Monday, September 24, 2012

The Results Are In (Drum Roll, Please)

Mildly disappointing, I didn't lose any weight this very last week. I blame waaaay too many alcoholic beverages and slices of cake on Friday and Saturday (stupidly just before my weigh-in). Just because the cake was vegan didn't mean it was calorie free. But hey, I've learned my lesson, forgiven myself, and am ready to move on to bigger and better things.

So, over the course of my three week Weight Loss Kickstart, I:

  • Lost 6 pounds
  • Lost 1 and 1/2 inches of off my hips
  • Lost 2 inches off of my waist
  • Lost 2 and 1/2 inches off my bust
  • Lost 1 inch off of each thigh
  • Gained a lot more energy, especially midday
  • Stopped drinking coffee and soda almost entirely
  • Completely halted my IBS episodes
  • Started developing a better self-image, outside and in
  • Cleared my previously conflicted conscience about eating ocean life
Not to shabby, I'd say! I am feeling really, really positive about all of this. So where to go from here?

Right now, I feel like I've only just begun a really awesome adventure--there is so much more to do and learn about food (and I do love food). Dr. Barnard tells me not to say, "I'm a vegan now," but instead to say "I will follow a vegan diet for the next (relatively short-term commitment here)." So what kind of commitment will I be making?

Check out my new name to find out. Hope you'll stick around!

Banana Pancakes with Home-Made Blueberry Syrup

This recipe was inspired by post on the Hungry Hungry Hippie blog. Not having any coconut on hand, I decided to make my own version.

Banana Pancakes with Home-Made Blueberry Syrup

Don't let the home-made syrup daunt you--it is actually incredibly easy and fuss-free. All you want to do is throw a handful of blueberries in a small sauce pot (however many you want to eat), cover them only about half way with water, add two tablespoons over your favorite sweetener, and start them off at a simmer. You'll notice that as soon as they get hot the blueberries begin to burst and turn the liquid purple. Yum! Go ahead and add the juice and the finely-chopped zest of half a lemon. After about 7-10 minutes remove it from the heat. It will congeal a little bit more, so I actually ended up having to stir back in a tiny bit more water to get the right consistency. That's it! So much more healthy than the store bought kind as well. Also, you could strain this if you don't want chunks, but I didn't.
Blueberry pancake syrup reducing.

Next, mix up the pancake batter. I've stopped measuring entirely, but I'll try to estimate:
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp of cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 mashed ripe banana
Basically, put all of ingredients besides the milk in a measuring cup and that add the liquid and whisk until it looks right. There really isn't a way to ruin it. Them fry 'em up (no butter needed)!

These go incredibly fast, so keep an eye on them.

Then just stack, top with syrup, and enjoy! This recipe yielded six pancakes, which is enough for one ravenous person or two regular person (and I'm not going to tell you which I was this morning).

Why yes, that IS gooey banana oozing out of the center. De-freakin-licious.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Garlicky Kale

Big shout out to my friend Jessica for introducing me to this wonderful new food, which is pretty much my new addiction...

Garlicky Kale

There is just something about this dish. I've always liked kale, but I can just straight up eat this as a meal. The flavor is pungent, but it a really satisfying way like aged brie or a good crystallized Gruyere. This recipe probably isn't for non-garlic-lovers (or the faint of heart, for that matter), but for those of you who are I think you'll definitely be going back for more... again and again and again.

This recipe originally came from Brittany Mullins on Eating Bird Food.

In a food processor combine:
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
Blend until smooth. There will be itty bitty pieces of garlic, but that is okay.

Garlic sauce--the nutritional yeast makes it yellow.

Wash, de-stem, and tear into bite sized pieces one bunch of kale. This is a whole lot of leafy green, so much sure you start with a very large bowl.

One bunch of fresh raw kale.

Next, pour all of the garlic dressing on the kale and thoroughly massage it into the leaves. It is a MUST to use your hands here. Take extra care to make sure the dressing is evenly distributed. If for some reason you don't have quite as much kale, don't put all of the dressing in. It is strong enough that a little goes a very long way.

Kale after the dressing is massaged in.

As you can see, the kale has already reduced in volume. The longer it is left to marinate, the more wilted the kale will become. If you want it really crunchy, eat it right away. If you would like your kale a little more manageable, let it sit in the fridge for an hour before serving.

Also, please excuse all of my window sill photographs--I know it's ghetto. It is the only spot in the entire kitchen that isn't dark though! Oh, and as a reward to myself today I bought some pretty ceramic fire-glazed dishes. No more monotonous plates! I don't know if you guys had noticed, but it was driving me crazy.

As always, thanks for reading!


I don't know about you, but I definitely have issues with food addiction.

Usually this happens regarding desserts. If I know that there is a piece of cake in the fridge, I can't stop thinking about. I can't sleep because I am thinking about eating that piece of cake, I wake up and the first thought on my mind is that piece of cake... You get the picture.

