Tag Archives: cooking

kitchen successes & failures

I found myself with a strange craving for eggs the other day. I found this exceptionally bizarre because I really don’t find myself craving anything from my “pregan” days–not even cheese (though you’ll see below that I do tend to use daiya liberally nonetheless).

Not only did I want eggs, I wanted an omelette. A quick google search landed me on a potential recipe–basically, tofu scramble using silken tofu rather than extra firm–but it warned about the trickiness of flipping the “omelette” and keeping it all in tact. Silly me, I tried anyway. Here is the succession of my failure. I aptly refer to this as the tofu omelette mess:

Luckily, I don’t have too many kitchen catastrophes. I replaced tofu with seitan in my simple stir fry recipe and the results were sensational:

I’m a busy vegan lady and I don’t always have time to prepare everything from scratch. Luckily,it’s gardein and daiya to the rescue! Behold, “chicken” tender lettuce wraps with slices of daiya havarti (my number one most favoritest cheese substitute thus far):

So, that’s what I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks. How about you?

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spicy spaghetti

Some things are meant to be simple. Like Friday night dinners.

Thin spaghetti tossed with canned tomato sauce, crumbled “Italian sausage” seitan, and plenty of garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, and black pepper.

Simple is a relative term…if only I can learn to heat pasta sauce without the tomato bubbles spitting fury all over my stove.

To make up for the absence of a real post, please enjoy one of my kitties really enjoying putting-away-groceries time. What a helper!

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coconut rice stir fry, aka YUM!

Thanks to the adventures of the lovely Vegan Charlie, I was recently reminded of how delicious coconut rice is. My last foray with coconut rice got a little off track–I went a little nuts with the cayenne pepper and the dish was almost too spicy to consume (almost being the operative word here). I decided to use Vegan Charlie’s recipe idea as a launching pad and I concocted something similar, but a tad bit different. And it was delicious! Here’s what I came up with, mostly credited to Vegan Charlie, of course!

Coconut Rice Stir Fry
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 can Thai Kitchen Lite Coconut Milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp+ red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
1 container baby corn, halved
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp teryaki sauce
3 tbsp House of Tsang spicy szechuan stir fry sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Bring coconut milk, rice, and spices to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 12 minutes, or until rice is tender and much of the coconut milk has been absorbed. In the meantime, heat oil in a frying pan and begin browning the onions. A few minutes into cooking the onions, add mushrooms. Onions and mushrooms take the longest so they need more time than the broccoli and baby corn. When the mushrooms and onion are nearly done, add the remaining veggies. Stir fry for a few minutes until veggies are at your desired consistency. Add combined sauces and continue to stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

I have been on such a mushroom kick lately–this coming from someone who used to order omelettes and pizzas sans mushrooms!

Simple! And delicious. The combination of sauces is simultaneously sweet, salty, and spicy. A wonderful combination of tastes that uniquely complements the flavor of the coconut rice. I can’t even describe this flavor combination to you. It’s strangely satisfying! Try it, already!

This recipe yields about 3.5 servings, each serving coming out to less than 400 calories. How’s that for a home run?

Happy stirfrying!

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mean green spaghetti machine

Remember when I vowed to jump back in to my healthy routine? Well, I had some loose ends to tie up. This one fell into my lap far before I could really hit the ground running to meet my new resolution…so I figured I’d get ‘er out of the way lest the cravings and curiosity ruin me at a later date.

If you’re anything like me, you’re reading the title of this post and thinking, huh? Green spaghetti? Yes, my friends: green spaghetti. Or, espaguiti verde, if you want to be technical. This is apparently a popular northern Mexico/southwestern US dish (if the interwebz can be trusted at all) that I’ve never heard of. It became the subject of discussion at work at the ripe old hour of 9 am. Yes, 9 am and I was already planning on coming home, whipping this dish up, and savoring its deliciousness. That’s quite early for craving pasta, and it made for a slow, arduous day before it could become a reality.

