Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 8 - Still Going Strong!

OK, it's day 8 now.  I haven't eaten meat since July 23, 2010, when I had some sausage and ham on pizza.  I had pizza last night, but the toppings were black olives, mushrooms, onion, and hot Giardiniera.  I think I'm doing OK on the meatless track.  I do need to find a good substitute for cheese so I can make my own pizza on Friday evenings with my cheese alternative.  I have to find a local store that sells Daiya so I can try it and see if it lives up to all of the hype I've read about it.  If I found a suitable substitute for cheese, I'd be able to go vegan for the the most part and then transition to totally vegan.  It's been a major accomplishment just being meatless.  I have eaten less and less meat over the past year, but I haven't made a deliberate effort to be meatless, so this is a first.  YAY for me! :)

My sons are getting used to me not eating meat. Last night when they returned from having Giordano's pizza with their father and his cousin, they just looked to see what veggies I put on my pizza.  :::smile:::  That cracks  me up.  I'm moving toward no dairy products, although I don't eat much.  Half 'n half (fat free) in my coffee, cheese on pizza, and that's about it.  I eat vegan margarine (Smart Balance Light is vegan and easier to find than Earth Balance), and I have almond milk on my cereal.  I also have to start using an egg replacer when baking, although I have a few vegan cookbooks and recipes that don't call for any eggs, so that's hit or miss.

All in all, I'm moving along in the right direction and soon plan to be fully vegan.  With so many non-dairy alternatives available, there is no reason not to make the transition.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Smorgasbord Anyone?!?!?

I have a nightly smorgasbord at my house.  Last night is a prime example.  I made my sons cheeseburgers (90% lean burger) with Tator Tots.  I always make 4, but since I've been eating more E2L, I try to resist eating them leaving the 2 extra for their lunches the next day.  Usually, I am very tempted to eat a burger, especially when I get home late and am cooking late.  However, last night was different.  I wasn't tempted in the least to have a cheeseburger.  Instead, I had a homemade veggie burger left over from the ones I made for supper earlier in the week.  (OK, OK, I caved and had a couple of Tator Tots, but hey! They are vegetarian!)   

I raised my two sons, who are 21 and 19, on SAD food.  I've been trying to gradually convert them into more healthy eating habits, more fruit, veggies, and salads.  I think I've finally weened them off of white bread and they eat double fiber bread now (5 gr. of fiber per slice), which is much better for them.  I have not weened them off of chips, but the oldest son only eats baked chips, and the younger son eats those or pretzels, which neither are really good, but they are better than the full fat snacks.  Although I'm making progress, I can't see getting the boys to eat vegan or even totally vegetarian unless it's some kind of meal that doesn't hit them in the face as being vegan or vegetarian.

I have found that it's absolutely crucial for me to have ready made Eat To Live (E2L) friendly food in the house for these types of evenings.  It's getting easier not to eat the same food as my sons, but it is harder when I have to prepare their meal and then not eat any of it.  One thing is that has helped is this blogging and having an entire list of vegan and vegetarian blogs that I follow now.  That's where I found the veggie burger recipe.  It has given me new inspiration. 

The absolute hardest thing for me about eating E2L is that I don't have any desire to become totally raw, so that means I have to cook from scratch, which I like cooking so that part isn't so bad, but it's the long list of ingredients and ALL of the preparation that is something to get used to.  I work full-time, and on nights like last night when I don't step into the house until 6:30PM at night and THEN I have to think about cooking something elaborate, it gets hard.  I'm going to have to start planning where I have one "cook day" on the weekend and then can freeze things in individual servings for easy reheat and eat nights.  I also need to sit down and pre-plan my week's menu.  I used to do that and man, it keeps me on track.  There is something about putting each day's meal down in writing one week at a time that makes cooking whatever is on that day's menu a no-brainer.  Maybe it's because I don't have to think about it that makes it easier or maybe it's that I know what's coming and am already mentally prepared to do the prep work involved that makes it a piece of cake, but all I know is that for me, it works. Once I get that down pat, I'll be set.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day Three - Haven't Caved Yet!