Strangely, for the first time in my life--and I've no idea why--the sweets aren't tormenting me any more. I think it might be that I don't really have them around, and I am so busy eating so many fantastic vegetable-based dishes that I don't even have time to think about it. When my room mates have something sweet lying out on the counter it doesn't bother me either because I know it isn't vegan and so in my mind I categorize it as inedible. It is so cool to not be sugar crazy all the time.

But, alas, I knew this peace couldn't last. Last night Jessica cooked me a lovely dinner and turned me on to another dang food addiction...

Garlicky Kale.

Yes indeed. I can't stop thinking about it. I woke up with it on my mind, and now that I am attempting to start my homework I cannot focus on anything except those pungent, wilted leaves...

This is the only picture I could snag before we voraciously devoured it.

Excuse me while I make a trip to Kroger to buy several pounds of kale and a jar of nutritional yeast.

You can expect lots of pictures and a recipe to come, ha ha!

Soba Noodle Bowl

This soup is one of my favorites, but it originally contained chicken and chicken stock. A little tweaking produced a delicate and flavorful vegetarian dish that is mild enough to be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Soba Noodle Bowl

Begin by bringing to a boil:
  • 2 cups of water
  • 6 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1 lb of sliced mushrooms (I used button because they were on sale)
  • 2 bunches (6oz) of buckwheat soba noodles
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped garlic
  • 3 slices of peeled ginger (about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • freshly cracked pepper
After about 4 minutes, add:
  • 5 sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
  • 2 generous cups of fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup of sliced sugar snap peas
Feel free to play around with any other vegetables you may have on hand, such as water chestnut, carrot, or onion. Boil two more minutes, remove ginger and bay leaf, and serve. This is one of the fastest and easiest recipes to make, especially if you buy presliced mushrooms and jarred chopped garlic. This recipe serves four, and the SparkRecipes Recipe Calculator tells me that each serving is 250 calories, has almost zero fat, and contains 3.5 grams of fiber. Healthy and delicious!


Birthday Celebrations

I am having so much fun discovering all of the wonderful foods and restaurants to go to and eat at. This past Friday we went to Kabuki Japanese Steak & Seafood and enjoyed a hibachi show.

Kabuki Japanese Steak & Seafood

The building was beautiful. The ceiling was pained with stars, there were marine fish tanks everywhere, and they had a lounge featuring a waterfall.

Cucumber & Avocado Sushi and a salad with ginger dressing.

My first experience with vegan sushi was awesome--it was super yummy and I easily could have filled up on about five of those rolls.

My delicious sauteed veggies.

The very first thing the chef did was dump a gigantic bowl of mixed vegetables on the hibachi. I thought that they would be divided amoung everyone as a first course, but I was delighted to see that they were all for me!

This is what my plate looked like when I had eaten half of my food...
The leftovers were a perfect breakfast the day after!

The "Vegetarian Dinner" was wonderful. I didn't get the soup and grilled shrimp that everyone else got, but I was 100% content and satisfied with my meal. There was a garlic sauce to die for that I basically drown my already amazing veggies in, and then there was an amazing ginger and soy sauce dressing that was particularly good on the fried rice. So, so fantastic that I am starting to drool just remembering about it. And all for only $13!

Onion Volcano

Our Malaysian chef.

And on top of that, the show was good and the company was lovely.

James, Heenal, Carla, Helen, me, and Darren.

Ultimate Chocolate Cake

Friday was the birthday of both of my room mates, Carla and Helen. I am all about festivities, so I volunteered to make the cake.

Now, I will admit that I made the offer partially out of selfishness. I wanted to be able to eat cake too, which meant secretly making it vegan. Besides, I figured that they would be a game enough crowd to turn into my guinea pigs for a night.

If I hadn't told anyone, not a single soul would have suspected that this cake was not filled with butter and cream--that's how good it was. It was so fast, so easy, and so delicious. Incredibly chocolaty and very reminiscent of a moist brownie. Yum!

This recipe is from aliciak on

First, combine 1 1/4 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a baking dish (I used 7x9). Stir everything together with a fork.

Stir together dry ingredients.

Next, add to dry ingredients 1 cup of warm coffee, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, and 1 tsp of distilled white or apple cider vinegar. This part is very important! If your vinegar isn't distilled and is diluted with water the cake will turn out to be a gooey brick. That would be a waste of perfectly good chocolaty awesomeness, so be careful. Mix everything thoroughly.

Cake batter after the wet ingredients are mixed in.

Next, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Mine actually took only 25 minutes, so keep an eye on it and adjust for the size of the pan you are using. Let cool completely.

Fresh out of the oven.

Lastly, pour the icing mix on top (see recipe below). It will cool very, very quickly so spread it fast. Let cool one hour.

