A lot has been going on here lately, good and bad. I’ll start with the bad and get it out of the way.
I’m sorry. I know there were a lot of you out there rooting for us to make it the whole month vegan (I want to thank everyone from OCCH for the support!), but we just can’t do it anymore.
It has nothing to do with ‘tolerating’ vegan food. Yes, some of it was pretty bad, but there was also some completely edible, even GOOD stuff (namely Meatless Meatballs from Trader Joe’s, and Gardein brand beefless crumbles).
During our week and a half of no animal products, we talked every day about how we felt, energy levels, hunger, cravings, etc. This past week, I’ve had a nearly debilitating wrist problem. I couldn’t carry anything with that hand, couldn’t open jars or tupperware, couldn’t even turn the ignition or the steering wheel in the car (and since I primarily drive for a living, this is a serious issue). And it wasn’t going away! It just kept getting worse and worse. Then, over the weekend, I was having severe pain in my Achilles heels (yes, both of them). Top that with all-over soreness, muscle cramps and spasms, and feeling severely sleep-deprived, I felt like I’d been in a car accident.
Sean was having similarly weird symptoms out of the blue. He was also feeling extremely exhausted, even after 10 hours of sleep. He was having sore muscles all over, and even had some random bruising on his legs (and he just doesn’t bruise).
When we talked it over, we decided that perhaps our bodies just couldn’t handle the diet change and the new, strange foods we were putting into them (egg replacer, fake cheese, fake butter, etc). We felt like our bodies were turning on themselves to make up for any deficits in nutrition. Since we both need to be active and alert for work (he’s a Fedex Courier, and I’m a nanny), this was just too much for us.
Add to that the fact that our original plan was to have as little processed food as possible, and vegan just doesn’t work (“fake” anything isn’t natural).
After a long talk about all of this, we decided that we would both finish out the month on a vegetarian diet (nothing new for me, but still a big stretch from Sean’s norm of steak and sausage loving diet).
This is now Day 2 of allowing ourselves to have animal product, but not animal meat.
Day 1: Yesterday
Frankly, we were tempted to go buy a block of cheese, a gallon of milk, and a dozen eggs immediately to add to our fridge, but we refrained. We figured since we already bought certain foods to make for lunches and dinners, we would finish those up, and wait to buy cheese and what not on our shopping day (with one exception, see below). We still weren’t “good” dieters, however.
We’d both been craving pizza for weeks now (ever since we cut out fast food and processed foods, we haven’t really had it)… So we got a cheese pizza. Two, actually. I only had a couple slices, but Sean finished the one pizza yesterday for lunch, had a couple slices from the second one for a snack later that night, and finished the second one off today. He then informs me today, “I had a kind of dumb epiphany… When you eat shit food, you feel like shit.”
Yup, Sean. That’s what I’ve been saying. You are what you eat. After those couple slices, I felt gross and kind of sick. Sean didn’t feel it until today when he went for a run, but he still felt it. He then informed me he’s back on the wagon. No processed foods, no meat, no fast food. He said if he does have a craving for something “bad” in the future, he’ll only have a small amount instead of filling up on it. Moderation is key.
Day 2: Today
Aside from Sean eating the rest of the pizza for lunch, today was a pretty good day for us. We had the same vegan breakfast we’ve been eating for nearly two weeks now. Sean had oatmeal, and I had puffed rice and almond milk, with a berry/banana smoothie.
For lunch, I had some leftover vegan pasta my mom made for us last week – noodles, marinara sauce, artichokes, mushrooms, meatless meatballs, etc. Yum. Also, some mixed nuts, and a piece of vegan brownie for dessert.
Dinner had a new dish tonight – brown rice and barley. The barley added a nice little pop of flavor, and a neat consistency to the brown rice. I enjoyed it with a sprinkle of soy sauce (Sean had teriyaki). We also had spinach/romaine salad (to which I added some ranch dressing. Mmmmm ranch, I’m so glad to have you back!).
So yea, we’re not going crazy with the whole cheese and eggs and milk thing because we already bought groceries and planned meals for this week, but we will not be scared to have things like ranch dressing, or fear eating out with friends anymore.