This week is my late week at work. By most people's standards, it isn't a "late" week because I get out of work at 5PM.  It just means that I have to stay and close the office.  I took my girls to the dog park because they hadn't been in at least a week and they needed to get out of the house for a period of time.  That meant by the time I got back home at 7:30PM, my youngest son, Derek was starving and wanting me to fix him something to eat.  David, my oldest son, had eaten a leftover veggie burger to hold him over before he went to play basketball.

I made Derek two grilled ham and cheese sandwiches.  Normally when I make the sandwiches, I'll have a slice of ham, but not today.  I wasn't really tempted...well, maybe a little.  I turned around to put the ham in a ziplock bag and as I turned the rest of the ham FLEW out of the packaging and landed in the dogs' water bowl.  The bottom had a small rip, which obviously expanded.  Derek doubled over laughing.  All but one slice of the ham fell into the dogs' bowl.  The dogs were VERY happy.  I actually had to laugh, too, as it was pretty comical.

After all of that, I still needed to eat.  Before on a typical night, I'd eat chips or ice cream instead of a decent dinner.  Tonight, I had a piece of the vegetarian lasagna that I made on Saturday.  Let me tell you, that hit the spot.  It's sinful that something can taste that good and have a little more than 1/3 of the calories of regular lasagna.  And, I don't feel "stuffed" after eating it.  For dessert, I had a bowl of fresh strawberries that I had diced with my Vidalia Chop Wizard.  The acrylic margarita glass just added to their delight!

I still need to figure out what I'm going to make with those mangoes!  I guess that's my new quest.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What a Surprise!

My 21 year old son asked me to fix a vegetarian meal for dinner.  I was very surprised because I didn't think he had fully recovered from the vegetarian lasagna.  LOL  He must have, though, as he texted me and asked me to make a vegetarian meal and to be creative.  Of course, this was while he was having a Sonic burger with his father.  Out of all of the fast food restaurants, that is on my least favorite top 5 list.

So, I spent and hour or more trying to decide what to make.  I have never made veggie burgers.  In fact, I've only had one veggie burger in the past decade (lifetime?).  I had a Boca Burger.  It was OK.  (I bought a box of 4 a couple of months ago and I think I still have 3 left.) But, I wanted to make something from scratch.  I "binged" for veggie burger recipes and found some great websites and blogs in the process.  I finally settled on the Ultimate Veggie Burger Recipe posted on 101 Cookbooks.
I don't think  my burgers look quite like the ones on the 101 Cookbooks website, and they certainly were not thick enough for me to slice through the middle and add things into them, but they were good.  The recipe said to make 12 burgers 1½ inches thick.  I think they would have been the size of silver dollars then.  I only made 8 burgers that were about ½ inch thick.  They were still small.  I had mine with mustard and romaine lettuce on a very thin whole wheat sandwich round.  (It was similar to a pita, but much smaller.)  My sons wanted cheese on their burgers.  One ate his with lettuce, the other ate his with mustard and ketchup, both had the burgers on the sandwich rounds. 

To round out our vegetarian meal, we all had salads.  My oldest son had just plain romaine lettuce and light Italian dressing.  My younger son had a few garbanzo beans and chopped pecans with Ranch dressing.  I had my normal salad with many veggies, garbanzo beans, pecans, and light Italian.  It was a nice, light summer meal.
While I prepared the salad for tonight's meal, I also chopped veggies for my salads for this week.  I love taking a salad to work for lunch.  I love my Vidalia Chop Wizard.  We had leftover veggie burgers, too, so there will be some of those for a dinner this week.

I've found that eating vegetarian and vegan requires a lot more work and preparation for a meal.  To get really good quality meals, many will need to be homemade from scratch.  I like to cook.  However, this is going to require a whole new mindset where food preparation is concerned.  Most of the recipes I review have TONS of ingredients.  Take the burgers tonight...I needed lemon zest (thankfully, I zested both the lemon and the lime from yesterday's water and froze the zest), and other ingredients I normally don't have around the house (alfalfa sprouts and fresh cilantro).  Then, there is all of the chopping and dicing.  I did use my food processor, which hasn't gotten used enough, so I do think this way of eating will help me to fully appreciate all of the kitchen gadgets I've accumulated over the years.  It made quick work of chopping the cilantro, alfalfa sprouts, and onion into smaller pieces for a smoother, more uniform burger.