The icing is almost more like a ganache.

Finally, decorate and serve! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did--I think that every single one of us went for seconds!

So delicious!

For the frosting, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 4 tbsp margarine, 2 tbsp almond milk, and 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder in a small pot. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and then simmer for 2 minutes while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir for an addition 5 minutes. At this point the icing should go from gloopy and bubbly to smooth, silky, and glassy. Stir in 2 tsp of vanilla extract and ice cake immediately.

So shiny you can see your reflection in it...

I will be playing with this recipe for sure in the future. I made it exactly the way the instructions said this time, but I'd like to experiment with whole wheat flour, apple sauce, and some sort of unprocessed sugar. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Black Mushroom Cantonese Stir-Fry

I had completely different ideas about what this dish would be like--it actually turned out to be like a vegetable chow mein. It reminded me of the blue can of La Choy chow mein my mom used to buy when we were kids.

Black Mushroom Cantonese Stir-Fry

Start off by sauteing for 5 minutes a container of sliced shikate mushrooms, half a yellow onion, 3 hot small dried red chili peppers, 3 cloves of garlic, a small can of bamboo shoots, and a handful of sugar snap peas. I couldn't find these peppers at Kroger and I didn't have time to run to the Asian market, so I got some different dried peppers. They were useless and imparted no flavor. Next time I'll add a some red pepper flakes instead, which will be less hassle anyways.

Sauteing veggies.

Next mix up 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and about a cup of water (I will probably use vegetable stock next time for extra flavor). Dump over the stir-fried vegetables and start adding soy sauce, probably around half a cup. While I usually use low-sodium only, this is one occasion where regular would be appropriate. Either that or season with salt. Don't forget pepper as well.

Once the sauce is added...

Serve over rice with scallions and sesame seeds, if desired, and season with extra soy sauce as is necessary. The key to this one is really the soy sauce, so don't be afraid to be liberal with it.


Singapore Noodles

While picking up large rice noodles for the Hakka Noodles at Kroger, I noticed a package of really thin mei fun rice noodles. One of my favorite Chinese-American fast food dishes is Singapore Noodles, so I decided to hang the meal plan and make these for lunch one day.

Singapore Noodles

These noodles are incredibly simple to make. Soak some rice noodles in hot tap water for 10 minutes and then rinse with cold water and drain. In the meantime, saute some garlic, ginger, and and vegetables you'd like. I used snow peas, onion, and scallions. I bet carrots, sprouts, and cabbage would be wonderful as well. You will want a little bit of oil, just a tablespoon or two, one you put the noodles in just so that they don't stick. Fry the noodles for a minute or two, tossing with tongs throughout. Then start adding in soy sauce and curry powder. There really isn't any right amount--whatever looks (and more importantly tastes) right. Next time I may add a little bit of vegetable stock towards the end just to get a bit more moisture, but these noodles are supposed to be dry rather than saucy.

Kind of like Filipino pancit, this is the kind of dish that you can throw whatever leftovers you've got in the fridge in, including meat if you aren't following a vegan diet. Fast, easy, cheap, and incredibly flavorful. What else could you ask for?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hakka Noodles

These noodles had the potential to be amazing, but they need a little bit of tinkering with first. I will be experimenting with this dish in the future for sure.

Hakka Noodles

This recipe had a ton of ingredients originally. I pared it down and decided to use just what I had on hand. I used:
  • al dente fettuccine-size rice noodles
  • crushed red pepper
  • carrots
  • napa cabbage
  • onion
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • snow peas
  • bell pepper
  • fresh cilantro
In a separate bowl mix up some ketchup, apple cider vinegar, and soy sauce. This is the part I've got to play with still. Too much ketchup makes the noodles way too rich and overpowering. Dump this on the stir-fried vegetables and mix them up and they are ready to eat.

I'll let you guys know what progress I make on these--they have a lot of potential.

Jamaican Stir-fry

What a crazy and wonderful dish. So many new flavors! I cannot wait to make this again.

Jamaican Stir-fry

The first step to this recipe is to get bell pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, plantain, and fresh jalapeno sauteing in a pan. The less brown the plantain is, the less sweet it is--which is a good thing for a savory stir-fry. The original recipe called for half of a habanero. That is not something that I would be able to handle or enjoy, so instead I used a quarter of a jalapeno and it was just right.

Once everything is browned, the recipe says to add fresh thyme, allspice, and curry powder. I have never felt like such an imbecile in the kitchen before--as I've got this stir-fry half finished cooking I realize that I forgot the curry powder and the allspice (which are basically the two main flavors in this dish). Instead I improvised and dumped some of basically every spice in my cupboard into the pan. I ended up using: cinnamon, nutmeg, ground clove, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, and coriander. I felt certain that I had ruined it beyond palatability, but the aroma coming off of it was actually quite nice...