Sorry for the rant. Now on to happier, joyful topics!
We planted all of the little garlic cloves into the toilet paper tube pots I made. For the giant ones, we cut soy and almond milk containers across the middle and planted them in those. We also planted two lemon seeds and five apple seeds we happened to find lying around our kitchen the same day we were doing all of the other planting. No signs of sprouts from those yet (need to give them a couple weeks), but the garlic is going nuts! We’ll have to transplant them pretty soon, actually.
My poor flowers don’t look like they’re going to make it. I think they needed to be in a shadier part of the garden.
The romaine seems to have been visited by a hungry snail or something. We’ll start looking into organic, holistic methods of getting rid of pests and things.
The plum tree has finally blossomed all over, and we can definitely see some leaves showing up. Bees and wasps (we have at least 2, possible as many as 4 or 5 wasp nests under the eaves of the house. We’ll probably have to try to get rid of those sooner or later) are showing up every day to pollinate the apricot, plum, and avocado trees (YAY fruit!). The apricot doesn’t have many blossoms yet, and is filling out its leaves. There are tiny fruits growing, and I can’t wait for them to start turning color.
I weeded the serrano pot the other morning. When we first saw sprouts coming up, we assumed they were the serranos, so we left them. Then we saw a different type of little plant poking up, and I realized the weeds poked up first, and the serranos were a little late to join the party, so I pulled all the weeds and left the little pepper plants. (I remembered the pattern I had planted the seeds in, and did a little research on what the sprouts should look like just to be double-sure before I started yanking stuff willy-nilly)
Amber Waves of Grain
Sean and I were joking over dinner tonight that we had really opened up the ‘grains’ section of our recipe book this past month. Quinoa, couscous, barley, and even brown rice (we always made white) were nonexistent in our kitchen only a few weeks ago. Now, we love them all and will be keeping them in stock with our lovely mason jar collection in the pantry! Also, we will continue to try out new (to us) kinds of grains, rice, and beans in hopes of continuing to grow our (small) collection of recipes that we both enjoy.
The other thing we’ve realized is that many of the recipes we’ve been trying out are a little too fancy and complicated for us. It seems that we try the recipe, think that it’s alright, and then try the ingredients by themselves as leftovers, and think that they are much better plain, or with just a little drizzle of something on them (usually soy sauce or teriyaki sauce). Perhaps “plain and hearty” meals are the kind we like, and we will be keeping our eyes out for those kinds in the future.
So what do our meals look like?
As I’ve said, we’ve added four new foods to our kitchen: quinoa, couscous, barley, and brown rice. Here’s how we enjoy them.
Quinoa: Baked quinoa patties are perfect for lunches. Two are enough to give you a boost of protein and energy to make it through the rest of the day. I like mine warmed up and then slathered in raw avocado, but Sean prefers his plain. They are just as good cold.
Cali Style Quinoa is something we threw together one day from the remnants of the fridge (the day before our shopping trip). I like it for lunch or dinner. You make it just like you make fried rice (quinoa instead of rice, add an egg, and whatever else sounds good). We’ve added black beans, spinach, cheese, avocado, and garlic. Would probably be awesome with onion (for those of you that like it. We don’t), corn, other flavorful herbs and seasonings, or even some salsa. I like a little soy sauce on top of mine, and a spoon to dig in!
Couscous: We like it as a side with dinner, though we’ve also had it as a main course, haha. We tried it with a cherry tomato, cucumber puree thing on top, and it was refreshing (but again, a little too fancy for US). Again, perfect with just a little soy sauce, and a side salad. We will definitely be experimenting more with couscous!
Barley + Brown Rice: The recipe we tried tonight had us cook these two things together, and I must say it was very yummy. I told Sean I want to try it with some sauteed or stir fried veggies on top (spinach, mushrooms, and bok choy sound DELICIOUS). For those of you who eat meat, we think it would be delicious with a little chicken or beef.
What are your favorite grains and rices? How do you prepare them?