I'm really happy with the transition so far. :) So let's talk about some stuff I've learned this month. Here we go!
Cooking is fun. Grocery shopping is fun. Looking up new meals is fun. I get so happy looking at my grocery cart. It makes me proud when the items are so much healthier than before. I really was simply stuck in a rut with our everyday meals. Forcing myself to switch things up by eliminating animal products has made the entire process of meal planning more fun.
My husband isn't as terrible as I thought he was. My big fear was that he'd throw a fit and get super pissed over our meals. I thought he would refuse to eat so many things. But that hasn't been the case at all! He's been a great sport. He tries everything and if he doesn't like it, we talk about what he doesn't like so that I can try to alter it next time. Instead of him just refusing to eat it again, he gives his suggestions for improvement. It's really helpful and makes me feel like he actually cares about changing his diet as well.
You don't need cheese on everything! Seriously, looking back on my previous diet, we had cheese all the freaking time. There has only been one meal that I really missed cheese on and that was enchiladas. I bought myself some vegan cheddar and slapped it on my enchilada the next time I made them and it was delicious. It fulfilled my little cheese craving. But I'm not putting that vegan cheese on everything either, like I would have with cow cheese. It's reserved just for that one moment that I really thought cheese would make the meal better. Although I do have vegan cheese in the fridge, it's reserved for occasional meals, not thrown on everything like I did with cow milk cheese in the past.
You have to eat more. I have been starving. It's taken me awhile to figure out how much I need to eat to feel full again. A lot of real foods are less calorie-dense than all the stuff I was eating before, dairy especially. I've had to learn to keep that in mind.
Cravings change. I never thought I'd crave lemon steamed broccoli. Or roasted chickpeas. Since I've started feeding my body all these real foods, I think about them more and I want them. Of course, I still have cookie cravings too, but craving healthy food is definitely a new thing for me.
My skin is happy. I have had oily skin ever since I can remember. Within two weeks on this diet, that was not longer the case. My skin is very normal now, something I never even thought was possible with the level of oiliness I was used to. And ever since I was pregnant with my first son (he's two now) I have had upper arm acne. That's been clearing up too since changing my diet!
I want to grow a garden. I've never had an interest in growing plants. My sister has a nice garden, she's grown random little plants inside her house too. I've never out of the blue, woken up, and just been like, "let's go buy a tiny shrub to put in the living room." But now I want plants. I want to grow zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes?! I want to compost all the random produce scraps we go through now. I want to be able to pick my own lunch right out of the yard!
I was not getting enough fiber. I went on cronometer and threw in my old typical day's diet and I was nowhere near 100% on fiber. Now on this new diet, I am always surpassing it. Along those same lines, I never much cared about what nutrients I was getting each day. I really never gave it a single thought. I thought about calories and carbs when I wanted to lose weight. I thought about protein and fiber a little bit when I was pregnant. But in reality, I didn't wonder about vitamins and minerals. I never once thought, how much calcium or vitamin c am I getting today? Now I enjoy getting on cronometer just to see where I'm at or how to formulate the "perfect" day. It's not about calories or losing weight anymore, it's about getting the important nutrients we all need.
It has been a lot of work transitioning away from a crappy American diet. But it's been a lot of fun too. It's been fun learning how to cook differently and trying new things, and figuring out how to veganize my cravings.
I hope this little post was interesting to you and perhaps it helps you see the positive in changing your diet too. :)
Thank you for reading!
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Monday, June 18, 2018
Friday, June 15, 2018
I'm not a chef. I don't write very elegantly about food. :) All I can hope is that these instructions make sense and you're able to replicate this for your own family. It's not too spicy, I think it would be fine for kiddos too.
1 cup dry chickpeas
1 medium sweet potato
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
a couple dashes of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder
1 can light coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1 small can tomato sauce (8 oz)
Makes 4 servings.
Put the chickpeas and sweet potato in water in the crockpot and cook on low all day (8+ hrs). You can soak your chickpeas overnight to make them extra soft, but if you forget, they still turn out fine straight out of the bag into the crockpot.
At dinner time, start your rice in a separate pot or rice cooker before you start the curry.