The last step is to pour in some almond milk and stir so that you end up with a sort of curry sauce. After I plated it and sat down at the table, I probably stared at it for about 5 minutes (between the plantain and the circus of spices going on in there it didn't seem very approachable). Turns out that it was fantastic. I was dying to have more of that precious, wonderful sauce with every bite. The plantains were extremely odd though--it was a flavor and texture I've never had before, and it was a little bewildering. Next time I make this I am going to dice the plantain instead and use a lot more other vegetables with it. I'll probably double the amount of spices and almond milk too, because the resulting curry sauce was pretty much to die for. Yum!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chipotle Black Bean Burger

This recipe has gotten pushed back several times, and so I decided today it was finally time to explore the vegan realm of burgers.

Chipotle Black Bean Burger

Unfortunately, this one didn't quite turn out so well. This was a little bit of a pain to make simply because there were a lot of odd ingredients and the beans had to be mashed and whatnot. Once I added the oatmeal and panko to the wet black bean mash, the dough had to set for a few minutes.

Black bean and bread crumb "dough".

After that I formed the dough into patties and dropped them in a hot pan to brown on both sides. The first burger immediately burnt and then I accidentally dropped it on the floor. No good. I was much more careful with the second burger, and it seemed to be perfectly seared. It even smelled amazing!

Frying the burger was harder than I thought it would be--it burnt quickly.
This is the second one I made; you can tell because it's not completely black.

The taste really wasn't too bad, but the texture was completely off. The outside was good, but the center was mush, kind of like the consistency of raw hamburger meat. I ate most of it, but only because I was hungry. I was thinking that maybe a sliced tomato on top would make it a little more palatable, but I found my tomato to be frozen completely solid in the back of the fridge. So much for that.

One thing that did turn out pretty good earlier today however was the roasted sweet potato with breakfast.

Roast Sweet Potato

Salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of Pam spray is all these babies needed. Well, that and maple syrup for dipping, of course. I'm thinking I'll have to do some savory garlic and herb ones next time for dinner or a snack. Yum!

Day 17

The menu for the day is:

Berries and Rosemary Oatmeal (recipe)
Roasted, chopped sweet potatoes drizzled with maple syrup

Chipotle Black Bean Burger (recipe)
Chips and hummus

Jamaican Stir-Fry (recipe)
Bananas in Berry Artesia (recipe)

I'm feeling a little nervous about that stir-fry. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Daily Reading

Remember those daily readings I've been doing along with the meal plan? Well, they've been pretty cool so far. Some days I am just blown away though. Today was one of those days.

The section was entitled, "Foods That Conquer Pain." Not that I really have any pain, but I think that some of this is applicable to almost everyone. Dr. Barnard talked about the four different types of pain that can be managed, prevented, or treated with diet: joint pain, migraines, back pain, and menstrual cramps.

Joint Pain

This part referred mostly to arthritis, but all of it has to do with inflammation. Apparently there are some foods that trigger joint inflammation for some people:
  • dairy
  • meat
  • eggs
  • corn
  • sugar
  • nuts
  • coffee
  • wheat, rye, oats
  • citrus fruits
  • potatoes
  • tomatoes
His suggestion for people who have joint pain is to switch to a vegan diet for a few weeks--that means diary, meat, and eggs are already out. If the pain persists after that, remove all of the other foods from your diet for a month. Once you begin feeling better you can start introducing one trigger food at a time until you identify what the problem is.


These intense headaches, as it turns out, are very much like joint pain. Here's what can trigger them:
  • dairy
  • meat
  • eggs
  • chocolate
  • corn
  • nuts
  • wheat
  • citrus fruits
  • tomatoes
  • onions
  • apples
  • bananas
You'll want to do exactly what was listed for the section above.

Back Pain

Dr. Barnard says that a lot of peoples' back pain is caused from restricted blood flow to the spine, which is often caused by a meaty diet and/or smoking. This can actually lead over to to a pinched disk and pain that shoots all the way down the leg. A vegan diet alone should alleviate back pain that is not caused by an underlying disease.

Menstrual Cramps

Alright ladies, this is the answer you've been looking for. The science behind this one is that a vegan diet lowers estrogen levels (while a meaty diet raises them). High estrogen levels are associated with breast cancer, and also all of those lovely monthly side-effects. Even in women with severe symptoms, a vegan diet reduced pain and in many cases completely got rid of it. And yeah, that is every month. The key to this one is also a low-fat, high-fiber diet too though. Oh, and don't worry--less estrogen isn't going to make you extra hairy or anything. The odd thing to me is that my birth control is constantly feeding me more estrogen on a daily basis. I wonder what Dr. Barnard would say about that. Perhaps I'll shoot him an email. Regardless, I'll be able to say whether this one works or not in about a few weeks, hehe.