So, my next adventure should include something with tofu.  I bought some tofu tonight.  I also bought two mangoes.  I want to find something to make with them, too.  Life is interesting!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day One ... Again!

So, it's day one...again!  I have vowed to eat healthier over and over again.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a total failure.  I eat more vegetables and fruit and much less meat.  I absolutely love salads without any cheese, eggs, or meat.  I drink mostly water and little to no pop.  Once in a blue moon, I'll have a Coke or Pepsi, but it's rare.  I even bought one of those pitchers that has a chamber to infuse your water with fruit.  Right now, I have nectarines flavoring my water.  I'm going to switch out the fruit today and make it with a lemon and lime combo.  I've also used it to infuse iced tea with fruit.  I made sun tea and then added it to the pitcher with strawberries.  It's a nice way to get more water with a little flavor.  But food wise, I have been caving when I fix my sons' dinners.  I just haven't been into cooking for them and for me.  Lately, more and more, I have been craving healthier food.  So, it's time to try it again.

I belong to a Yahoo! group called Eat To Live.  Mostly, I like the group, but some of the members are extreme and feel they can give medical advice to people being treated for disease by their doctors via Internet posts that should supersede the doctors' advice.  Some are self-righteous and jump on everything they "deem" to be outside of what they think should be discussed in the group.  Mostly, I just read and delete.  I don't feel it's a very supportive group as mostly, the people think if you aren't eating vegan, you are wrong.  It seems as if you have to be a purist or striving to become a purist to be fully accepted in the group.  Sometimes, I get great ideas for new foods or vegetarian/vegan substitutes for dairy or meat items that actually taste good.

I don't know if my goal is to eat vegan.  My goal is to eat healthy and eliminate most meat from my diet.  I've already eliminated most dairy.  I don't eat cheese on sandwiches or salads.  OK, I eat it on pizza, but I haven't found a good vegan alternative for it yet, although someone suggested Daiya in the Yahoo! group.  I even have almond milk in my fridge to eat on my cereal. That being said, I won't give up my fat free half and half for my morning coffee.  To do that, I'll have to gradually wean myself to drinking my coffee black.  And personally, my morning cuppa joe is a thing of pleasure for me and I hate having to mess with it. 

If you have gotten the impression that I'm conflicted about this whole eating healthier thing if it means I have to become a vegan, you're right.  I think what I need to do is find a compromise for myself.  And I'm working on that.  I think by eating healthier more and more, I will eventually find a balance I'm comfortable with.

So, today is DAY ONE ... AGAIN!  LOL  And for breakfast, I made Steel Cut Oats.  I always think these smell better than they taste, but these are pretty good.  Here's what I did.

Steel Cut Oats with Apples and Spices

1/2 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
1 teas. vanilla extract
1 teas. cinnamon
1/4 teas. almond extract
1 Gala apple, (skin on) diced (or use your favorite apple)
1 teas. organic Amber Agave Nectar

I put everything in my rice cooker (basic with only keep warm and cook settings).  I hit "cook" and let 'er rip.  I've also used a cup of frozen peach slices, or a cup of fresh or frozen cherries (halved), or a cup of frozen blueberries (add these later in the cooking process).  Instead of the Agave Nectar, you can use a tablespoon of brown sugar or pure maple syrup or you can leave that out and add a sweetener to your taste when you eat it.
The picture at the top is my breakfast this morning with a small amount of almond milk added.  I didn't add any additional sweetener as it turned out sweet enough. I actually think that almond milk is sweeter than cow's milk and that it added a hint of sweetness to the oats.  The longer it sat, the sweeter it tasted as it absorbed the almond milk.  This made enough for me for two breakfast meals.  I ate half and saved half to have tomorrow or Monday.

Tonight, I'm baking the vegetarian lasagna I made a couple of days ago.  The electricity went out right when I was going to pop it in the oven.  I made it with ricotta cheese mixed with Parmesan cheese and will sprinkle a bit of mozzarella on it before I bake it.  We'll have garlic bread with it.  OK, so that has cheese in it.  So shoot me!  I'm not a vegan yet.  :::chuckle:::