And I’ll eat them : )
I’ve always loved the deepest dark; dark rooms, houses, and especially unfathomably dark skies that blot out confirmations of daily banality like cars and yards and driveways. It appeals to me like most instincts do—naturally, and although I’m sure there’s a more prosaic reason, I often feel that it’s because it indulges my tendency toward silence and introspection. At night, life relaxes into routined calm, and the parts that aren’t calm are hidden in the surrounding inky depths, making for easy ignorance. There are no distractions when your eyes can’t focus on shapes or colors. All that’s left is what you imagine there to be.
This morning was full of bulbous, moody clouds and it was still dark when I got to work. I was standing there thinking about how lovely the embrace of rain and dark gray is when my co-worker switched on all the lights. The artificial bulbs felt like an affront on some need for a natural progression toward light that the sky hadn’t given clearance for yet. An extra few hours of misplaced night is always welcomed, and I just wonder if people would be more content, or feel more balanced, if they were allowed to wake up when the sun wanted them to.
Waking up early has its own appeal, and I don’t doubt that having enthusiasm for a new day has it’s benefits. Morning is a good time to search for something nestled in yourself that needs finding again, but perhaps its a kind of introspection with a drop more enthusiasm built in. The morning bird clearly finds comfort in preparation—searching for that opportunistic worm, while most night owls prefer dwelling on the catch. In the end they both fly, but for now, all my devotion goes to my dark love, night.
I read a quote in “Mother Earth News” tonight, and not an hour later it proved true—applicability is a trait this magazine does well in my life.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks” -John Muir
Tonight I was given the dreaded donkey-feeding task. Whenever my parents dole out this particular responsibility, eyes will inevitably roll. So I rolled mine, a necessary start to the job, put a coat on, and walked to the barn. Our jack, Merlin, has the personality of an over-sized, persnickety dog, and of course, he just wouldn’t be pushed out of the barn without a treat first, the treat being an animal cracker—a cruel, but funny donkey dessert.
When I was finished, the night felt so refreshing that my legs carried me not back to the house, but away. Two of our dogs followed, always eager for an adventure, and I felt my tail was wagging with theirs. Enthusiasm is contagious—even when the source runs on four legs. We ended up walking through the garden, which appears deceivingly barren in winter, and I couldn’t help but imagine the life under my feet. Although it was completely quiet outside, I could sense its energy-not rushed, as life often feels, but slow and steady as a pulse. And it is a pulse isn’t it? Without the dedicated earthworms, the microbes, the rhizomes and the roots, dirt would be dead. But instead it’s a flurry of never ending activity that almost beats like a pulse, preparing the soil for the energy-sucking plants it’ll have to sustain come spring. The constancy of it calmed me and I felt, not energized, but peaceful, when I crossed the threshold of the door, back into the hustle and bustle of my family’s life inside.
John Muir was right. Nature always provides more than we ask of it, and tonight I felt it was the exact prescription for inner quiet.
Dad’s Lab Info:
- Total Cholesterol Before 28 Vegan Days: 209
- Total Cholesterol After 28 Vegan Days: 149
- LDL Before: 138
- LDL After: 87
- HDL Before: 52
- HDL After: 45
- VLDL Before: 19
- VLDL After: 17
- Triglycerides Before: 96
- Triglycerides After: 87
My Lab Info
- Total Cholesterol Before 28 Vegan Days: 190
- Total Cholesterol After 28 Vegan Days: 167
- LDL Before: 78
- LDL After: 63
- HDL Before: 97
- HDL After: 91
- VLDL Before: 16
- VLDL After: 13
- Triglycerides Before: 79
- Triglycerides After: 65
Here’s a quick recap about what all those mean.
LDL=BAD cholesterol. Ideally this would be less than 100. Lower is better.
HDL=GOOD cholesterol. Ideally this would be at least 40. Higher is better-it’s protective against heart disease.
VLDL= very low density lipids- They’re also a bad kind.