Some of these I'm not really sure about why they work, and I really am quite interested. But seriously, if you've got something like this going on and nothing is working, why not try dietary changes?

The was a story as well in the reading, about a nutritionist who had arthritis in her neck so badly that she could barely move. After taking steroids and tons of other drugs she was still in a lot of pain. She was only in her forties. After switching to a vegan diet her inflammation completely cleared up, she lost 40 pounds, and all of her acne went away. Pretty crazy stuff!

That story actually made me tear up a little bit while reading it, because it made me think of my mom. At forty years old, she has tendinitis in both shoulders and what is most likely sciatica affecting her back, hip, and leg. She's been working hard with physical therapy to help alleviate the inflammation but I know it is still a daily nuisance for her.

Soooooo what needs to happen is that she'll move in with me and I'll cook her a super healthy home-made vegan meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day! Right mom? *nudge nudge*

Maybe not, but I do think that this might be able to help. A vegan diet sounds crazy, I know, but it is actually the easiest "diet" I've ever been on. It really is a "diet" only in the sense that it is a way to eat, just like omnivorism or vegetarianism. Not to mention that all of these veggies contain loads of vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy anyways. I also have a friend with terrible migraines that I think could benefit from a vegan diet.

Dr. Barnard had one more tip for those struggling with joint inflammation. As a doctor, and after you've given dietary changes an honest try, he would prescribe every night with dinner:
  • one tablespoon of flaxseed oil
  • 1.4 to 2.8 grams of gamma-linolenic acid from borage, black currant, or evening primrose oil
  • AND 400 IU of vitamin E (only 100 if you have high blood pressure).
The top two are omega-3 fatty acids that are naturally found in plants.

Good luck, and I hope I've influenced you in some way to be healthier! I certainly have been.

Day 16

The menu for the day is:

Green Glamour Breakfast Smoothie (recipe)
Apricot Oatmeal (recipe)

Lentil Soup
Green Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing (recipe)

Fettuccine with Grilled Asparagus, Peas, and Lemon (recipe)
Fresh blueberries

As I'm posting this later in the day, I've actually completed today's menu plan already.

I ended up pressing the snooze button one time too many this morning and was in a bit of a rush to get to my 8 am class. The other day I found a coupon for Dole's new frozen smoothie cup (just take out of the freezer, add juice, shake, and go) and I picked on up at Krogers. I decided to take that with me this morning instead of making the odd kale smoothie on the menu, but I didn't realize when I got it that it had yogurt in it. I didn't have time for anything else and I knew I'd be hungry if I didn't take it, so I ended up drinking it anyways. We'll chalk that up to a little slip up that can be easily avoided next time. Besides, the smoothie was pretty nasty so I'd never want to get one again anyways.

I tried out Amy's brand canned soup for lunch, and it was pretty good. I didn't get to make the salad yesterday, so I tacked it onto today's menu. The can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce smelled so wonderful that I got a dollop on my finger to taste--bad idea, it was insanely spicy! One of these chipotles went into the blender with some pepper, coriander seeds, Pace mild salsa, and vegan mayo. The dressing wasn't as hot as I was fearing it would be (I scraped out the seeds before I put the pepper in the blender), but the vegan mayo did give it a rather odd flavor. I can't really describe it. Once I got used to it, the dressing really didn't make a half bad salad.

Remember that fiasco with this pasta recipe last time? No way, no how was I making that again. Instead I decided it was time to pay Chipotle a visit.

Why yes, that IS guacamole.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Portobello Fajitas

Sorry guys--I wasn't very on task today with the cooking, again! Too much homework, not enough time. The one new recipe I did get to try, however, turned out to be pretty darn good.

Portobello Fajitas

Out of pure laziness I decided to try to cook the rice in the microwave while I made the fajita filling--it was okay, but a little too gooey. I probably won't be doing that again. The fajita filling was super easy. All I did was saute onion, red pepper, portobello mushroom strips, and garlic, add some cumin and chili powder at the end, and deglaze with a bit of white wine to finish. The recipe called for just that, but I decided to get fancy with mine and put some cilantro lime rice on the fajita as well. I wanted a little freshness as well so I topped it with a bit of pico de gallo.

Like I said, it was good, but I am dreaming bigger. I'm thinking fajita burrito. Cilantro lime rice, black beans, fajita veggies, pico de gallo, and a big dollop of guacamole. You could make it a fajita burrito bowl too, skipping the tortilla and adding some lettuce. And then there is corn salsa... The possibilities are endless!

One of my favorite restaurants is Chipotle, and this is a lot like something you could get there, though I'm sure theirs is going to be 10x tastier. With all the vegan options they offer, I think I'll have to pay them a visit soon. As a quick fix at home though, this versatile recipe did the trick.

