Thursday, January 31, 2013

One Month

I have finished one month eating a plant based diet.  It wasn't too hard.  I do spend a lot more time thinking about what I am eating. I read more labels - just what is that cereal or pasta made with?  Dining out is the toughest because I know I cannot pick from the entire menu. However, I have been able to find something every where I have gone. Things that I have to think about will become second nature later on. I have not noticed any difference in how feel either good or bad. I dropped 4 pounds over the course of the month.

For breakfast I made a Cornmeal Porridge sprinkled with cashews and drizzled with maple syrup.  This is a dish I have made many times over the years because it cooks faster than the steel cut oats.  I have some corn  meal that I picked up from the mill in North Carolina that is very flavorful. It has a more smooth texture that traditional grits.

Lunch consisted of last night's dinner leftovers. Tempeh Sloppy Joe on carrot buns and Pasta and Bean Salad.  Dinner was creamy Pumpkin, Carrot and Apple Soup with Braised Eggplant over brown rice. A carrot, apple, and some cherry tomatoes were cooked in stock until tender when the canned pumpkin was added.  Everything was pureed with an immersion blender and some oyster mushrooms were scattered on the top.  The eggplant was steamed then sauteed in a soy and sesame sauce with some green onions.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rainy Day

Why does it always rain on the day the dogs are groomed? They are so gorgeous and fluffy and the rain curls the fur.  This morning was spent at Valley Motors where I finally got the new gas pedal installed.  Hopefully, that is it for the car until the 60,000 mile maintenance in June.  Breakfast was quick one of Cocoa Rice Cereal, banana, and vanilla rice milk.  The cereal had nice chocolate taste without all the sugar found in the more commercial versions.

During the day, the weather was wonderful making its way to 70 degrees. We took the dogs out for lunch (before bath time) at Mama's On the Half Shell. I had what will be my standard there from the kid's menu of  Pasta and Marinara Sauce. The server told me they could do veggie pizza without cheese for me. I may try that next time. I helped Tommy with some of his fries and his fruit salsa.

Dinner was Savory French Lentils seasoned with garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage and molasses. It was served over fresh spinach and brown rice.  This was a very tasty combination. You can see the steam in the picture.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nice Day

It was a wonderful day outside.  The dogs and I went on a 3 mile walk.  They were really strutting their stuff.  Tommy and I brought them along to have lunch out side at Panera.  He ordered soup and sandwich, I brought my lunch.  It was leftover Chickpea Salad with mixed greens and some peasant bread.  Breakfast was a variation on the classic fruit and oatmeal.  I made a Fig Oatmeal with Mint.  It was just a hint of mint, I don't think that the flavor meshed well with the earthiness of the figs and steel cut oats.

We had two dishes with dinner.  Tempeh Sloppy Joes on a carrot role and Pasta and Bean Salad with tomatoes and basil.  These were great dishes.  Onions, peppers and tempeh simmered in a tomato sauce flavored with cider vinegar, mustard and garlic powder.  The pasta salad included cannelloni beans, onions, tomatoes, basil, and scallions in a balsamic vinaigrette.

I snacked during the day on pistachios and a slice of bread with peanut butter. I also froze some Miso Soup and Wild Rice Soup so that I would have something if couldn't cook for a day.


My meals for the day were all leftovers.  I had cereal with strawberries and cashews and vanilla rice milk for breakfast.  I was finally able to take a picture that was not blurry. The cereal was called Wheat Waffles, which is the Whole Foods version of Wheat Chex. I needed a fast breakfast because I needed to be at the dealership at 8:00 in Timonium to have the new gas pedal assembly installed.  When they open the parts box, parts were missing.  So we will try again on Wednesday.  Uggh.