What’s funny is that I’ve been meaning to veganize the seasoning pouch that goes in my childhood spaghetti marinara and I keep thinking eh, I’ll get to it eventually… But, at the mere mention of spaghetti with a poblano sauce, and I’m sprinting to my nearest grocer to pick up some damn poblanos!

I drew inspiration from this recipe and this one to create a mock vegan version. Behold…

Mean Green Vegan Spaghetti
Yields 3-4 servings

2 poblano peppers
1 cup + 1-2 tbsp Tofutti sour cream
2 tbsp vegetable broth
1 tbsp Earth Balance
1-2+ tbsp plain soy milk (this will make for a runnier sauce)
1/2 white onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tbsp cilantro leaves
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste (I used quite a bit, so if you’re watching your sodium intake, this meal is definitely not for you)
spaghetti (I used about 1/2 of a standard package)

If you take a look at the other recipes, they suggest roasting the poblanos on your gas stove top. Since I don’t trust myself with fire and I don’t exactly have any long enough utensils to spear a poblano pepper, I opted to toss them in the oven (preheated to 450) for about 20-25 minutes. When the peppers start to char and develop a black outer skin, it’s time to take them out. You then toss them in a plastic baggie to steam for 5-10 minutes so they’re very soft. Carefully peel as much of the darkened skin as you can (the peppers will be very hot) and rip or cut into small pieces to make your blender’s job really easy. You should gut the peppers first, but I did add a few of the seeds to the sauce for a little kick.

Into your blender go the peppers, cilantro, sour cream, pepper and salt. Blend until the sauce is creamy. Meanwhile, boil your pasta per package instructions. I opted to brown my chopped onions and garlic in a little bit of oil on the stove top rather than throwing them directly into the blender. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. When the butter is melted, the sauce is blended, and the onions and garlic are browned, add to the small sauce pan and warm on the stove top, stirring occasionally. Add vegetable broth and soy milk until the mixture is as creamy or as runny as you’d like it.

the color will be a light spring green

Drain your pasta, add the sauce, and voila! Green spaghetti! Espaguiti verde!

the final product has just a tinge of green coloring

I’ve heard that some people add green food coloring to this dish and serve it for such holidays as St. Patrick’s Day. I say skip the artificial dyes, because ew.

This dish is mild and creamy and delicious. It could’ve used a little sumfin-sumfin to really make your tastebuds sing, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. If and when I make this again, I’ll experiment with some spices. Perhaps just a touch of cayenne. If you try this dish, please let me know what extra spices and flavors you bring to it!

Mexico meets Italia, what could be better?

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fancy oatmeal

How do I love thee, oatmeal? Let me count the ways.

Oatmeal is a staple in my diet. It’s a great place to hide ground flaxseed to ensure that us non-animal-product-eating peeps get the necessary omega fatty acids. Not only that, oats are pretty cheap (especially when bought in the bulk section of your local grocery store), they’re a great source of fiber (the serving I ate today provided 1/5 of my daily fiber intake–and that wasn’t even counting all the fixins I added to it!), and as such, oatmeal is also quite filling. Most importantly, the serving options are endless! You can dress it up or dress it down. I love a solid oatmeal with a pinch of brown sugar during the week, but when I’m feeling adventurous and I have a few more calories to spare on the weekend, it’s great to dress it up with whatever I have on hand. Oatmeal has no prejudices: it gladly mingles with granola, nuts, fruit, almond/soy/whatever nondairy milk pleases you most. The opportunities are endless.

I have rekindled my love for oatmeal due to a few rushed mornings this week. I didn’t have anything on hand to bring with me for breakfast so I stopped down at my office cafeteria to pick up some oatmeal. I don’t often visit the office cafeteria because a) the vegan options are limited and b) it’s a $$$$ drain. 95% of the time, I bring my breakfasts and lunches from home. The office cafeteria, funny enough, was the first time I ever tasted steel cut oats (this was a few months ago). Steel cut oats have become my oatmeal variety of choice ever since. My two oatmeal mornings during the week left me really craving what I’m going to fondly refer to as fancy oatmeal this morning. This variation was simply divine.

