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.
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!