Lunch and dinner involved leftovers of the Cauliflower and Potato Curry, Jamaican Stir Fry, and Tofu Curry.
I went to Whole Foods to buy the groceries for the next 2 weeks.  The bill was at 237.00 which is more than I have been spending.  I was out of a lot of staples like yeast, maple syrup, soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, and hoison sauce.  Hopefully the next trip will be cheaper.  The picture is 2 weeks of groceries, not including staples I have on hand like rice, raisins, vinegars, and nut milk. The Center for Science in the Public Interest estimates that a healthy diet can be achieved at $2.50 a day per  adult. We are at $8.50 a day.  Whole Foods organics add to the cost and dried beans would also lower the bill, but that still seems a little low to me.  Yet I am staying away from the foods subsidized by the government for Big Ag.

To get ready for next week, I have roasted garlic and red bell peppers like I have done each grocery day.  There is nothing like having fresh roasted garlic on hand to smish into whole grain bread with some olive oil.  That is the best dessert ever.  I also made some chickpea veggie burgers.  My goal is to eliminate as many premade foods as possible.  The burgers are ready to be grilled later.  I also made some Carrot Rolls. These are yeast rolls the size of hamburger buns.  They are made with white flour, pureed carrots and bourbon.  The bourbon adds a nice kick to the buns.  Oh yes, we taste tested those buns.  I did cheat a little.  The buns called for butter.  The vegan standard is Earth Balance which I have used in the past.  It acts exactly like butter in recipes.  However, I still have 5 sticks of butter from the Christmas holiday cooking.  I used 6 tablespoons of real butter.  My frugal nature that says 'don't waste anything' took over.  Considering how much butter I still have, it will last a while. When I use it all, Earth Balance will take over.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

More leftovers

Although I am clearing out the fridge before grocery shopping tomorrow, I did make a fresh breakfast. I did a variation of an Indian  dish called Sheera.  I used farina (cream of wheat), apples and raisins cooked in almond milk.  It makes a very thick  porridge and is very filling.

Lunch was all about the leftovers.  We finished yesterdays pasta and I had some beets with the sesame dressing for flavor.  Dinner was Collards with Almonds, Carrot Halwa, and Cauliflower and Potato Curry over brown rice.  All were repeats so I did not take a picture.  We had a very nice alborino to pair with the meal.

I am really happy about the way most foods are being used between grocery trips every 2 weeks.  I have not had to throw anything out because it went bad.  But I think I need to freeze a few leftovers in case I have one of those super busy days that will not allow for me to cook.  I don't have my old go to of a grilled cheese                                           sandwich anymore and I am trying to eliminate commercially prepared food.  I am even making my own veggie burgers next week to go with my homemade bread. I just do not want to get caught with a nothing to eat night.

Emptying the fridge

So the next few days are going to about using the leftovers  in the fridge. Breakfast was a fruit salad using an apple and my last banana with the fruit compote I made last week from strawberries and peaches.  I  added a piece of peasant bread with apple butter.

Lunch was a pasta dish of the remainder of a box of spaghetti with toppings of onion, grape tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, chickpeas and garlic.  A sauce was made with tomato paste, water, red wine, and spices. Again most of this emptied out the fridge, although I had leftover pasta.  I can see the steam from the pasta in the picture.

Dinner was some of the leftover Sweet Potato Lentil Chili with a fresh batch of Kale and Chard Chips.  In the evening when we had the munchies we paired some Elijah Craig 20 year old bourbon with some peasant bread spread with orange infused olive oil and roasted garlic and toasted in the oven.  It was so good, we had seconds.  Neither Tommy nor I felt the least  bit deprived tonight.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Can't think of a title

Today is a slow Friday.  We finally got a couple of inches of snow that the dogs loved.  River runs and jumps and sprints in it.  But she got to see the other side of snow, frozen paw pads on our last walk of the night.  I had to carry her for a block while rubbing her paw pad to melt the ice.  Today's food choices were mainly repeats.  Breakfast was cereal with a banana and almond milk.  I needed something quick before going to the gym.  For lunch I made a Amy's Veggie Burger.  I spread one piece of peasant bread with plum sauce and the other with minced sundried tomato.  The toppings were caramelized onions, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, carrot, and roasted red pepper.

