Tastiest, easiest vegan supper yet

Got home late from the gym and was delighted that Josh made this! (Serves 3 or 4)

1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 cup mushroom broth
2 avocados
Chipotle sauce (whatever sauce you like, really).

Heat first 4 ingredients on the stovetop. While that’s heating, chop up an avocado or two! Drain warm corn & bean mixture, add sauce, top with avocado, season with salt and pepper. Dinner is served, in under ten minutes, and it contains whole protein (beans and corn) and healthy fats (avocado)!

I’m teaching my first real class this semester, and trying to propose my dissertation before the semester ends, so I’m on campus until laaaate these days. Tonight’s delicious bowl of goodness? Perfect for a week like this!

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What do you eat on a plant based diet, anyway?

This seems to be a popular question, so I thought I’d give it a go, with the caveat that I’m new at this and I’m not a registered dietitian, so for the love of your own health, people, don’t take this as advice. Rather, it’s intended as an illustration that I’m not subsisting off of salad.

Breakfast:

Oatmeal with smartbalance (it’s like butter, but plant based), cinnamon and almond butter; banana; COFFEE.

Cereal with almond milk; blueberry smoothie; COFFEE

Tangerine, protein bar, almond milk, COFFEE (always coffee in the morning. always).

Lunch:

Sauteed kale with mushrooms and pecans; quinoa; more almond milk

Bean and corn soup with spinach and tomatoes; tea

Avocado, walnut, hummus & tomato sandwich (I’m also fond of apple and almond butter as a sandwich combo)

Roast sweet potatoes; butternut squash soup

Supper:

Pasta (it’s quinoa based) with tomato basil sauce and mushrooms

Spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce on top! Or pesto! and yes, a salad.

Roast root veggies and a side of leafy greens

Homemade pizza with homemade pesto, portabellos and pine nuts (this is the BEST)

Quinoa with stir fried veggies, topped with soy sauce

Snacks:

I’m big on fresh fruit, dried fruit, hummus on veggies, guacamole and chips, and nuts. I have jars and jars of pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, almonds and pistachios in my kitchen, and they’re my go-to snack and favorite source of fats and proteins. They’re also kind of pricey, so pro tip: buy them in bulk at Whole Foods or another market with bulk foods. Keep them in mason jars for cheap easy storage that will keep them fresh longer.

Desserts:

It turns out that dark chocolate is often vegan, and very easy to find, in my neck of the woods. I have a stash of it hidden in our cupboard where the non-vegan husband won’t find it (he can fend for himself when it comes to dessert, for the time being). So far I’m still taking a break from refined sugar, but on the day that I just need chocolate, it will be there waiting for me.

Yesterday was my one meal out to eat this week, and I went to brunch with friends. Remember, I’m only adhering to a plants-only diet at home – out and about, I’m still eating some animal products, until I get the hang of this new way of eating. I’m easing my way into it. So I had an omelette, with brie, and I loved it – but no more than the stuff I’ve been eating at home. How weird is that? All week I waited for cheese (and eggs. and butter. The lacto-ovo trifecta!), and it turns out that if you eat enough kale, you can grow to like it better than cheese. I think it has something to do with the way I feel after the last six days – I feel really good, and happy.

Also – I think I’m keeping honey, y’all. It turns out I miss it the most (every night while I drink my tea, and don’t even talk to me about stevia as if it’s the same, because no.it.is.not), and it’s not like I consume it to excess, so…I think honey stays. Apparently, this is a huge debate among vegans. I’m interested in improving my health and the state of the planet, not hard line adherence to a set of principles outside my own. So I’m going to stick with the term “(mostly) plant based diet” and avoid labeling myself vegan for the time being, because I don’t want to mislead anyone about how far I’m taking this. For the record, on the day that I think it no longer serves my health or the planet’s, I’m going to try something else. Remember: I’ve only committed through January. When it comes to the end of the month, I’m going to reevaluate and decide whether or not to keep going.

