Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pure Indulgence

Well I am 1 month Vegan and going strong!!! I am still in love with this way of eating. It really does renew my soul every time I eat, knowing that this is such a kind and peaceful way of nourishing my body. My body also appreciates it....I feel absolutely wonderful! My hair is silky soft, my skin is clear, and my nails have grown out strong and durable (I've never successfully grown out my nails until this). And an important side note ladies- my PMS symptoms, including cramps, are non-existent! No headaches, cramping, moodiness, or back pain. I would say its a miracle, but really it just makes good sense that God never intended women to be in such pain every month, but we cause the symptoms by mistreating ourselves. It is a well-known fact that caffeine, sugar, and processed foods aggravate the PMS symptoms...so why would we do that to ourselves??? Plain and simple, God did not intend us to eat the Standard American Diet.
I am also still enjoying the variety of wholesome food that I am discovering. My tastebuds seemed to have adjusted to the clean way of eating, because I now enjoy and crave plain spinach salads with no oil or dressing necessary. I can actually taste my food now, and the different textures and flavors are just delightful (not tasting only salty and sweet). I recently discovered a recipe that turned out to be the most delicious thing I've tasted all month. This pie is so good, even FOUR skeptical carnivores tried it and LOVED it. It is so simple to make, too.

Cherry-Chocolate Mousse Pie

1/2 cup dried cherries
1 12-ounce box light silken tofu (or extra-firm silken tofu)
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Cacao Chips)
1 prepared Graham cracker crust

Cover the dried cherries with 1/2 cup of boiling water and soak them until soft. Drain (and reserve) the water, and put the cherries into the food processor. Pulse to chop. Drain the tofu and add it to the food processor along with the agave nectar and vanilla. Process until smooth.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour it into the food processor and puree, scraping down the sides as needed to make sure it’s well blended. Pour into a prepared crust and chill for several hours.


I sincerely hope you all try this recipe and enjoy its richness and healthfulness! Happy eating!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 20!!

Well I have successfully been a vegan for the past 20 days! Although my 21-day vegan kickstart program is almost over, my journey has just begun. Many thanks to PCRM.org for initiating this wonderful experience for me. I can honestly report that I have had ZERO cravings for any of the foods I used to "enjoy". I put that word in quotations because frankly, I was kidding myself when I thought I liked meat, dairy, and especially cheese. Now I look back and remember feeling so disgustingly full, bloated, tired, and all around crappy after eating things on the Standard American Diet. Now after filling myself with a vegan meal I feel light as a feather, ready to take on the world, and always satisfied. The recipes I have learned through PCRM and other helpful sources have been just a delight to prepare. I feel like I am a new inspired chef in the kitchen with an abundance of ingredients to work with!
Spices have also become a new fun part of my way of eating. They truly make things fun and interesting to eat, instead of everything just tasting of salt and sugar. It is amazing to me how different my taste buds have become. I now actually TASTE my food! I also am accustomed now to seeing such vibrant colors on my plate that the thought of a red bell pepper, purple cabbage, or bright green apple make me salivate! The food that I have eaten the past 20 days has been absolutely gorgeous.
I thought it would be interesting to put together a list of new pantry staples I have discovered I cannot live without. So here goes:

Agave Nectar- so much more delicious than I imagined, and doesn't give me heart palpitations or crashes like sugar! A must have for topping cereal and adding to smoothies.

Cinnamon- seriously delicious on oatmeal, added to smoothies, and mixed into cashew butter for toast!

Raw Nuts- not only great for a snack, but good on whole grain cereal. And I have discovered that raw cashews finely ground make an excellent topping for pasta (tastes like parmesan!)

Fresh Fruit- duh....its nature's original fast food! Satsuma oranges are my fav.

Nutritional Yeast- its been my go-to for sprinkling on anything savory. Gives dishes a cheese-like flavor and provides me with all the B-12 I need!

Freshly Ground Flax Seed- perfect to sprinkle on fruit, in smoothies, and on cereal.