Dinner was mainly leftovers.  I had the take home from the Prime Rib of sweet potato, artichokes and asparagus, plus the Collards with Almonds.  My fresh dish was a Carrot Halwa with a cashew paste, raisins and almonds.

We split a nice bottle of Cava with the meal.  Many ethical vegans are weary of beer and wine because the fining agents can be gelatin, isinglass (fish bladder), bone marrow or casein. Since I am making this change for potential health reasons, I am not worried about that.  I find it doubtful that any IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor) makes it into the final product. However, if you want to which alcohols are truly vegan check out .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Snow Day

Well, it wasn't really that much snow.  It was enough to make the dogs go a little crazy and jump around and play.  I wish I could tape it because they are so cute in the snow.  If we actually get several inches on Friday, they will love it.

Breakfast was the last of my Apricot Oatmeal and I made some Gingered Cantaloupe.  The melon was mixed with some powered ginger and crystallized ginger with a little honey to cut the spiciness.

Lunch was a clean out the fridge salad.  The last of my salad greens with some beets, broccoli, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, chickpeas, carrot, croutons made from the peasant bread and dressed with the ginger sesame vinaigrette.

For dinner we  finished off the Cuban Black Bean Soup and I made some Collard and Chard Chips.  I have used chard for chips quite a few times, but this was the first time for collard greens.  They did not crisp well.  While still crunchy, they were bitter with an unpleasant taste.  You could tell the difference between the collards and the chard even though they looked the same.  Going forward, collards will not be crisped.

While embarking on this vegan transition, I have not had this burst of energy that some claim to get from the lifestyle.  Maybe this is because I did not eat at fast food establishments or make processed foods a normal part of my diet before hand.   For me, the change was not that drastic.  Just cut out meat, cheese and eggs.  Other that cheese, dairy was already out because of my lactose intolerance and cheese was beginning to bother me.

I feel that I have done well in keeping my nutritional needs in check.  I take B12 because I have pernicious anemia.  I could eat a 100% meat diet and not get the vitamin because of my stomach's inability to digest the vitamin.  I use a sublingal B12 that is absorbed under the tongue in the same way nitroglycerin pills are for heart patients.  I also take a calcium supplement, though I don't know if that is necessary because kale and collards are full of calcium.   Protein only needs to be 10% of your daily caloric intake and I have been between 12 - 18%.  This study  talks about the protein needs and that the 35% most people get is way too much.  Otherwise, a varied diet provides all the vitamins and minerals that you need.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Car Repair

I had to get up early this morning so that I could get some work done on the car in the Timonium area.  Last time I was there, I had an appointment that lasted through lunch and I ended up raiding the snack machine for lunch.  It was neither healthy or tasty.  This time I had a 8:00 am slot which gave me time to walk and feed the dogs then eat breakfast before the trip north.  I just did a quick microwave of some of the leftover Apricot Oatmeal.  As for the car, the gas pedal assembly needs to be replaced.  The parts were ordered and I will be doing this again on Monday.

For lunch I did a repeat of the Tempeh Sandwich from last week.  At dinner I did a Jamaican Stir Fry in the hopes to trick myself into thinking the weather isn't so cold.  Didn't work.  It is still 18 degrees.  The stir fry was made with onion, red bell pepper, plantain, garlic, ginger, serrano pepper and curry over brown rice.

One that I am doing too much of snacking during the day.  I had a apple with peanut butter, bread with sundried tomato and pasta  during the day.  I need to cut down and stick with just an apple.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Comfort food

Today was a very cold day.  I took the dogs for a walk when the wind chill was 5 degrees.  It was so cold Jack crawled under a blanket on the couch. Cold days are great for comfort food, which is what I did for breakfast and dinner.

Breakfast was a Huevous Ranchero using tofu for the eggs.  It was served on a tostado with my salsa.  On the side were Garlic Kale Hash browns made from what the name implies, garlic, kale and potatoes.

For lunch I made a Chickpea Salad from chickpeas, red bell pepper, celery, apple, capers and parsley with a tahini based dressing.  I had a piece of my peasant bread on the side.