Fancy Oatmeal

Whatcha need:

1 3/4 cups water
1/3 + 2 tbsp steel cut oats (I have Quaker on hand but once I run out, I plan on experimenting with other brands)
1 banana
1 tsp earth balance
1 tsp virgin coconut oil (you can skip this part, this was really just for fun as I haven’t found a reason to use my coconut oil yet)
1 splash vanilla extract
1/4 cup walnut pieces (or nuts of you’re choosing)
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
a few teaspoons brown sugar
shredded coconut to taste

Get your water boiling on the stove and then add oats. The measurements I provided were straight from the Quaker label–if you’re using a different brand, your measurements may vary. After you add the oats, it’ll take about 25 minutes on the stove top for the oatmeal to cook. Stir occasionally.

In the meantime, slice your banana into small pieces. Toss with a tsp or two of brown sugar. Melt earth balance (and optional, coconut oil) in a frying pan and add bananas. Fry for 3-5 minutes until bananas have caramelized. **as mentioned, I don’t really know if this is an appropriate use of coconut oil, but I have yet to use it in the kitchen and I wanted to experiment. It certainly didn’t hurt matters and it added a little bit of a coconutty taste to the bananas. Plus, it smells like the tropics and that is a fabulous smell in the kitchen of a midwestern apartment-dweller.

When the oatmeal and bananas are done, add the rest of your fixins: flaxseed, brown sugar, shredded coconut, walnuts, vanilla, and finally, bananas. Had I any fresh nondairy milk on hand, I’d have added a splash to the finished product. This is especially nice if you overcook the oatmeal because it adds a little moisture. This oatmeal has a wonderful medley of flavors that can totally stand on its own two feet without the addition of milk, though.

you might want to engage in some light morning stretching before digging in

Enjoy, and reap the rewards of its energy-inducing properties immediately. Happy Saturday!

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philly cheeze “steak”

Do you ever crave comfort food on Mondays? I know I do–which isn’t saying much, because it seems that I crave comfort food always.

I’ve never eaten a philly cheesesteak, so in all likelihood, the recipe below will bear zero resemblance to any philly cheesesteak you’ve ever eaten. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe my instincts were spot on and your bad vegan self can get down with cheesesteak once again! Regardless of how cheesesteak-y this meal truly was, I can tell you one thing: it was delicious.

I told my boyfriend that this recipe came to me in a dream, which is only half a lie: I was daydreaming about food at work and then this pang for something–I wasn’t quite sure what–hit me. Suddenly, A1 steak sauce sounded divine.

But steak sauce! you cry. That’s not vegan! In fact, it is. Though many steak sauces use Worcestershire, which isn’t vegan, this one does not. I’m finding more and more that the seasonings, rubs, and sauces we use to prepare meat–the very tastes I have always associated with meat–are incredibly meat, dairy, and egg-free much of the time.

I first discovered this when I had to try my hand at making a homemade taco seasoning because the storebought seasoning packet contained a milk derivative. I had no idea, before that fateful day, that I could season soy crumbles with anything to make them taste so meat-like. And then the light bulb turned on. Much like we season veggies to taste good, we season meat. Honestly, a decaying slab of dead flesh couldn’t possibly taste good without help. This sounds like a no-brainer, but for years, the tastes of certain spices and sauces were the taste of meat to me. I couldn’t tell you anymore what meat in its unseasoned state tastes like. Taco meat tastes like cumin. Steak tastes like A1, or cracked peppercorn. I’m starting to have some fun in the kitchen with this concept. A1! Not just for steak anymore!

Maybe what I created in the kitchen tonight was more of a simple “steak” sandwich, but I used a heaping amount of cheeze so I’m going with the philly cheesesteak theme.

Philly Cheeze Seitan
serves 2

2 sub rolls
1 package seitan
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
1/4 to 1/2 yellow onion, or onion of your choosing, sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp veg oil for frying
a generous dose of A1 steak sauce
a generous amount of Daiya pepperjack cheeze
approx. 1 tbsp Vegenaise, spread on one side of each sub roll

Preheat oven to 400. Slice sub rolls in half lengthwise and set them aside on a pan. Slice your veggies and warm your oil in a frying pan. Sautee green pepper and onion in oil and garlic for a few minutes. Add crumbled (or sliced) seitan and continue to fry.