Those are a few things that I had never considered a staple until this experience. I am just so excited to continue this journey and keep feeling as wonderful as I have. Thank you to everyone for their support, especially my sweet husband who has been so great and loving. I will leave you with a few recipes I made this evening-the lasagna is courtesy Rip Esselstyn and the PB Balls are from Home-Made Health, both the links are posted. YUMMY dinner and dessert is all I have to say.

Engine 2 Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Vegetarian Lasagna

1 onion , chopped
1 garlic clove , chopped
8 ounces oz mushrooms , sliced
1 head broccoli , chopped
2 carrots , chopped
2 red bell peppers , seeded and chopped
1 (15 ounce) can corn , rinsed and drained
1 (12 ounce) package tofu
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 (25 ounce) jars pasta sauce
2 (14 ounce) boxes whole grain lasagna noodles
16 ounces frozen spinach , thawed and drained
2 sweet potatoes , cooked and mashed
6 roma tomatoes , sliced thin
1 cup raw cashews , ground
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Sauté the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan. Sauté the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl. Sauté the peppers and corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to the vegetable bowl.
Drain the tofu by wrapping in paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine.
To Assemble:.
Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes.
Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews, and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Raw Food Peanut Butter Balls
1 1/3 C. oats
1/2 C. (heaping) peanut butter
1/2 C. coconut butter
1/2 C. Grade A Maple Syrup
1/2 C. dried coconut
1 t. vanilla
Chocolate Sauce for dipping (equal parts of agave and cacoa powder)
In a double broiler, slowly melt coconut butter and and peanut butter. Once melted add to a mixing bowl with all other ingredients. Use cookie scooper to scoop out of cookie sheet and dip or drizzle with chocolate if you want. Freeze and enjoy...and if you are like me...enjoy, enjoy, and enjoy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good Morning and Happy Eating!

Well I began the regimen yesterday, and I must say, I feel pretty fantastic today! I'm surprised by a few things....(and this is only 1 day into it!)
I prepared my grocery list yesterday and made my trek to Sunflower Market. Now, usually the first stop I make when I walk into the market is the gloriously huge cheese department because I am hopelessly (so I thought) addicted to all types of cheese. I was surprised at myself when I walked in, took a look at the mountain of cheese, and walked straight past it to the produce section, not giving it a second thought. You must understand, this was a big deal for me LOL. And I have yet to fight a cheese craving, partially thanks to the cheddar-flavored rice cheese I discovered which I happily put over my taco salad last night.
Second, I must tell you that I have an avid carnivore in my household. I still have to shop for and prepare carnivorous foods for my dear husband, who I am not forcing to eat my "rabbit food" as of yet :). One of my concerns is of course exposing myself to the fish, butter, and cheese that he will still be eating over the next 21 days. So yesterday I went to the fish department and bought some fresh salmon for him....we'll see how things go when I make it for his dinner tonight.
All in all I am positive about this change, excited for my next meal, and feeling great. I will leave you with a recipe for my Taco Salad (last nights dinner) and Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal (breakfast this morning).

Taco Salad

1 corn tostada bowl
Handful of greens (choose from Spinach, Rainbow Chard, Romaine, Iceberg, etc)
1 cup canned beans (choose from Pinto, Kidney, Black-eyed Peas, Black, or Navy)
1/2 cup cooked vegetables (I used Brussels Sprouts)
Rice or Soy Cheese to taste
1 green onion, sliced

Warm the tostada bowl in a preheated 350 degree oven for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Heat the can of beans in a saucepan until bubbly. Layer the ingredients in the tostada bowl in the order listed and enjoy!

Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal

1 packet whole-grain oat mix or 1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup water
1/2 golden delicious apple, chopped into small chunks
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Handful dried cranberries or other dried fruit
Splash coconut milk creamer
Agave nectar to taste

In a large microwavable bowl mix together the oats, water, apple, and cinnamon. Microwave on high 2 minutes and stir. Add the cranberries and coconut milk creamer and stir again. Drizzle agave nectar on top to taste. Enjoy with a slice of whole-grain toast with Earth Balance spread and fruit jam!