One of the best ways to keep the house warm without turning up the heat is to have something simmering on the stove for several hours.  I made 3 quarts of vegetable stock from veggie pieces that I keep in the freezer.  Whenever I am prepping vegetables, the ends or stalks or other pieces that we don't eat are stored in a plastic bag.  When I need stock, I empty the bag into a 5 qt. pan, add water, and simmer for several hours.  I strain the liquid into a large pitcher and have enough stock for a couple of weeks of soup and rice.  I also made a large batch of Sweet Potato Lentil Chili with onions, sunchokes, garlic, crushed tomatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils and black beans.  I roasted some tortillas sprinkled with garlic and onion powder as an accent.

What was nice about the meals was that I didn't miss meat or eggs at all.  Everything was warm, tasty and filling.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lots of dining out

We ate out Friday through Sunday for dinner.  That is a lot more often than normal for us. It also meant I was not making as many new meals.  Friday started with cereal, banana and almond milk for breakfast.  For lunch I had some leftover Penne al Forno.  For dinner we went to Fleet Street Kitchen for the first time.  The restaurant specializes in creating meals from local sources.  This was a great place for me.  One of the chefs is vegan and made a special dish for me.  Browned shiitakes and enoki mushrooms were served over a saute of kale, peppers, pine nuts and baby turnips.  For dessert I had the pomegranate sorbet.  We had a Chablis with dinner.  Afterwards, the sommelier gave us a tour of the wine cellar.

On Saturday I had a Mango Smoothie before Spin class.  There were no blueberries in the smoothie, so it was not purple.  It was made with mango, vanilla rice milk, lime juice, and a touch of maple syrup.

Lunch was a Creamy Tofu Palak 'Paneer'.  Tofu was marinated in a ginger lime sauce then added to palak and served with spinach.  I made some Herb Roti in the oven on the hot stone.

A friend had a birthday dinner at The Prime Rib that evening.  That was a bit of a challenge.  Every entree and appetizer are meat.  Thankfully, they have a lot of side dishes.  I made a veggie plate of grilled asparagus, baked sweet potato, and grilled artichokes.  I added a salad dressing of white balsamic vinaigrette for some flavor variety.  The waiter gave me a strange look when I said no butter or sauces on the veggies and didn't understand why I wanted the vinaigrette without the salad.  I split some Raspberry Sorbet with Tommy.

Sunday morning I made a Vanilla French Toast for breakfast with some fresh strawberries on the side.  The toast was cooked in a skillet with some spray cooking oil.  It never gained that crispy outside that you get when it is cooked in butter.  It was more of a soggy toast.  Lunch was leftover Pasta al Forno and Herb Roti

The Ravens were playing at night so we went to Shiso Tavern on the square.  They have a great menu for me.  I started with a Tofu Capresse Salad.  It was made of tomatoes, basil, and tofu replaced the traditional mozzarella..  The main course was a Vegetable Stir Fry with rice.  It was too large to finish.  Most importantly, The Ravens are going to the Super Bowl.

This morning, I reheated some leftover Apricot Oatmeal.  At lunch I had a Beet Orange Salad with a Ginger Honey Vinaigrette and piece of pita bread.

Dinner was Aloo Gobi or Cauliflower and Potato Curry with Brown Bismati Rice.  The rice was cooked with smoked cardamon pods, a cinnamon stick, and cloves.  Excellent dish that paired with the Herb Roti.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Southern Roots

Breakfast was a simple fare of a fruit salad made with banana, strawberries, grapes, and mango.  I toasted some of my peasant bread and spread apple butter on it.

I am picky about veggie burgers. The soy burgers meant to taste like real hamburgers are unappetizing.  I like the Morningstar black bean burger, but Whole Foods does not carry it. I tried Amy's brand made from bulgar wheat and it made a good lunch.  I placed it between 2 slices of  the peasant bread spread with the garlic parsley hummus and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, alfalfa sprouts, salsa and unsweetened ketchup.