Add the coconut oil to a pan on medium-low heat, then add the garlic minced. Once the garlic is toasted (just a minute or so), add the seasonings.
Add the sweet potato and chickpeas to the pan. Squish up the sweet potato (it should be super soft after cooking in the crockpot all day, so squishing it should be super easy). My husband likes the chickpeas mashed, so I use a potato masher on about half of the mixture. This way you'll have a mix of full chickpeas and mashed ones, the mashed sweet potato will help thicken the saucey part, you probably won't see any chunks of sweet potato, it just kind of dissolves. Then add the coconut milk and tomato sauce and stir everything up.
Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
I had mine with white rice, steamed broccoli, and a chopped up tomato. You could add veggies straight to the pan if you like, but my husband is the world's pickiest eater, so I just add them to my own bowl.
This was super yummy and not too spicy, but very flavorful.
Friday, June 8, 2018
I've adopted a vegetarian diet. I do plan to work my way up to a vegan diet, but I plan to use up the non-vegan stuff in our house first.
A recap of the last 4.5 days?
For dinner, we've had...
taco salad - with beans and corn, and pureed and watered down salsa for dressing, I made ground beef for Justin
quesadillas - with spicy Mexican hummus and zucchini and it was delicious!
fried cauliflower and mashed potatoes - This was not filling enough. I was starving later in the night.
veggie pasta - With coconut milk, veggie broth, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli. Justin picked out the veggies but he still ate the pasta without cheese on it! And he fried up his own chicken to add to it too.
veggie burgers - (for dinner tonight, technically haven't eaten them yet) I made and froze homemade veggie burgers forever ago and I'm pretty sure I used a real egg instead of a flax egg in them. Gotta look into vegan cheese slice options. I do love me some pepper jack on a veggie burger. But tonight I plan to add a tomato slice to distract myself from the lack of cheese.
The instant mashed potatoes had milk product in it to begin with, plus I actually made it traditionally with milk and butter because my husband was going to be eating it for his meal (he just had a tooth pulled and it was the only thing he wanted to eat, so I thought I'd make it the normal way for him instead of pissing him off by using coconut milk and margarine).
I've had honey several times. But I did buy agave nectar and plan to use it after my honey is gone, which might be awhile because I literally just bought some local honey at the farmer's market the week before I did the challenge.
I'm pretty sure I had something else processed with milk in it too, but I cannot remember what.
But I'm very happy with how the week has gone. I used to have 1/2-1 cup of milk with breakfast, cheese on my salad at lunch, milk and egg in my dressing, cheese sticks and cottage cheese and yogurt for snacks, and meat and dairy for dinner.
I always feel proud after meals now. I really do view food more like fuel than just yummy stuff to pass the time.
My husband wants to go to Red Lobster for our anniversary at the end of the month and I'm very conflicted on whether I should have crab legs. I love crab legs. No doubt. And butter. Mmm. Not sure what I'm going to do there just yet...
I am now a super fan of dairy free ice cream. So Delicious Cashewmilk Dark Chocolate Truffle is the best thing ever! Tastes just like ice cream. Seriously. I even fed it to Justin and he said it was good too!
I am avoiding cheese. I know it's addicting. I bought some vegan cheese and I'll just try to stick to that. My husband is in charge of eating all the real cheese that's in the freezer haha. I'm not sure what the plans will be once we go through all of that though. I haven't made Justin try any vegan cheese yet, so I'm unsure he'll like it. Even though he says "all cheese tastes the same," I'm thinking he'll be okay if we fully switch to vegan cheese one day in the distant future after we use up the pounds of regular cheese in our freezer! For real. there is so much cheese in the freezer. Yes, the vegan cheese is more expensive, but I'm not using it in every single thing like I would regular cheese, so I think it will all work out okay.
Justin usually prefers margarine to butter in the day-to-day, so I think the switch to vegan butter after we use up our regular butter isn't going to be too bad.
We have refrigerated cinnamon rolls and biscuits that are not vegan and need to be eaten soon.
We have cream cheese, Parmesan, cheese snack sticks, and yogurt that need to be given away. Like I said, I don't want to have any cheese for fear of going right back to eating it again.