Day 15

The menu for the first day of week three is:

Peppery Raspberry Pancakes (recipe)
Watermelon and Supergreens Breakfast Smoothie (recipe)

Black Bean Chipotle Burger (recipe)

Green salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing (recipe)
Israeli Couscous with Carrots, Peas, and Red Wine Vinegar (recipe)
Portobello Fajitas (recipe)
Mango Lime Sorbet (recipe)

Yesterday I was busy enough that I didn't have time to make my fajitas or sorbet, so I am rearranging the meal plan so that is on for tonight instead of the couscous (which doesn't really sounds all that appetizing). Last night at my friend Jessica's house we ate warm bread with herb oil, a mixed green salad, a cold black bean and cilantro salad, and some vegan oreo ice cream. What a feast it was! I am really surprised by how good the soy ice cream was--tasted about the same as a quart of regular old Breyers would. Not quite Bruster's quality, but hey, I can dig it.

Stay tuned for some more delicious, hearty recipes later this afternoon!

Weigh In 2

Today marks two full weeks of a vegan diet completed and the start of the third. This past week I have lost another 3 pounds, bringing my weight from 255 to 249. Over the last seven days I've also dropped an additional inch and a half on my bust as well as a half inch on my waist. I'm feeling pretty good about this!

I know that other people are losing more, but I am happy right where I am at. I don't think I'd want to lose any faster anyways, because I know that rapid weight loss can cause some serious health issues. My goal is 150 pounds, and at this rate I could be there in about 8 months--before the end of the academic year and next summer. To stop me from being down on myself, my mom always says, "It took you twenty-one years to get this way--it'll be just as hard to get back." I don't know mom, it is looking pretty quick and easy from here!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Day 14

This is my last day in week two of the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart, and I've got a really good feeling about my weigh in tomorrow morning. First though, to get through some delicious meals today.

Breakfast Burrito
Dan Dan Mian (recipe)

Portobello Fajitas (recipe)

Mango Lime Sorbet (recipe)

You're right, I can't just eat sorbet for dinner (though that does sound rather delightful). My new vegan friend, Jessica, has invited me over to her house and is cooking for us! I've no idea what we'll be having, but I'm sure it will be wonderful and I'll take pictures and get the recipe if it is super yummy. So excited!

I'm Baaaack

What an awesome (and crazy) past few days!

Helen (left), Carla (right), and me at the Victoria's Secret Pink Takes Tech party.

I've missed you all and promise to be diligent about posting in my last week of the diet. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 11

This week is getting really hectic, really fast. I'm afraid that the menu today isn't going to happen. First, I wasn't able to find ingredients for breakfast. Second, I won't be back home until the evening so I'll have to pack lunch or grab something out. And third, I am attending a barbecue tonight for dinner as a member of the Wildlife Society.

Tomorrow is going to be similarly crazy. I won't be home for lunch, and then after class I'll be heading right over to the Pink Party hosted by Victoria's Secret and the Gym Class Heroes concert.

So please excuse me for a little while if I don't have any posts or pictures up.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dan Dan Mian

This is probably one of my favorite recipes thus far, but then again it doesn't take very much Asian food to sway me. This also happens to be one of the quickest and easiest recipes as well, and I can easily see this becoming a lunch time staple from now on. I've only eaten hours ago and I'm already craving another bowl.

Dan Dan Mian

Don't ask me what the name means, by the way. I haven't a clue.

Basically all you have to do is boil some soba noodles noodles for 4 minutes. Soba noodles are made of buckwheat, but mine had yam as well. One bunch, or about 3.5-4 ounces, of noodles is one generous serving.

Soba Noodles

Next, in a small dish you'll want to mix up the sauce. I used 1/2 teaspoon of chili paste and 2 teaspoons of rice wine vinegar. Then I added enough soy sauce to dilute the spiciness to the level I wanted. Low sodium soy sauce is always the way to go if you are using more than a teaspoon.

The chili paste and rice wine vinegar came from an Asian market.
The soy sauce and sesame seeds came from Food Lion.

One the noodles are done, drain them and return them to the pot. Dump the sauce over top and stir (you'll have to play around to get the amount of sauce right--I ended up having to use extra soy sauce). Serve them with green onion and sesame seeds on top.

So much awesomeness in such a little bowl...

This recipe also called for pickled cabbage on top but I didn't have any. Maybe next time!

Day 10

The menu for the day is:

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal

Artichoke Heart and Tomato Salad (recipe)
Black Bean Chipotle Burger (recipe)
Dan Dan Mian (recipe)
Fresh grapes

Red Curry Chickpea and Sweet Potato Soup (recipe)
Brown rice
Spinach salad with cherry tomatoes

I have never had just plain chickpeas before, and eating one fresh out of the can wasn't really that appetizing first thing upon waking. I opted for the banana instead. Off to the store to buy curry for dinner!

