The Lent season is over and for 40 days I have not consumed meat, meat products or bi-products. And honestly I have not felt better. (let’s just forget those two tacos I consumed at Galt, lol. Because Sundays didn’t count and I still ate vegan on Sundays :)) This was a good change for me because although I didn’t eat a lot of red meat to begin with, I never really thought about where my food came from. Having to check food labels and making sure that what I was eating wasn’t processed with fish, milk, or eggs, I really became more aware of where I was getting my food.
Also, it was a great way to explore with different kinds of food. I became more open-minded about vegetable-based foods and eating other foods that could replace the protein I wasn’t getting. I already loved tofu but now... I REALLY love it! :) I made so many dishes with tofu and also tofu-based products. Soy became my best friend!
It was a nice change and I actually felt good after eating a meal, knowing that I was consuming more nutrients and less cholesterol. I also have more of an understanding for people who choose to live a vegan lifestyle. It really is a great way to live. Now I can’t promise I won’t ever eat meat again, but I do know for sure that I have found a new way of eating and will definitely be living a vegan lifestyle, if even only partially. :)
RECAP: Here are a few things that I found ESSENTIAL when I started my vegan diet. Hopefully, if you ever choose to live a vegan lifestyle or even just eat vegan, this list will help you out.
Whether it's chocolate, vanilla, sweetened or plain, this is great for baking, cooking, eating with cereal or just drinking plain!
2. SOY YOGURT:
This was basically my sour cream substitute. I used this for baked potatoes, tacos, falafels, etc. It really came in handy!! You can also eat it plain and add a little agave to sweeten it up or eat it with fruit in a parfait.
This was my go-to snack! I always had hummus on hand and I tried a lot of different flavors and loved them all! Great with pita chips, crackers or pretzels. I also used hummus to make vegan quesadillas.
Tofutti cream cheese saved me in the breakfast department because I ate it with my bagels, on toast, with fruit, with jam/peanut butter... it just came in handy! And I have NO idea what everyone is talking about... it tastes like cream cheese to me!!
Vegan or not, broccoli is ALWAYS a staple at my house. I roast it, steam it, boil it, make into soup, cook tempura broccoli, eat it raw in a salad, eat it with pasta... the possibilities are endless.
6. EARTH BALANCE:
This was a good butter replacement. I used it baking, for toast, to sautee, in my baked potato, for everything! And it tastes just like butter.
You can grill it, fry it, add it to veggies, eat it plain, turn it into a sandwich, use silken tofu for baking... it's AMAZING the different ways you can use tofu in a dish!
LASTLY: Ready-to-serve meals from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods saved me A LOT of time when I was planning what to eat. It was a great life-lesson and really changed the way I will eat from now on. I might not always choose the vegan options, but I will DEFINITELY be consuming less meat and animal products. Thanks to all of you who helped me out during this time! It was great to get everyone's tips on a vegan lifestyle!!
I first chopped up my potatoes (blue & yellow), asparagus, broccoli and mushrooms.
Then I spread out all the veggies onto a baking sheet and drizzled it with olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I tossed all the veggies to make sure that everything was thoroughly coated.
Then I baked them at 425 for 20 minutes then lowered the heat to 350 for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the potatoes were cooked through.
This is SO easy to make and can be eaten as a side dish to pasta or with chicken, steak or fish for those of you non-vegans. :)
Today (tonight actually) I also made some vegan mac&cheese because I wanted to use the last of my daiya cheese shreds. When I first started looking for vegan recipes I stumbled across a lot of different recipes for vegan macaroni and cheese. I red the recipe and realized that I had all the ingredients to I decided to make it.
I got the recipe from this blog. The ingredients were as follows:
1 lb macaroni
1 Tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan butter
1 Tbsp flour
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
salt and pepper
2 cups Daiya shreds, plus 1/2 cup for the top
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
Being fully stocked with vegan ingredients, I happened to have everything on hand. I also cut this recipe in half because I only cook for myself. Nobody every wants to try my vegan food lol!