I'm sure there are dressings and other sauces that are not vegan, but I think we'll just continue using those up until they're gone. Then find alternatives once we need to repurchase. Now, my favorite dressing ever in the whole wide world is not vegan, so I have begun the hunt to try vegan salad dressings.
A cool thing I've noticed about doing the dishes... Things are much easier to clean up. You don't have cooked on cheese or meat that needs to be scrubbed endlessly. It makes you think, if these things are making my pans look like this, what are they doing to my insides?
Okay, now let's talk about some cool changes! I said I didn't feel any better after one week, well
two weeks is a different story, guys!
Let's first talk about my skin. I have oily skin. I have oily days and super oily days. I don't have normal skin days and I definitely don't have dry skin days. This has been the case ever since I can remember. This week, I've noticed my skin has been normal, maybe even dry. (maybe I just think it's dry because I'm so used to being covered in a layer of oil?) And it's the middle of summer. It's hot and humid and yucky and my skin has felt great!
Ever since my first pregnancy, I've had acne on my upper arms. Never had it before that in my life. It didn't go away between pregnancies, it's just always kind of been there for nearly three years now. Well, this week, I can see it is clearing up. It is not 100% gone, but it is totally clearing!
Now if these things are happening on the outside of my body, just imagine what good this diet is doing to the inside!
I get migraines, I get headaches, usually a couple times per week when I'm not pregnant. (Pregnancy is the best because I suffer from sooo many fewer headaches throughout!) I've had two headaches in the two weeks since I've changed my diet. Both came at the end of the day and I had to sleep to make them go away. For one I used a warm, damp washcloth, which is my go-to for migraines. So I'm not going to claim it is a reduction based on the diet just yet. If I can go a month without a major migraine, I might attribute it to the diet, but we'll just have to wait it out, I guess.
One downside? I feel like I could eat all day. I keep feeling like I'm starving. I know I need to up my calorie intake, but I'm just not sure what I want to snack on. I need to look into more healthy snack options (I used to snack on dairy a lot). And I know I could snack on any fruit or veggie, but I just haven't been good about packing stuff for work, in particular.
I have lost 2.5 pounds now and although that makes me happy, I know I need to find a balance for weight loss and not feeling like I'm starving all the time. I am breastfeeding and I need to make sure I have enough calories to keep making milk and taking care of myself.
Speaking of breastfeeding, I have a 2.5 month old son, Eren. Eren has been a fussier baby than his big brother Calvin was. I know babies grow out of these things with time and every baby is different, but I can't help but notice how much happier he's been just in the last week or so, primarily in the last few days, like Sunday onward. I really do wonder if my diet change has helped his little belly and made him feel better! Now if that's the case, that might be one of the coolest changes I've noticed in this very short amount of time.
So that's the update guys. I hope you enjoyed.
Monday, June 4, 2018
I think I'll be trying another recipe next time. My bread is dense and hearty, so it turned out okay, but my husband's white bread totally fell apart.
Leftover veg pizza from the day before.
We went to a family birthday party and luckily Justin's sister in law is vegan. I had some vegan crescent pizza rolls and they inspired me to check out vegan cheeses. Also had some fruit.
Wrap with hummus, corn, beans, and tomatoes.
Chips and salsa
Cashewmilk ice cream and it was totally delicious!
Right now I will say I'm going vegetarian but I hope to transition into a vegan diet. I don't want to waste the food we already have at home, so the plan for now is to find vegan alternatives for anything we need to get from the grocery store, but we're not just going to toss everything that isn't vegan that we already own.
My husband doesn't seem too thrilled. I told him I would still cook meat for him, but we're revamping our dinner ideas list so that I can hopefully cook meat just once a week and he can use leftovers with his meals. Once we start getting the hang of dinners, I'll definitely be posting some meal planning and tips here and on my YouTube channel LainasLife.
I don't really feel different. I don't feel like I have more energy or anything like that. I feel good, but nothing crazy.
I lost one pound, but I'm also 11 weeks postpartum and breastfeeding, so it could be attributed to many things.