Add as much A1 as your heart desires.

When veggies are to your liking and seitan is heated through, scoop onto one side of each sub roll.

Add as much daiya as your digestive tract can handle.  Bake for 5-10 minutes until daiya is melted.

Spread a thin layer of vegenaise on the top portion of each bun, cut in half, and chow down!

Instead of the cheeze + vegenaise combo, you can be more ambitious than I was and turn your daiya into a cheeze sauce. You just need a little bit of earth balance, a little bit of plain soy milk, and a lot of cheeze.

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scramble in the morning, scramble in the evening…

scramble at supper time… when tofu’s in your scramble, you can eat scramble any time!

I’m well aware that tofu scramble is a tried-and-true, and frankly, quite boring meal. Every vegan has their tofu scramble. Ho hum, nothing new here. I know this, yet I am going to write about tofu scramble for at least the second time, because I have recently discovered a product that takes tofu scramble from drab to fab!

I have already written about the fantastic health food store I stumbled upon last weekend, The Fruitful Yield. I had to make my second trip today because I needed a few things–and really, I just wanted to explore again. It’s amazing how I intend on picking up one item and I walk out with a full bag-o’-stuffs. It’s just hard to resist temptation when they have so many items I haven’t found anywhere else. I picked up three (THREE!) packages of the Upton’s Naturals seitan because at $3.09 a pack (I think prices went down?), it’s just impossible to beat. West Soy retails around here for about $7 per pack. I cannot resist a delicious, locally-owned company that puts out a wonderful seitan for over half the price. Just can’t do it!

I also walked out with cultured almond milk yogurt, pepperjack daiya (which I absolutely didn’t need, but it was there…and I’ve never seen it before in the flesh!), and two larabars (also didn’t need…but my boyfriend seemed pretty excited about the find so it was hard to say no). My total was only $20. I think that’s pretty rad. They also have vegan parmesan which I resisted the urge to buy–but good to know that it’s there! I find new things each visit I make.

The second grocery store we went to had more fantastic deals like 4 for $5 mangos, 3 kiwis for $1, discount walnut halves, the list could go on. I’m a very happy vegan today. I also recently stumbled upon a local farmstand that is open on Saturdays starting in May. The only Farmer’s Market I know of is only held on Fridays, which is a major bummer considering it’s a one block walk from me and I never get to check it out because of my work schedule. But finding this farm is really great news. I can’t wait to check out some locally grown organic veggies in just a month!

So let me get back to my point: this Upton’s Naturals chorizo-flavored seitan is what has taken my tofu scramble from drab to fab. I have made two scrambles this week, which shouldn’t be surprising if you’ve been following this blog–I tend to overdo foods I love, and seitan has quickly become one of my favorite meat replacements. I am guilty of frequently eating tofu scramble for dinner and then reheating the leftovers for breakfast (sometimes for a few days, depending on how much I cook at any given time). I’m a big advocate of planned leftovers. It makes the next day so easy! Completely takes the stress out of figuring out your meals for the day.

Without further ado, I call this simple scramble the This Is My Everest Seitan Scramble.

serves 3-4, or more!

1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 package Upton’s Naturals chorizo-style seitan
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 crown broccoli cut into florets
1/4 to 1/2 yellow onion, diced
4-5 squirts Braggs liquid aminos
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp veg oil, for frying
optional: baby spinach leaves or other green leafy veg

You know the tofu scramble drill: warm your oil, fry your veggies and seitan for a few minutes, crumble the tofu, spray your Braggs, add your seasonings, and fry until your veggies are at desired consistency (I like mine slightly crisp) and tofu is heated through and uniformly seasoned. Tada!

pre-tofu. I won’t lie to you, I nearly considered eating as is because the seitan is that good

the turmeric and nooch give it that yellowy egg-like color

If you’re a single person like myself, you’ll have leftovers for the next several breakfasts. If you’re feeding others, this should satisfy a family of four. My boyfriend doesn’t like his veggies as crisp as I like mine, so the good news is this scramble is all mine. 🙂

it’s even carnivore-approved!