I ended up using brown rice pasta. I cooked the pasta until it was soft enough and drain and rinsed the pasta. I put it into a buttered (Earth Balance soy butter) pan. Then I mixed most of the cheese with the pasta saving a little for the top.
On the stove-top I melted butter, added pepper and salt to taste and then added the flour to make a roux. Once the butter and flour were cooked I added the soymilk stirring constantly with a whisk to avoid clumps. I boiled this mixture and stirred until it became a thick cream.
I took this cream mixture and poured it over the pasta and daiya cheese mixture in the pan.
I mixed all of it until everything was coated in the cream sauce mixture. The recipe calls for panko bread-crumbs but I used whole grain ritz crackers (crushed) because that's what I had on hand. I topped the mixture with my bread-crumbs and the remaining cheese.
I baked this at 350 for 30 minutes. It browned nicely.
This probably would have turned out better if I used a different pasta. Brown rice pasta tends to be more chewy and has a lot of starch when you cook it. Also, I probably should have seasoned with more salt because it came out bland. When I looked at the reviews online, a lot of people said that the extra salt to taste was unnecessary because the daiya cheese is already salty. I think I'll try making this again someday with my modifications. Even still I think it turned out okay.
YAY! DAY 39 COMPLETE!!
The ingredients are literally baking mix, water and cheese. Pretty simple right??
I used Bisquick mix. This is cool because this mix is vegan only using wheat products and some vegetable or sunflower oil. Something like that, I forget EXACTLY what is in it but I know it doesn't contain milk or eggs.
I measured my flour, cheese (for this I used Daiya Cheddar) and water. Then I mixed it until it formed a dough.
I then took a fork and just dropped mounds of the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. These biscuits are called "drop biscuits" because you literally drop the batter onto the pan.
Meanwhile I melted butter and mixed it with dried parsley, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. The recipe calls for onion powder as well but I didn't have any on hand and it tasted fine without it. This butter mixture is for the top of the biscuits when they're freshly baked.
You bake the biscuits at 375 for 10-12 minutes. This made them perfectly cooked and still soft and flaky. Right when they're done baking, take them out and brush the butter mixture on the still-hot biscuits.
These were yummy! And you can't even tell that they're not made with real cheese.
I took Biryani Rice from Trader Joe's
I love these ready-made items because you literally just heat them on the stove with a little veggie oil and they're ready to eat. You don't even have to defrost it.
I also cooked the rest of my vegetable Thai gyoza, also from Trader Joe's
Also, for a little added protein, I cooked a Boca "chicken" patty and cut it into pieces and mixed it into the Biryani rice.
LOL! This was a very jumbled meal but I thought it was pretty good and filling haha!!
After the concert we went to El Farolito in SF. This is a Mexican food place known for their burritos. It's really popular in the city. Anyway, I got a vegetarian burrito that had beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, pico de gallo, guacamole and you make it vegan by asking for no cheese or sour cream. It was REALLY good. I forgot to take pictures of everything this night but here is some music for your hearing pleasure.
(Janet Jackson dedicated this to all her fans that night... LOVE HER!!)
The vegan options are:
And a new fad that I've been seeing at various sushi restaurants is vegetable tempura rolls!
These are all great options that are vegetarian. To make sure they are vegan make sure to ask of they are any fish sauces or oyster flavoring used to make the sauces. And make sure the wrappers for the gyoza/dumplings are made with rice flour only and no egg.
I opted for a whole wheat tortilla. I usually get the tomato though.
I usually get the grilled chicken burrito which is great because grilling meat and veggies is always healthier than frying or sauteeing. Obviously I couldn't have meat but they also have a smoked tofu burrito (which I've had before and it is GREAT) or a vegetarian burrito which I tried. I made it vegan by asking for no cheese or sour cream.
This burrito was GREAT because it had zucchini, red bell pepper, onions, broccoli and carrots.
(my picture quality is bad because I had to use my phone, lol!)
Here is a sample of what their menu looks like. You can check it out on their website: www.360gb.com