Total Cholesterol= HDl+LDL+VLDL
For a other changes from the vegan, FOK diet, read this post 🙂
If I’ve learned something, as I certainly have, by only eating food with dirty roots, it’s the inter-connectedness or the smooth fluidity of the human body. What goes in detonates, like a nutritional bomb, and touches every plasmatic surface, every neglected and un-stretched muscle. It seems it’s true that all we need to know we learned in kindergarten.
With the leg bone connected
to the knee bone,
and the knee bone connected
to the thigh bone,
and the thigh bone connected
to the hip bone…
Whole grains, legumes, fruit, soy, nuts, berries, water and vegetables have been the mainstays given the rite of passage into my cleansed gullet these past 28 days (and some less honorable mentions if I’m being honest, like umm, a few Oreo’s), and my whole body feels like it’s been gently nudged awake from a sort of nutritional hibernation.
Going along with the allegory, the first order of business after sleep, is, fittingly, a trip to the toilet. Sure enough, the first transformation was in my gut. See: Grocery experience. This is the one “health benefit” of veganism I’m not sure I liked. Before this experiment I was already *ahem* using the restroom twice a day because I ate a lot of fiber. It was comfortable. But this past month? Let’s not even go there…it’s been a little excessive.
Next, waking up. Maybe for most people this comes first, but for me, open eyes does not equal “awake”. I’m not going to say there hasn’t been a single moment when a yawn has slipped out of my mouth mid-day, but generally I’ve had an abundance of energy-and if I have gotten tired, it’s because I work in a library.
Third, grooming. My skin has hardly required washing, and this is coming from a girl with acne. Not a cute little comically placed pimple at the tip of my nose every once and awhile kind of acne, the real deal. Again, I’ve still had to manage my acne, but my skin has become unbelievably dry. I tried using my acne medicine last night, but when I woke up this morning my skin was peeling. It’s been made obsolete!
It seems like so many things (and so many other smaller things I don’t have space to mention, like the fact that my eyelashes look like Brooke Shields’ in those Latisse commercials, or that my mouth doesn’t taste bad in the morning) are clearly affected by nutrition. I knew this before, but to see such dramatic changes, like with my skin, happen in 28 days, is pretty remarkable.
I’ll post my and my dad’s test results tomorrow for scientific proof, but for now, I’ll just sign off and leave you with the skeleton song stuck in your head. It’s a good one to remember whether you’re eating a salad or, perhaps, a delicious, creamy Oreo. What you allow yourself to eat will have an impact on your whole self. Whether or not I remain vegan, this is something I’ll never forget.
The past 26 days have seen little in the way of restaurant food. I can count on one hand…actually…one finger, the number of times I’ve eaten out. The sole occasion was that disastrous vegan sub at Subway, and that must have ruined the experience as a whole. But yesterday I had the treat of meeting a friend at the trendy, elegant-cafeteria style restaurant “Green Dog Cafe” here in Cincinnati.
The words “elegant” and “cafeteria” put together may seem like a paradox, but it was actually quite lovely. It was so nice to step into an establishment with just as many options for vegans/vegetarians/gluten-free people as not. As I ordered the “Green Chow Chow Curry-vegan style” I caught myself expecting some kind of smirk, or “oh, she’s one of those…” looks, but no such look was cast my way! It was great.
Their description for the green chow chow curry is as follows: “sauteed spinach and mushrooms, green curry, coconut milk, cilantro served over brown rice with socca”. It was delish, and there was so much of it!! Two meals at least. My friend got their fries for us to share, and I’m so glad she did! They were perfect. I couldn’t try the mayonnaise based dip, (unfortunate because she was practically drooling over it), but I did have the pleasure of dipping in the apple one, which tasted like
apple butter to me. I also indulged in some Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet (Jenni’s Ice Cream) which was light and refreshing. The perfect finish to such a filling meal, even if 5 dollars is a little pricey for a few scoops of sorbet.
Then today, I went to Chipotle with my family and got a burrito sans meat, cheese and sour cream. It hit the spot! Why didn’t I go here earlier?
For dinner tonight, I had a vegan version of what you might find at a 50’s style diner. A burger, a side, and a chocolate shake. The burger was “Amy’s” brand. Very tasty and only requires a quick zap in the microwave. Can’t beat that. But the other two parts were my own creation-I’m proud of these!