I’m thoroughly convinced my cats don’t even know what meat is. Whenever my boyfriend does happen to eat meat here and tries to give the cats a taste, they just sort of look at it and push it around with their paws. However, whenever there’s seitan in the house, they know something’s up! That’s how meat-like this product is. The texture is the best part: if you’ve ever eaten true Wisconsin cheese curds, it’s kinda like that. It almost squeaks when you bite into it. It’s a very appetizing texture. Don’t take it from me, though! Eat some seitan already! Your tummy will thank me.

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c25k update

I’ve been cooking new meals but I have neglected to take any decent photos, so this post will not be about that. But for the record, I made vegan stroganoff this week (very tasty!), and caribbean coconut rice w/ chickpeas and broccoli (this was tasty but I sort of ruined it by adding a touch too much cayenne pepper–my mouth was on fire! I also don’t think I’m a big fan of ginger and this called for a whole tbsp of ground ginger). I used my Upton’s Naturals chorizo seitan for the MOST delicious tofu scramble I’ve cooked to date. I wish I had photos! It was to die for. It was the talk of work when I brought my leftovers for breakfast. I love when my coworkers are intrigued by my meals. They are always telling me how delicious my food looks and smells, and they’re always shocked to find out the ingredients. One of my coworkers even told me I’ve inspired her to include more veggies into her meals. I love that! 🙂

I’m chugging along with the c25k program. I decided to abandon the regimen and go it alone. I finally “graduated” week 5, finally running 20 minutes straight. I’ve really, really slowed my pace, which I’m okay with. Speed and time will come later. Right now, I’m really just trying to bump up my endurance. Being able to run for 20 minutes was a huge accomplishment for me, even if my pace is barely a step above a brisk walk. I’m going to try to add a couple minutes to each run until I get to 30 minutes. Then I’ll start bumping up my speed by a tenth of a MPH until I get back up to my original pace. I will get there. I will not give up. (However, I only ran twice this week and only worked out three times total. My boss let us leave an hour and a half early yesterday and I decided to go home and relax rather than go to the gym…and then I ate way too much food and called it a day.) I’m taking my run outside today for the first time. I’m anticipating crashing and burning. It’s much easier on a treadmill. We’ll see how it goes. I’m lucky I live in the great-freakin’-plains and I won’t be dealing with any inclines. Just flat terrain here in Illinois.

We’re leaving for San Francisco on April 21. For anyone who’s been: what restaurants do you suggest for vegans? I plan on doing some research but I thought I’d mention it here in case anyone has any brilliant suggestions.

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my big fat vegan weekend

I spent the majority of last week feeling angry and confused about why the numbers on my scale haven’t budged. I even, in all my craziness, thought that my apartment’s sloping floors were to blame. I took my scale from my bathroom tile to my bedroom hardwood and tried there. Same number. I jumped on the scale in the gym locker room pre-workout. Same number. All of this is strange to me because my boyfriend says I look like I’ve lost weight. My coworker says the same. Even if I was losing fat and inches and not weight, my clothes would be fitting differently…but they’re not. It’s as if I am living the exact same lifestyle I was before (eating lots of sweets, eating lots of cheese, and not working out at all). It’s frustrating because I’m not. My boyfriend sees the breakfasts and lunches I pack myself for my work day. I eat healthier than anyone he knows, he says. I’m not perfect the rest of the time. I do still eat the occasional sweet, but I refuse to give that up. That would be deprivation. I will not succumb to a lifetime of no chocolate. That isn’t fair to me, my body, or my brain.