Too Pretty to Eat (Almost)

I didn't end up having time to eat any dinner last night, but I was able to make my super delicious lunch consisting of a Balsamic Zucchini Sandwich. I've already posted this recipe, but I just want to share the beauty once more...

Balsamic Zucchini Sandwich
*angels singing*

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day 9

Here's what's on the menu for day nine of the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart:

Green Apple Blueberry Oatmeal
Lemon soy yogurt with blueberries

French Onion Sourdough Soup (recipe)
Balsamic Zucchini Sandwich (recipe)
Banana slices

Garden salad
Black refried beans with salsa
Blue corn tortillas
Quinoa Verde (recipe)
Sliced melon
Dan Dan Mian (recipe)?

It's kind of another crazy one. I couldn't find any soy yogurt, so that is out of the picture for breakfast. I didn't love the Green Apple Oatmeal last time, so I'm going to try it with blueberries this time. For lunch I may skip out on the soup--the recipe looks a bit dodgy. Dinner just seems like an unappetizing mess to me, not to mention that I just made quinoa with salsa verde in it yesterday. Why on earth would I make a nearly identical recipe again? I'll pass.

There is a recipe in the book called Dan Dan Mian, a Szechuan noodle dish that I was thinking of making instead, but I am having a hard time finding some of the ingredients. I'm going to head over to an ethnic market after class tomorrow and see if I can find what I need there. Let's some Asian-inspired flavors up in here!


I've been keeping track of my grocery bill so far, and I've got the numbers for week one of the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart.

During this past week I purchased well over one hundred items for a grand total of $182.75--a number I find to be shockingly high. Seeing as I only budget $75 a week for groceries, you can see the problem I have. There are a few reasons for this though:

1) I didn't have hardly any staples in my pantry already. I had to buy even things like spices. In fact, I spend almost $20 on spices. There were other bigger purchases as well. I bought the cheapest jug of maple syrup that I could find, and it was still $8. These things are really seldom purchases though, and will serve me for a very long time.

2) I used a wide variety of ingredients, but not very much of each. I still have most of almost everything left, including the veggies and definitely the non-perishables. I won't be needing to buy any new bread, pasta, or condiments for a few weeks as well. Really, I only ate less than half of the food that I used, and the rest is still available for future recipes.

3) I tried to follow recipes exactly, which meant including silly things like pumpkin seeds and alfalfa sprouts. This next week I think I'll skip the little luxuries if they are a little more pricey. I'm sure the recipe will be just fine without them.

So, while I was a little shocked to see the bill, I think that this upcoming week should be much cheaper. In fact, I've made it through dinner today without doing a shop yet, just using what I had left on hand. It'll all work out, I'm sure.

Week 1 Progress

Here's the moment I've been waiting for all week! Drum roll, please...

This morning the scale read 252 pounds. While I don't know my exact starting weight, I'm pretty sure it was at least 255, maybe a tiny bit more--let's just say 255. That is a weight loss of 3 lbs in one week. Seeing as I'm supposed to lose 2 lbs per week, I'd say that is a pretty good number!

While the books says to look primarily at the scale, I did decide to take my measurements on day three as well. According to the tape measure, I've lost one inch each off of my hips, bust, and thighs as well as one and a half inches off my waist.

I could tell about my hips and thighs--I can barely get my jeans to stay on, and they are very baggy in the butt, pooch, and thigh areas. I started noticing my waist a little bit, but I was surprised to see so much gone.

I can't tell you how happy I am that this is working! I have tried and failed so many times that I was completely terrified there would be no difference today. So glad to be wrong! I feel like I have a purpose now, and that this isn't crazy after all.

Also, I actually have been feeling a difference in energy. I don't have as hard of a time getting up in the mornings, and I am completely off of coffee now--I had been drinking an average of three cups a day. My whole adult life I've consistantly felt a rather miserable slump at almost exactly 3 o'clock in the afternoon every day, which usually resulted in a nap. I don't feel sleepy at all during the day anymore! It is so nice not to be battling with myself and to have extra time to get things done because I don't need to sleep half way through the day.

Helen asked me last night if after three weeks I would go back to an omnivorous diet. I told her no last night, that I wouldn't, and today I really mean that. I am completely content eating this way, so why change? At the very least this is environmentally healthy, but that isn't just it. This diet has so many perks, and I am not seeing very many downfalls. To be honest, I haven't missed meat, cheese, or dairy once this whole week. And considering that I've still got a whole lot of weight to lose, no, I'm not stopping at three weeks. The only difference after the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart will be that I get to make up my own menus.

I can't believe I used to make fun of vegans before this... Just gotta' live and learn!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day 8

The menu for today is:

Ginger Banana Breakfast Smoothie (recipe)
Toast with jam

Pita Pizza (recipe)

Curried Tomato Lentil Soup (recipe)
Steamed asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower
Crusty whole-grain bread
Mali Chips (recipe)
Fresh strawberries

I find this meal plan to be a little odd. Lunch is so bare and dinner has five different items. We might have to a bit of juggling around here.