2014 Resolutions

I’m home from a pretty epic Christmas vacation! We traveled to Kentucky to see Josh’s family, then to Asheville to spend New Year’s with mine. We partied hearty on New Year’s Eve, too. We stayed in at my cousins’ house, and after the kids went to bed, we grown ups played a board game called Ticket to Ride, and opened the champagne an hour early because we realized it was unlikely we’d manage to stay awake until midnight. ROCK ON. And you know what? It was an absolutely perfect way to ring in the new year, with some of the people I love the most in the world. Josh and I made some pretty radical resolutions for 2014:

Resolution one: I’m trying the vegan whole foods thing at home. By at home, I mean that I’m going to stick with vegetarian when we’re out on the town or at someone’s home (you’re welcome, Mom and Dad). This is because I lack commitment, and because cheese, people. Cheese. I’m not ready to give it up forever, but I’ve at least parted ways with cheddar and gruyere at home. I’m four days in to the vegan way of life and I LOVE IT. Kale is my new best friend. We were already good buddies, but now? Besties forevs. Josh thought about joining my vegan endeavors, but he has allergies to tree nuts and soy, and I think it would be harder for him to get enough protein with those dietary restrictions, so he’s sticking with vegetarianism at home. Which means there’s still cheese in my house…le sigh. So far I’ve retained the courage of my convictions, but I freely confess that along with a lot of feeling great and happy with my decision, there’s definitely a little bit of withdrawal. And groaking. Do you guys know about groaking? Best word ever, and I’m officially voting we bring it back:

Groaking defined

image from mangabottle.tumblr.com

That dog looks a great deal like my childhood dog, and he’s making pretty much the exact face I make while Josh eats things with butter or cheese. But I feel so much better on a plant based diet that other than a mishap in which I used real butter instead of smartbalance (yes, it was delicious) I haven’t felt the real urge to cheat. The “whole foods” part of this has been harder than the vegan part. I miss soda a bit, and peanut butter. I don’t mean the grind-it-yourself-from-just-peanuts butter. I mean the store bought, creamy, sugary kind. I’ve said I would stick with a whole foods vegan diet for at least a month, and then see how I feel. So far so good!

Resolution 2: We joined the YMCA! Okay, this one’s not such a radical lifestyle change. Chapel Hill/Carrboro has the nicest YMCA ever (it has a sauna, y’all. And racquetball courts!). Although as a grad student I’m entitled to use the university gym, Josh graduated, and he’s my favorite workout buddy. Also, the Y is great because I’m more into working out with old people and children, rather than extra perky 19 year olds in yoga pants (it’s bad for my self esteem) or big bulky dudes (too intimidating). So on our first day home from holiday traveling, we joined the Y, and for now, I’m going every other day. Also, I hurt all over. In a good way. I get a lot of aerobic exercise from biking everywhere in my daily life, but I’ve come to the realization that 30 is a really good time to sign up for some yoga classes (flexibility, unlike strength or stamina, is something you can maintain across your entire lifespan!) and to make friends with the weight machines (because biking really doesn’t do much for upper body strength…) If you’re looking for a gym, I highly recommend the Y. They’re a nonprofit, which means they do good in the community and you don’t have to worry about sketchy fees from cancelling your membership. Also, they really are a community space. The crowd I work out with is a LOT more diverse (in terms of age, SES, race, you name it…) than the crowd at some of the gyms in town.

I’m going to have to rethink my Project 333 wardrobe in light of my new gym membership! So much change, in this bright and promising new year. I know it’s totally cliche to make fitness resolutions, and I should probably be more realistic anyway, but here goes nothing. I’ve got this one body, for the rest of my life, and I figure I ought to take care of it.

for extra fun, I made Resolution Three: This is really really the year I’m going to learn the ukulele! This one might look familiar, since I made it last year. In 2013 I managed to acquire a ukulele, at least…and learned two chords. Here’s to at least two more in 2014!