Day Seven: Final Day

Both my husband and I are sitting here waiting for midnight to strike. Pepperjack cheese in the fridge is calling our name!

To kill those remaining 10 minutes, let me share our interesting trip to Costco this afternoon as well as some other ramblings of my findings during my *vegan* week. After a week of no animal products, this Costco visit was going to be a true test in our challenge. I felt it was going to be more torture than anything. ...And it was.

Why of all days of sampling did they have to have all the yummy animal products out today! Pork chops! Bacon! Quiche! Even twice baked potatoes we couldn't sample! Bah! The boy was disappointed but was good about inquiring at each sample station if it was a vegan safe choice and if it wasn't...why not. I'm sure people were completely confused by our vegan conversations while we had a cartful of cheese, eggs, pepperoni and milk. We chuckled in between our grumbling of having to turn down yummy samples. The hardest part of the whole shopping trip was not going to the food court. It is a treat for us in our bimonthly trip to Costco for the boys to get hotdogs while I get a piece of pizza or the chicken hot pocket style food. To appease the boy, we did buy a vegan safe snack, sat down to eat a couple handfuls each. The boy wasn't thrilled but obliged. Wish he could be this good while in class. That is a whole different rant altogether!

Wanted to make something festive and sweet for the family. It is the holidays afterall. Hey! Smores would be an excellent idea. I'll make them in the oven for easier eating and less mess. Made a point to check labels for animal products...organic graham crackers (check), dark chocolate chips (check) and marshmallows. Just made about 3 squares per person. Enough to enjoy but not overindulge. Naturally, right after eating them, my husband pipes up....doesn't marshmallows have gelatin in them? Oh crap! I thought I checked the labels...all but the marshmallows. Shit! They have gelatin in them. Oops, we didn't have many...scouts honor! (they were delish though!)

We had a Vegan Goulash for dinner. No recipe needed, I just pulled out some veggies that needed to be cooked (onions and cauliflower) tossed some seasonings while cooking. Added sundried tomatoes and leftover wild rice and called it dinner! :)

I would like to Thank my friend, Barb, for challenging me to go beyond my normal healthy eating regime. Being a vegetarian is not always easy but I was able to get more of a birds eye view of what a typical vegetarian goes through and even tougher as a vegan. The choices are just so limited. Not just in grocery stores but out in the real world of restaurants, food courts and social gatherings.

This took longer than 10 minutes. It is a quarter after midnight so off to the fridge we go! 


Day Six: Vegan Challenge

Sorry Vegan folks...this just isn't pizza without cheese. We have sampled non-animal based cheeses at the store and it was a very big no go. I do not want to offend those that do enjoy those cheeses so will leave it just as that without the many descriptive words I could use to describe the taste.

This was the toughest meal to make without adding cheese. Even consulted with my husband to whether or not to add just.a.little.bit. He said why not try it without. We agreed to the challenge so let's give it a try.

You know, it wasn't bad at all. Quite tasty. But, it was not *pizza*. I'll be honest, the likelihood of me making this again without cheese is pretty slim.

Because I have a pizza recipe already on here, I am not going to post a full recipe. I did add quinoa and wild rice to the flour blend. The topping was sundried tomatoes and broccoli blended into a bit of a chunky paste, topped with onions and olives (our fav).


Day Five: Vegan Challenge

Folks, it is late but wanted to make sure that I keep this challenge up to date.

The boy did ask today if we are ever going to eat animal stuff again. Said he likes the vegan stuff but the animal stuff is good too. Maybe we can sometimes have meat and sometimes eat vegan. Little does he realize, we do eat various types of cuisines. He is such a cute kid.

We did have to resist the urge to add sour cream and diced cheddar. I did think about it. Decided against it because I am a stickler about keeping my word. About halfway through eating, the husband pipes up about it being too bad we couldn't add the sour cream and cheese. I quickly laughed since I was thinking the same thing! Even without the *extras* the chili turned out very tasty.