One of my dishes at dinner was Collards with Almonds.  Collard greens are a traditional southern dish, but I never had it growing up.  The only thing green in our kitchen was iceberg lettuce and canned green beans.  Southern fare as a whole is not vegan friendly, but greens are very popular - mustard greens, dandelion greens, spinach, turnip greens, and collards were found in many homes.  I had made all of theses except the collards before.  These were very tasty.  I steamed them and dressed with a little salt and rice vinegar and added some toasted almonds and minced garlic.

The main course was a Pasta al Forno. Brown rice penne was topped with a freshly made tomato sauce and sauteed  onion,  carrots and zucchini.  I added a can of cannelloni beans, some garlic stuffed olives, tomatoes, and basil and then roasted in the oven.

I think if I made these for dinner in most southern homes, there would still be a 'where's the meat to go with this' moment.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Started the day with the basic cereal, strawberries and almond milk.  I am using the whole foods brand frosted flakes for cereal.  Their frosted flakes has less sugar than Kellogs corn flakes.  Lunch time was a big salad.  I used romaine lettuce at the base and added, roasted red peppers, croutons, tomato, asparagus, broccoli, black beans, onion, sun chokes and mushrooms.

Dinner was pita pizza. I spread a quarter cup of the garlic hummus I made on Monday over a pita and topped with olives, roasted red pepper, mushrooms, tomato and sun dried tomato.  I had a side salad of mixed greens with grapes, tomato, and chickpeas with a freshly made Soy Sesame Vinaigrette.

Snacks for the day were raisins, orange, and some bread.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Baking day

Today I am starting week 2 of the Kickstart Program. Technically it is the 15th day of the program, but I am behind because we have eaten out some and made use of the leftovers.  It does mean eating at home until the weekend and that means more nutrition and variety in my meals.  Since veganism is not vegetarianism, eating out is a little bit of a challenge.  It generally means asking for a dish without something.

Breakfast is the Apricot Oatmeal that I made yesterday.

For lunch I had a Smoked Tempeh, Alfalfa Sprout and Tomato Sandwich on whole wheat bread with carrots. I broiled the tempeh to give it the same texture as crispy bacon. The sandwich is similar to the powerhouse sandwiches at some restaurants.   It was a little bit of a cheat. Instead of buying a vegan mayonnaise, i used a jarred pesto sauce.  Pesto traditionally has some Parmesan cheese in it.  Later I will make some without the cheese.

Dinner was excellent.  A Cuban Black Bean Soup with Potatoes and a Spinach Salad made with some leftover orange fennel salad are the evening's fare. Tommy paired a very nice Pinot Noir with it.

We ended the meal with some bread.  I made a very large batch of Peasant Bread with herbs. The 2 loaves, 3 baguettes, and oval should last a month.  The extra is being frozen until needed.  The only thing I did different from previous breads was skip the eggwash on top, so the top is not as brown.  Otherwise, this is old school rustic bread.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Grocery Day

Breakfast was an easy one. I made a fruit compote that was served over regular oatmeal.

The weather was a little bit warmer today (we were promised 60 degrees but that did not happen) so we had lunch at Panera outside with the dogs. I had the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich minus the feta cheese with a side of potato chips.

Dinner was all leftovers, the Portabella Tacos for Tommy and the Couscous with peas and carrot for me.
Today was grocery day for the 2nd week on the Kickstart Program.  Most of the recipes are 4-6 servings, so we take 2 weeks to go through 1 week of food.  I also use this day  as prep for the coming week.  I made the sponge starter for some peasant bread that I will finished up tomorrow. Next up  was a Garlic Parsley Hummus.  Then I roasted some  red peppers and a bulb of garlic.  Finally, I made the Apricot Oatmeal for the week.  I am using the steel cut oats that take 40 minutes to cook.  It is much easier to prepared it ahead of time, then microwave it at breakfast.

One of the nice things about changing to a vegan diet is the cost of groceries.  Previously I spent about $250 every two weeks at Whole Foods when we are not in CSA season.  Now, I am spending about $210 for the same time period.  $80 is a nice monthly savings.