It feels like a diet I could totally do. I'm not depriving myself of sweets, I'm just learning new recipes to get that sweet tooth fix.
Not everything is off-limits. I definitely learned there are a lot of surprising vegan things out there.
After doing a little research, I'm not worried about vitamin deficiencies. That's something that I always wondered about before looking into the vegan lifestyle.
I felt really good about the contents of my grocery cart when I went to the store. haha.
I wonder about the effect on my breastfed baby Eren. I wonder if he has a sensitivity to dairy. He's been a somewhat fussy baby and I've contemplated taking dairy out of my diet to see if it helps. It's going to take awhile to know for sure since the grandmas are giving him pumped milk from a few weeks ago when they have him, but perhaps in a month or so we might notice a difference in his attitude. It's a tough thing to judge though, because babies can just grow out of the fussy stage too.
I feel like the vegan diet is a modern day diet, almost like it's just the natural progression of things. Due to globalization, food is so widely available from all over the world and can be transported just about anywhere.
Also, why are vegan options so pricey?! I know it has a lot to do with government subsidies for the meat and dairy industry and that just makes me feel sad honestly. Even on the drive home from the grocery store, my husband made a comment about how much pricier it is to eat healthy.
I've been asked to take a look at my WHY? Why do I want to be vegan? I understand that I need a WHY in order to stay motivated, but I'm not sure I have one particular reason. Health, environment, the animals? I just don't know yet. I think to myself, if I couldn't kill a chicken to feed myself, why should I eat it because someone else killed it for me? I think about the fact that so much of the world's crops are grown just to feed animals for us to kill to eat, when we could just eat the crops... and that literally just sounds so stupid to me. And all of the damage the entire meat industry does to our planet is crazy when you consider all of the steps along the way from growing crops and transportation and concentrated animal pollution too. I have a lot of thoughts floating around my head, but I don't think there's one in particular that stands out for me right now. I'm sure that will change as time goes on.
I stopped drinking cow milk about a year ago for a couple months. It's when I was breastfeeding my first son and it made me sad to think of these cow mothers forced to be milked everyday. I hated pumping myself. I felt a sort of sympathy for them. But I didn't cut out cheese or yogurt or whatever else. I didn't think that deeply about it. Then over this weekend I saw a video of a mother cow walking across a field and her udders were so full she could hardly walk and I felt her pain. I know how much it sucks to have your boobies so full they could pop or to have mastitis or clogged ducts and I felt sad for her. And I don't want to contribute to that. "You are voting with your dollar," Ellen Fisher says a lot and this was always popping into my head this week. Yes, vegan food can be pricier, but isn't it worth it?
I don't think I can watch Earthlings. I keep seeing people recommend it but I've seen the trailer and I really, really don't think I could watch it. I know I should. I know it will motivate me 1000x more, but I'm not ready for that yet. For now I'm going to try my best to head for a vegan diet and hopefully I can be a good example to those around me, particularly my husband and my boys.
Thanks for reading. I love you guys.
Saturday, June 2, 2018
Captain Crunch (yeah I know, so healthy haha)
Veg Pizza (we actually went out for pizza, even though I was super nervous about going out to eat on this diet)
Smoothie with kiwi, strawberries, coconut water, and spinach
Leftover bean and corn enchilada with TOMATOES (If you haven't noticed already, I'm pretty obsessed with tomatoes)
Thanks for reading!
More homemade granola with almond milk.
Smoothie with coconut water, banana, and bluberries.
Another wrap with hummus, tomatoes, spinach, and leftover casserole from Wednesday.
Flatbread pizza with tomato sauce, nutritional yeast, cauliflower, zucchini, and tomatoes.
Chips and salsa
Thanks for reading!
Friday, June 1, 2018
Homemade granola with almond milk.
Wrap with tomatoes, spinach, hummus, & leftover Mexican potato casserole from last night.
Bean & corn enchiladas
Not gonna lie, this was the first time this week I felt like my meal just wasn't complete. I really missed the cheese! I think next time I'll season the bean and corn mixture, it seemed kind of plain, even with the sauce.
More cookies. I know, I know, not healthy.
Thanks for reading!