Go ahead, I dare you to try and make a meatless chili! You just might like it. :)

Black Bean Chili (vegan style)

1 potato cubed
1 large onion diced large
3 carrots chopped large
4 celery stalks sliced large
1 can chopped tomatoes
2-3 tablespoon chili seasoning*
3 cups black beans cooked (I cook from dried, can will work too)
1 cup cooked TVP (optional)
water (varies to thickness preference)

Medium high heat, cook potato and onion until brown. Add carrots and celery, cook for an additional 10 minutes. Toss in cooked beans, fill with water (until it reaches just over beans, if you like more soupy consistency, add more water) and canned tomatoes. Allow to simmer for approx. 1 hour. Add TVP (textured vegetable product). This resembles ground meat. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

*If you are using TVP, it is best to reconstitute with warm water and the seasonings. If you are not using TVP, add the seasoning at the time you add the canned tomatoes.


Day Four: Vegan Challenge

Holy crap this has been fun! Equally as challenging since most recipes call for some animal product of some kind. The family also seem to be better adjusted to what acceptable to eat. Figured by this time, we would be feeling a bit lethargic due to the lack of *meat*. So far, we are doing pretty well.

I do miss cheese. Still have a small block of colby jack cheese sitting in the door of the refrigerator. It is a wicked block of cheese. Calls my name trying to entice me to take a nibble. Cruel world we live in. Little does the cheese know that it is going to be gobbled up soon. Ha! That will show it!

Thought I would give a heads up. I will be breaking my *no scale for 30 days* vow on Saturday morning. Curious to see how the vast change in food choices affects my weight. Since I did weigh Monday at a doctors appointment, I have a preview of what to expect. Will also be nice to shed the 4 pounds I gained during the holidays...looks around innocently. (I do plan on having a much healthier xmas dinner since I will be cooking at home this year)

This dish was an absolute hit tonight. This is one of those dishes that call for a lot of animal based products such as sausage, butter and egg. I was able to pull it off beautifully without any of those products. Isn't it purty? I'm rather proud of myself.

Stuffed Acorns

2 large acorn squash
coconut oil
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

1 large onion diced
2 celery stalks chopped fine
1 small apple chopped
1/2 cup fresh cranberries (1/4 cup if you use dried cranberries)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon poultry seasonings (sage, thyme, marjoram)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 cup cooked wild rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Half the acorn squash and scoop seeds and pulp out. Rinse and pat dry. Rub a layer of coconut oil all over the meat portion of the acorn squash. Sprinkle sugar over all 4 halves. Lay in a glass baking dish (with approx. 1/2 inch deep with water) flesh side up. Bake for 20 minutes.

Sauté onions until translucent. Add celery, apples and seasonings. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add cranberries and pecans. When cranberries start to break apart, add rice and mix well.

Remove acorn squash from oven, scoop rice mixture into the squash pockets. Return to oven and bake 20-30 minutes.


Day Three: Vegan Challenge

My friend will be pleased to know that the Vegan Challenge made it's way to my workplace. Of course the conversations made me crave meat since that is just about all we talked about...how much we love our bacon, cheese, yogurt and all those animal products that many of us have a tough time walking away from. It also presents a way to talk about healthy eating habits without being pushy. I loathe people who push their agenda whether it be Pepsi is better than Coke to who is the better politician. My focus right this moment is whether I use wild rice or quinoa for dinner. Heavy decisions!

The boy enjoyed his lunch of honey roasted nuts (with oats and sesame seeds), an organic graham cracker square, pomegranate/spinach salad,  olives and a cup of coconut milk.

There was a salad that was purchased the day before the challenge that needed to be eaten or thrown out. My husband was more than happy to consume that for lunch since it was loaded with feta cheese and salami. I happily ate leftovers from last night's dinner.

We used the last of the vegetables tonight. Perhaps you have seen my recipe for Cabbage Rolls. A classic comfort food favorite. While my original recipe does contain ground meat and cheese, I created a vegan version. It was as big of a hit as the original recipe was. My husband was pleasantly surprised. The boy requested leftovers be put in his lunch. He is lucky I love him, leftovers are suppose to be for me!