“Buttery” Garlic Brussels Sprouts
- Heat up 1 tsp vegan butter substitute (I use Earth Balance) and 1 tsp grapeseed oil on medium-high heat
- Slice the brussels sprouts in half. Do not cut the tough end off at the end or else the leaves will all fall off.
- Place the sliced brussels sprouts, cut side down, in the oil and butter.
- Chop up about 2 tbsp onion and add to pan.
- Add 1 tsp chopped garlic, or two cloves chopped to the pan.
- Once the onion starts to brown, add a tablespoon of soy sauce (maybe slightly more?) and let some of the liquid cook out.
- Toss everything together and munch!
- Put all ingredients listed in a blender: 2 frozen and chopped bananas, 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tbsp agave syrup, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup soy milk.
- Blend and enjoy 🙂
- P.S. Total guesstimation on the amount of soy and almond milk. Basically add enough until you like the consistency. If you have a better blender than my family has, I would recommend only adding half a cup liquid and you’ll achieve an ice cream like consistency. This was phenomenal, I must say.
- If you make half the shake recipe, add a handful of spinach that you surely will not taste, and 1/4 cup cooked oatmeal, and you have a healthy chocolate shake breakfast!
- For the protein fiend/peanut butter addict, substitute the 2 tbsp agave for 1 tbsp peanut butter and add some truvia.
- Vegan butter substitutes have MORE calories than butter does. True fact. The difference is that they have no hydrogenated oils, trans-fats or saturated fats. They also have omega-3 fatty acids and obviously are casein free. Woot! Still, if you’re trying to lose weight, just remember that they are still high in calories and should be treated as a bit of an indulgence.
As I was making dinner, I found this fatty waiting for his own meal on our kitchen table. This was the look I got when I told him “I love you, Chester!” Can you tell how much he loves me too? Total disdain. He still got plenty to eat of course. My cat’s more spoiled than a rotten egg.
Anyway, I was absolutely famished after work. I wanted something quick and easy and I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for at least three days now. I nearly cried when I realized I didn’t have any cooked brown rice and the damn stuff takes at least 30 minutes. It was worth the wait.
Once I had the rice made, these were a cinch to pull together. Super easy and really delicious. Next time instead of using a potato masher though, I’ll make sure to use my food processor to really blend all the ingredients well, and I’ll also double (at least) the recipe. This time I put one “meat patty” on two slices of bread, but because they’re not heavy and caloric like meat, I’ll use two patties the next time on a bun for more of a “burger” effect.
I’m calling them Glimpse Burgers because they’re from my mom’s yoga instructor’s website, called “Glimpse Yoga”. You can visit her website here for a comprehensive and inspirational introduction to yoga, plus some fantastic recipes (including the burgers here, called “Northstar Cafe Burger” on her site). Bon appetite!
I will send my gratitude
for her chickpea cakes
Did you like that? A little literary/culinary juxtaposition there. I hope her last name is pronounced in three syllables like I’ve been assuming…
I have on my desk a plethora of vegan cookbooks. One of them is Kim Barnouin’s “Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook” from which the “Curried Chickpea Cakes” at left came from. Add some “Raspberry-Mango Salsa” on top from “The Imus Ranch: Cooking for Kids and Cowboys” and you’ve got a tummy-rubbing good meal, and so pretty to boot! I made three each for myself, my dad, and my brother, and everyone loved them. I’ll put the recipes below…I hope that’s not some illegal copyright thing…I mean I told you who came up with them, right?
While we’re talking about cookbooks, I should also mention “The Vegan Table” by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Last night I made her “Chocolate Cake With Coffee Ganache”. It was fantastic! I had like three pieces this morning with my tea. I might make the ganache a little differently next time, but overall I was so impressed with this recipe. You know it’s good when I forget to take a picture before digging in. The one adjustment I made was replacing the 1/3 cup canola oil for 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce. This saves a whopping 596 calories, most all of which are fat, and I swear to all that’s holy, you cannot tell one bit of difference in the taste. I also only used half a cup preserves for the glaze instead of a cup. (That was an accident because we only had half a cup, but hey! It worked!)