Stay tuned for a weight loss progress report first thing in the morning!

Baked Cardamom Pears

This was dessert for day seven of the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart.

Cardamom Baked Pear

This is probably the easiest and mess-free recipe in the meal plan I have been following. All I did was cut a pear in half, scoop out the core with a spoon, fill the core with golden raisins, sprinkle the whole thing with ground cardamom, and bake in a covered dish at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven.

While these are fairly sweet, it is all natural sugar enhanced with a little bit of spice. I bet these would also be wonderful as a warm, homey breakfast. I kept pestering Helen about having one, and she finally acquiesced to a little bite. She found it to be so good that she ended up eating the whole pear half. I think we've got a keeper!

Linguine with Seared Oyster Mushrooms

While there aren't many foods that I don't like, mushrooms have got to be one of my all time favorites. Simmered in white wine, who could say no?

Linguine with Seared Oyster Mushrooms & Wilted Spinach with Lemon

My only complaint here was that this meal was so acidic. Next time I would probably leave the lemon out of the spinach, since there is already lemon, tomato, and capers in the pasta sauce.

If a pan I first sauteed a mix of oyster, shikate, and cremini mushrooms. Half way through I dumped in a little white wine. Let that evaporate and then cook the mushrooms a bit longer just so that they get crisp. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.

Next, put one can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, the juice of one lemon, and a tablespoon of capers into the pan. Let simmer while you boil your pasta. Once that's done plate the pasta, top with sauce, and sprinkle the mushrooms on top along with some fresh sliced basil. This goes really well with some oven-toasted garlic bread as well.

The taste makes up for the less-than-stellar looks. Or maybe that's just my plating skills?

Quinoa and Red Bean Salad

This was my lunch for day seven, and man was it refreshing and delicious.

Pita Bread, Spinach & Garlic Hummus, and Quinoa & Red Bean Salad

This is pretty much the perfect meal for a warm summer's day, and required minimal cooking. All I had to do was simmer some quinoa on low heat for 25 minutes, chop the veggies, and stir everything together.

The salad contained:

1 diced tomato
1 diced yellow squash
4 green onions
2 napa cabbage leaves, finely sliced
1/2 cup of rinsed red beans
1/2 cup corn

Combine all of these ingredients with one cup of cooked quinoa and then toss with 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and half a cup of Salsa Verde. I'm really glad I decided not to toss out that salsa the other day--a hint of those tangy flavors worked really well with this salad. You could always buy a jar of salsa if you don't have any tomatillos (or patience) to make it yourself.

One of the most beautiful dishes thus far!


Today's reading talked a lot about energy and featured some incredible athletes that follow a vegan diet for the nutrition they need to perform at their best. One that really stood out to me was Scott Jurek.

At fifteen he was skiing and decided to become an Ironman. At twenty he entered his first ultramarathon (50 miles) and came in second place. Over the next few years he came in first place at the following races:

  • seven times champ and world record holder for the Western States Endurance Run (100 miles)
  • one time winner of the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles)
  • three time conqueror of the Spartathlon, running from Athens to Sparta in one stretch (153 miles)
And can you believe that this is all on fruit, vegetables, rice, beans, and potatoes? This guy completely blows my mind. I don't even know what to say. Check him out:

The Perfect Pancakes

This morning's menu was pancakes, maple syrup, and fresh raspberries. Easy, delicious, and right up my ally. Now that I've made vegan pancakes a few times, I've got the recipe perfected.

Pancakes with Maple Syrup

I've discovered that it is easiest to just combine everything right in a measuring cup. That way it is easy to pour as well. You'll need:

2/3 cup of soy or almond milk
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons of cane sugar sugar
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pour the milk up to the 2/3 mark on your measuring cup (I use one with a two cup capacity and that is plenty big) and then add the rest of the ingredients. When you've got everything dumped in, stir with a whisk--it should only take a few stirs. Let the batter set for just a moment while you let the pan get hot; medium heat should do it. You can use a bit of nonstick spray if you feel it is necessary (I never need any because I have a nonstick pan). Your batter should have gotten very fluffy in the meantime, with the actual volume increasing by about 25%. If you have a large pan you can do pancakes two at a time, but no more because they'll spread out a lot. You know the drill--wait until the top bubbles and then flip on the other side for about a minute. I've found that these pancakes go quite fast.

This recipe serves two, and made seven medium-sized pancakes for me this morning.

Quite a long shot from those thick, tough mango pancakes I made on my first day, right? I'm not sure why the batter was so thick then, which wasn't actually bad, but light and fluffy is surely the way to go. You can tell that these are wheat, but I honestly think that they are just as good as buttermilk pancakes. Enjoy!