Cabbage Boats

1 head large cabbage (do not cut up!)
1 large onion
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cooked beans (your choice, I used the remainder of kidney from last nights dinner)
1 tablespoon poultry spice blend (sage, parsley, marjoram, thyme, pepper)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1 can organic canned tomatoes
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes

Put the full head of cabbage in a pot of boiling water. Allow to boil for 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel leaves (2 per person is my rule of thumb), chop finely and set aside. Sauté onions until translucent, add spices, salt and cabbage. Simmer for 15 minutes. Blend tomatoes, sugar and sundried tomatoes until chopped loosely and add to cabbage mix. Mix in quinoa and beans.

Fill each cabbage leaf with cabbage mixture, leave top open like a boat. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.


Day Two: Vegan Challenge

Well, I don't think we did too bad today. The boy forgot his lunch (insert growly mommy sounds here). He explained he tried to make good choices. He had a bean burrito and white milk. He held his head down in shame as he shared he had a dairy product. It tickled me that he was at least aware of our challenge for the week. Told him not to sweat it, he did well with the burrito. The husband didn't do too bad either...I think. I know he had a bowl of cereal late morning but not sure if he used the coconut milk or the remainder of the regular milk we have still left.

It is not uncommon for us to eat vegetarian style, even for a couple of days at a time, vegan is pushing our limit. Knowing we are avoiding whole classes of foods makes one crave for it. Passed a Burger King while out walking and wanted a chicken sandwich. I've not desired this in months! Been fine, but as soon as I put a restriction to it, I want it. This sums up how I feel about *dieting* in general. The moment you feel restricted, you crave it. Have to keep reminding myself that there is no restriction, it is a choice... decision in how we are eating this week.

With that said, we had the most delicious dinner!

Cauliflower Supreme

1 large onion chopped large
1 head cauliflower sliced
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (I used the kind soaked in olive oil and seasonings)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon spicy seasoning blend of your choice. I used a Northern African blend.

2 cups cooked kidney beans on the side (I use dried beans. Soak then cook.)

Saute onions until translucent, add cauliflower and celery. Continue to cook on medium heat while you prepare the tomatoes. In a blender, add can of tomatoes, sundried tomatoes and water. You just want to blend coarsely, not puree. Once blended, add to vegetables. Add your choice of seasonings, sugar and olive oil. Simmer for approx. 20 minutes. Serve with a 1/2 cup of the kidney beans on the side.


I've been challenged...

...to go vegan for a week. Well, actually, she said vegetarian but upped the challenge to vegan since we do eat a lot of vegetarian dishes. I did check with my family first to see if they would also like to be included in the challenge. Will also be easier for me to cook if everyone is on board.

Today, Sunday, is the day I chose to start. Hardest day for us since Sundays tend to be our big meat laced meal for brunch. Because we've been busy with holiday decorating, brunch kind of passed us by. The boy and I started our day with some organic grained granola and coconut milk (he had the original version while I had the unsweetened version for much lower carb count). He loved it. Snacked on nuts, fruit, veggies and organic graham crackers (checked the label, no animal products) throughout the day.

I should warn my friend upfront though, we do have a small amount of milk, 2 eggs and a 1/4 block of cheese that did not get eaten in time for Sunday's challenge. They do need to be consumed during the week but I promise, nothing else! :)

Love a good challenge. Will update during the week with ramblings of missing my eggs and cheese as well as postings of recipes of my non-animal product dishes.

Anyone want to join the challenge?

**Editing to add Day One's dinner**

3 small yams cubed
1 large onion chopped large
2 cups fresh green beans cut in bite size pieces
1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 heaping tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 can coconut milk

On the side:
fresh spinach
cooked wild rice

Cook cubed yams until almost tender, add onions and green beans. While cooking, mix the coconut milk and peanut butter together. Be sure to lick the spoon. When onions and green beans start to brown, add milk/peanut butter mixture to pan. Add salt and garam masala seasoning.

Simmer for 20 mins. Serve on a bed of fresh spinach. Add a serving of wild rice on top (or side as pictured).