Who says vegan food is boring?
Curried Chickpea Cakes
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup sliced green onions, both white and light green parts
- 1/3 cup light coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons evaporated cane sugar (*tms foodie* substitution: 1 teaspoon agave syrup)
- 2/3 cup breadcrumbs, plus 1/4 cup for coating (*tms foodie* substitution: I didn’t use the extra 1/4 cup, and I use Panko crumbs)
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2/3 cup COOKED brown rice (this means you’ll only need 1/3 cup dry)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or toasted sesame oil, for pan searing
In a large food processor, combine the chickpeas and green onions. Pulse until combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut milk, sugar, 2/3 cup of the breadcrumbs, curry powder, nutmeg, and cumin. Stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined. Stir in the brown rice and the salt. Mold into 10 mini patties.
In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat (*I did not add all the oil at once. I used about a teaspoon at a time and added more as needed*). Add the chickpea cakes to the pan in batches and saute until there’s a nice golden sear on the bottom. Flip and sear the other side as well. Continue with the remaining cakes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
- 2 cups pureed fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 cup minced green onion
- 1 cup seeded and chopped fresh plum
- tomatoes (*we omitted this because we used tomato chunks instead of pureed)
- 1/2 cup whole fresh raspberries
- 1/2 cup diced mango (*we added an entire mango*)
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (*I used 3/4 cup raw sugar*)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup nondairy milk (soy, rice, almond, hazelnut, hemp, or oat-I used almond milk)
- 1/2 cup black coffee of your choice
- 1/3 cup canola oil (I used 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce)
- 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup apricot preserves or jam (I used half a cup cherry preserves for a black forest cake effect)
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tbsp black coffee
- 2 tbsp nondairy, non-hydrogenated butter (such as earth balance) (*this is where I would change things a little-even earth balance is rich in oils and fats, although they’re non-hydrogenated and casein free which is good. I’d like to try adding a little fruit pectin for shine, instead*)
This past weekend I visited my grandparents in Indiana.
I walked in the door and my nose was greeted with the lovely aroma of sloppy joes and corn bread muffins, ripe for the taking. Knowing that I couldn’t indulge in the sloppy j’s I ran over to the corn bread muffin box, hoping against hope that maybe it was vegan. I mean it has corn in the title, right? Of course, it had “animal lard” in it…a big no-no. Shouldn’t CORN BREAD be vegan?? Sheesh. I’m really starting to sympathize with these people.
Somehow, I ended up with the meal shown here. Cereal and wine…womp womp. Not exactly a beacon of health.
Later, I did end up making the soup at the right. It’s a butternut squash, sweet apple soup. I’ll post the tentative recipe at the bottom. It was delish! Totally heart healthy and comforting for a cold winter day.
If you’re traveling and you like to keep animals in your home, not your belly, be prepared. Take some fruit and some basics, like bread, peanut butter and jelly (I did have the foresight to bring these at least), and prepare yourself for some mental turmoil as the rest of your family digs in to a myriad of food you can’t eat. Sad face.
Butternut Apple Soup
- 1 butternut squash
- 2 honeycrisp (or other sweet) apples
- apple cider
- vegetable broth
- almond milk
- salt, pepper, olive oil
Split the butternut squash in half and rub the flesh (ha…) with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a very hot oven until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.
Cut the apples up and toss with a very minimal amount of olive oil and some cinnamon. Roast until tender. You can put these in at the same time as the squash. Just remember that the apple will be done well before the squash is.
Saute onion and garlic in a soup pot. Once the onion is transparent, add the scooped out squash and the apple chunks. Pour in about 2 and a half cups apple cider and 2 and a half cups vegetable broth. Use an immersion blender, or a regular blender/food processor, to mix it all together. Let it simmer over the stove and taste. If it needs salt and pepper, add some. At the end I added some almond milk for creaminess, but had there been plain soy milk I would’ve used that instead. It’s thicker and has a better “creamy” consistency.