The conclusions I’ve drawn are these:

  1. I’m not eating as healthy as I think I am. When I was a freshman in college, I had gained about 15 pounds (what a stereotype). I went to the women’s services clinic to refill my pill prescription and when the doctor asked if I had any questions, I said yes: I keep gaining weight and I don’t know why. I told her I thought it was because of the pill. She had me try a low-dose pill that made no change to my weight but screwed my cycle up completely. When I returned a month later to be put back on the original pill, I sat with her for maybe 10 minutes, nearly in tears, telling her how much I hate my body and how I don’t know what to do. She asked if I was exercising regularly. I said a few times a week–not as much as I could–but I lived in the farthest dorm on campus and I always walked to class, I never took the bus. She said that should be making a difference. Her ultimate suggestion was this: maybe you’re not eating quite as healthy as you think you are. Make a food journal, she said. And once you start tracking your food intake, seek a nutritionist’s advice. I never did make that food journal, I never saw a nutritionist, and I went on to gain another 20 pounds by my senior year. But that idea always stays with me: maybe what I think is healthy isn’t as healthy as I thought. This is where food tracking comes in. This is why Weight Watchers worked for me my senior year of college and I dropped 25 pounds in no time at all. This is why I’m trying to track my calories now on MyFitnessPal. I’ve learned that this is a necessary part in my losing weight, but unlike my senior year in college, the weight isn’t coming off as rapidly. In fact, it isn’t coming off at all. Which brings me to…
  2. The conditions of my first weight loss success are not aligned with my current conditions. When I lost weight on Weight Watchers, I really don’t think of it as a healthy weight loss. It worked, yes, but what I was eating was abominable. Let me paint the picture for you: I was a full-time student and I worked two part-time jobs, one of which being a retail job selling chocolate. I was incredibly busy which resulted in very quickly eating all of my meals, which were mostly processed TV dinners. I can’t think of more than twice that year that I cooked. We ate out a lot, like when my boyfriend would visit, and I heated up more Lean Cuisines than I can even count during the week. Not to mention the fact that I saved all my points for beer. I figured out the point count of the chocolates at work and I knew how many I could have that would be the equivalent point count of dinner. I knew the point count of McDonald’s egg McMuffins and hash browns for those days I was hung over but had to be at work at 9. I was incredibly irresponsible and I subsisted on the absolute worst diet you can imagine…and I lost weight. The reason for this, I can only conclude, was that I was much more active than I thought I was. I exercised sometimes, but not regularly, but the main difference is that: 1) I worked at least 20 hours a week in a retail setting where I spent the entire time standing. Standing burns more calories than sitting. and 2) my other job was on campus, so I was walking to class and/or work every day of the week. The walk to and from class or work was 15 minutes each way. Sometimes I made that trip twice, sometimes three times. I was burning calories just because I was busy, basically. Now my life is that of a sedentary deskjob worker. Now I have to find ways to schedule cardio in order to burn calories, and the calories I’m burning in those workouts aren’t even close to the calories I burned when I lost weight in college–and at that time, I wasn’t even trying.

By the end of my senior year, I had plateaued on Weight Watchers. In April I decided to give up meat and return to the vegetarian diet I had followed since my freshman year of high school until Thanksgiving of my freshman year of college. I vowed to start eating better when I moved home. I thought giving up meat again would give me the push I needed to get past the plateau I’d been at for months. I also gave up Weight Watchers because I felt like a slave to the program. I thought I had learned enough about calories and fats to continue my weight loss on my own. Slowly, without my even realizing it, I started to put the weight back on. I was at about a 10 pound weight gain when I left my first post-grad job, and one of the major perks of my new job (my current job) was free access to the office gym. I thought, this is fantastic! I will never have an excuse again! For about a month, I went to the gym religiously after work. And then work started to stress me out and I returned to my old ways of skipping the gym and comforting myself with food. Now I’m at the weight I started at, the heaviest weight of my life that prompted me to go on Weight Watchers in the first place…+5. This was one of my first and main reasons for adopting a vegan lifestyle. As a vegetarian, I wasn’t all that healthy. I didn’t eat as many fruits and vegetables as I should and I ate a lot (a lot) of cheese. I really thought that cutting all that out would make a huge difference. I thought my body would be startled into submission.

It wasn’t.

And that’s when I decided to start training for this 5k. Now it’s been 6 or 7 weeks and I’ve only lost 3 pounds. I lost those 3 pounds in the first week, which shows me that what I’m doing is not working. I’ve spent a lot of time researching this on the internet. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what I can possibly do to remedy this short of quitting my job and working out 8 hours a day. I have at least 45 pounds to lose to be put back in a healthy BMI range. I know the BMI equation is archaic but I know that I’m 45 pounds away from being at a healthy weight. I would take a 35 pound weight loss. I would accept fighting with those last 10 pounds for the rest of my life. It seems impossible to me, though. I know the answer is adding activity into my day that doesn’t feel like organized cardio. I know I should try to take walks outside on my breaks at work. I know I should try to take walks on weekends or after work. To be honest, when I get home after my workout on weeknights, I am utterly exhausted. The idea of going outside and walking for an hour is absolutely unappealing to me. I want to shower, eat dinner, and relax on the couch. It doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to repair the damage I’ve done to my body.

My cause is further complicated by the fact that my boyfriend also needs to lose weight but we both feed off each other’s addictions. I never watched TV before I met him but he loves TV, so we sit and watch every night and snack. When he’s munching on chips, I get instant jealousy. I want chips. We go grocery shopping together and I pick up my produce, my whole grains, and he sneaks a case of diet coke into the cart or a bag of chips or some cookies. I want to be at a place where I can have a bag of chips in my house and not want to sit on the kitchen floor and eat the entire bag. I want to be able to have junkfood in moderation. Moderation is the spice of life. I know myself well enough to know that if I told myself that I can have absolutely no, ZERO, chips, cookies, sweets, anything–that I will break. I will cave. and I will binge.

We watched Forks Over Knives last month and we both had a renewed interest in trying harder. My renewed interest lasted longer than his. Yesterday, I added a few other documentaries to our Netflix queue to try to get both of us re-interested. Last night, we watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. Such an inspiring story. And now our interest is renewed, yet again. He has to work today so we packed him a healthy breakfast and lunch and called it “Day 1.” We need to do this together. As an omnivore, he doesn’t have many food choices when he’s here. He picks around veggies when I cook and opts for the grains, the meat substitutes, the potatoes. I, on the other hand, find my tastes are changing. I made oatmeal yesterday morning but didn’t have any fresh fruit to put in it. I found myself aching for strawberries and blueberries. The same with dinner: we made seitan with red potatoes and broccoli. There was definitely not enough broccoli to go around. I found myself wanting it so badly–I would have been fine if my plate had been half full of broccoli. I just love fruits and veggies. He doesn’t have that habit ingrained in his eating.

We watched a P90X infomercial Friday night (while drinking beer on the couch, of course) and I realized what that program offers compared to what I’m doing. My workouts are routine. I run on the treadmill or work out on the elliptical and I do the same 3 or 4 weight training exercises. I don’t have variety. The “muscle confusion” Tony Horton talks about is something my body hasn’t experienced. When I do try something new and my muscles are confused, it takes my body over 2 days to adjust from the soreness. I can’t take 2 days off every time I try something new. That’s 2 days wasted. I’m knocking on 24’s door but I feel like my body is 50 years old. Part of this, I have to wonder, might be genetics. I do not come from an active family. I sometimes wonder if my food addiction has genetic bearings. My father comforts himself with food. He has type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases he hasn’t even divulged to me. But he doesn’t make a change. He doesn’t think he has the willpower. I have to wonder if I’m a product of that…whether it be hereditary or environmental, I grew up watching him and I’ve absorbed his habits. I’m trying to combat that but I’m stuck once again. I feel angry every single day while I’m on the way to the gym that I even have to carve time out of my schedule to exercise. I curse myself for not living in a pedestrian-friendly location. I live in the suburbs and here, people don’t walk or bike anywhere unless they can’t afford a car. That is crazy! One of the perks of living in the apartment I do is that I am in walking distance of all of my town’s restaurants, bars, shops, etc. I could go for walks, go window shopping, make a whole morning out of it on the weekend, but I don’t!

In the past few weeks, I’ve tried to make small changes to my diet. I’ve subbed in no-calorie stevia for the 60-calorie tbsp of agave nectar I was putting in my coffee each morning. I’ve been bringing half a grapefruit to work (52 calories) instead of the 250-300 calorie green smoothies I was having for breakfast. At the beginning of the year, I made a non-resolution to drink only on weekends. I had been drinking at least one beer a day on weekdays and much more on weekends. Now I limit that to only Fridays and Saturdays, and usually only drink a beer or two. I have isolated myself from my social circle in order to avoid overeating and excessive drinking. These changes, still, have not made a difference.

In the end, I’m not sure where to go from here. I need change but the changes I need to make feel humungous. They feel out of reach. Maybe I’m making mountains out of mole hills but I’m feeling quite lost. How I could possibly eat 1,400 calories a day and burn 300 of them working out and still not see change is utterly baffling to me. As I age, this will only get harder. I will be fighting this battle for the rest of my life.

Are you fighting this battle? How have you overcome adversity?

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food, guilt, and glory

I’ve been feeling a little guilty about what I’ve been eating lately, and with good reason. My cooking has gotten lazy and sloppy. I haven’t had one of my green smoothie breakfasts in a few weeks. I’ve been forgetting to sprinkle ground flaxseed on my oatmeal. I’m pretty much the worst vegan. I feel especially bad when I see posts like this where the fruit and veggies look so good but I can’t pinpoint why I’ve stopped trying. I had a great time acquainting myself with all sorts of new meals when I first went the vegan route but it seems like now, all I have any interest in eating is vegan cupcakes, fried seitan, and carbs. Whoops.

So in an effort to change all that… I went to the store today and picked up a bunch of fresh produce with great intentions to cook some delicious meals this week. However, the grocery store is out of kale. It seems like every time I have plenty of kale at home, so do they. But then when I show up, kaleless, requiring a bunch of it, it’s all gone. Ugh. Stupid.

Since I haven’t been eating the most balanced meals, I don’t have a whole lot of food to report from the past week…but I will share the few pictures I do have.

I discovered that I have an affinity for the Indonesian Peanut Sautee at Noodles & Co so I tried to recreate it at home. This wasn’t exactly a home run. I used rice noodles, broccoli, green beans, red and green bell peppers, water chestnuts, tofu, bean sprouts, and a bottled peanut satay sauce. The sauce was not great. I am in search of a spicy peanut stir fry sauce I can make it home on the cheap & easy. If you can address this need of mine, lemme know!

On my way home from work the other day, I received email notification that one of the lovely ladies over at Turning VEGANese had posted this and thought, man that sounds good. I skimmed the post at stop lights and decided to make a pitstop at the grocery store to pick up some peppers. I stuffed mine with arborio rice, kidney beans, lightlife protein crumbles seasoned with homemade taco seasoning, and I baked in the peppers for about 30 minutes, topping with some daiya cheddar for the last 5 or so minutes. It was delicious.

The rest of the food this week that goes unpictured was mostly takeout. I hate myself for that. I also made some more buffalo fried seitan on Friday because I like to treat myself on the weekend and that has quickly become one of my favorite meals. I also, against my better judgment, picked up one of these at the grocery store and made it for lunch:

Was this worth the 7.79 I spent on it? Um, hell yeah. I’m ashamed that I succumbed to paying that much money for pizza, but damn it if it wasn’t delicious. I had never had any of the Amy’s Kitchen products and I can now say with certainty that I know what all the fuss is about! I chalked this up to a need for some major comfort food after a very odd and offputting craving for mac & cheese. I used to love cheese and I think I pretty much ate it every day at some capacity while I was a vegetarian. Since adopting a vegan diet, I have had zero cravings for cheese (despite occasionally using daiya and teese…but honestly, I have not once really NEEDED cheese)…until today. I wanted it in the worst way. So I got this Amy’s pizza and it, in all its cheeseless glory, completely satisfied me.

My boyfriend and I went for a nice 30 minute walk this morning as the weather is just gorgeous. Thank god, it dipped down into the 60s this weekend. I was getting really tired of the 80 degree March days. It is just the perfect temperature for open windows. No sweat or misery today, and the sun is shining.

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