Monday, January 28, 2013

Recipe: Creamy Green Smoothie

I get headaches. Lots of headaches. Most of them are pretty low-grade, but I also get migraines on a regular basis. Someone suggested that I try trace minerals as a way to prevent headaches and shorten their length. I'm willing to try pretty much anything at this point, so I purchased a three-month supply (with only the happiest and best of thoughts).

I'm on the fourth day of adding trace minerals to my day... and no headache today (I've had a headache almost consistently from Thanksgiving). I'm optimistic. In full disclosure, I've also started (and had my dosage upped) a prescription to try to break the headaches, so it could be that as well, or the combination of the two. I'm also trying to be really intentional about drinking lots of water, though this hasn't seemed to make any difference in the past.

The trace minerals are a little disgusting-tasting. I tried adding them to water, but it made it taste like really strong well water. No bueno.

So I've been making daily smoothies to put by drops in. I thought tonight's was particularly yummy and tangy, and so I'm sharing. Granted, as I parsed out the calories in this bad boy, it would be a much better breakfast smoothie, but it seemed like a better nutritional choice than the coconut sorbet in the freezer, so we'll call it a win-win.

Creamy Green Smoothie
One large or two small servings. You can use a whole avocado if you want to, just be aware they are quite calorie-laden.

1/2 avocado
2 kiwis, peeled
1/4 cup chopped pineapple (frozen, preferably)
1/3 cup chopped mango (frozen, preferably)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup unsweetened soy, almond, or coconut milk

Pop everything in your blender, adding water as needed until you've reached your desired consistency. If you don't have frozen fruit, you may want to add some ice as well.

Nutritional Information (for 1 serving):
380 Calories
18 grams of fat
8.4 grams of protein
Good source of dietary fiber and iron, and very high in Vitamin C

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Six Months Vegan!

Today marks our six month anniversary of going vegan. I know it isn't a terribly long time, but it's something both Ian and I are very proud of. I also want to say, in case I haven't on this blog: going vegan was a very easy transition.

Six months ago Ian and I decided to not purchase anything that supported the industry of enslaving or killing animals. We both thought it would be difficult and that many things would be hard to give up. Admittedly our process was gradual in that we did finish using non-vegan items we'd purchased beforehand, such as cheese and butter.

In celebrating this landmark, I want to go back and talk a little more about what our transition was like, and what helped and motivated us, and what challenged us as fledgling vegans.

Transitioning to Veganism


Getting Excited About New Recipes: Both of us love to cook, although I'm typically the one in the kitchen at the end of the day whipping up our meals. Part of the adventure I loved about becoming a vegan was learning new ways to prepare old favorites like eggplant, mushrooms, and tofu, and exploring new ways of approaching food, like making cashew cream or using nutritional yeast to add a cheese-like 'pop' to a sauce or dish.

For me, getting on pinterest to find fun recipes and reading through new cookbooks was essential. I would have been much more reluctant to take our commitment to veganism seriously had I not had exciting new recipes to look forward to making and eating. Much like finding an exercise that you love helps you actually get moving, exploring fun and interesting recipes and foods helps you get excited about being a vegan.

Finding Replacements that Work for You: Ian and I didn't struggle with craving meats and dairy items as much as I thought we would. That said, we haven't found a cheese alternative that we love, and we both still drool a little when we pass the gyro cart on our street corner. (However, looking at the hunk of meat that is roasting is a little revolting, and that sensation overrides the positive smell).

I found the book The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman to be a great place to start with finding good replacements for our comfort food. We would have had a difficult time with the changes had we not had some honest-to-goodness comfort food available for meals. For us, this manifested primarily in Soyriso for Trader Joes, sauteed with grated potatoes, salsa verde, and a pinch of nutritional yeast, crammed into tortillas with some fresh greens. Maybe I'll blog about this later - it's seriously yummy and actually decently not-too-bad for you.

When I'm really wanting eggs, I make scrambled tofu.

When I find myself looking longingly at the pastry case at Starbucks or Oren's, waiting for my coffee, I go home and bake up something fabulous that I know is good for my body and the planet.

When I'm craving a cold treat, I grab sorbet or coconut milk ice cream from the corner store. I am also excited to try making frozen banana ice cream this week - yum!.

Locating Weaknesses: This is one of the trickier parts of becoming a vegan; it's hard to know in advance what is likely to trigger a relapse in commitment or positive eating changes. For us, it came down to several things:
  • Eating Out: We love to cook, but when we've had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Ian and I tend to get take out or eat out. While we've cut back to about once a week, it was imperative that we found vegan options for our time in Ann Arbor, and then when we moved back to New York City. 
  • No Time to Cook: We keep about 1-2 meals worth of easy dinners (no more than 15-20 minutes in preparation) in the fridge/freezer at all times.
  • Thinking, Why am I vegan again? Like many convictions, sometimes we need to remind ourselves why we're doing the more difficult thing when everyone else doesn't seem to care. When we first moved back to New York, I sometimes found myself walking past old favorite haunts, like the two bakeries I used to love on Amsterdam Avenue, angry that I couldn't pick up treats any more and trying to remember why veganism mattered at all. To counter-act this and keep myself fervent about veganism and my food choices, I listen to vegan podcasts. My favorites are Vegetarian Food for Thought by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (currently my favorite vegan cookbook author) and Vegan Solutions for a Sustainable Environment (though this one rarely updates, there are some real gems here!). Some other popular podcasts I'm looking forward to trying are So You Want to be a Vegan and Vegan Cooking with Love. I've also watched this fantastic talk by Gary Yourofsky several times.Haven't seen it? You should.
At the end of six months we are happy to be vegans. We are happy to be doing our part for animals, our bodies, and the environment.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Temptation vs. Conviction

Ian flew away for an interview this morning and won't be back until tomorrow night. I finished putting the baby to bed about twenty minutes ago, and just ordered some food for myself online (one of my favorite perks about living in NYC - free delivery from basically anywhere!). As I completed the order, I just realized - I wasn't even slightly tempted by anything with dairy, eggs, seafood, or meat. I ordered my pad thai with vegan mock duck, requesting they omit the eggs, with a side of seaweed-wrapped tofu.

Last time Ian was gone I was seriously tempted to break vegan. There were several times when I looked over pizza menus online, and I remember drooling over the idea of coconut-shrimp.* I spent tons of psychic energy thinking about where I was going to go and what I would eat.

But I didn't. It wasn't even that my own beliefs stopped me from going through with eating animal products (cravings overruled ethics). Rather, I knew that I couldn't hide it from Ian. I'm a terrible liar. I can't keep secrets about gifts before Christmas, and please don't tell me about a surprise party. I'll try to not say anything, but will somehow be obvious in that (I just get so excited!). I knew that Ian would be disappointed. And that made me feel awful. (Of course the moment he arrived home, I confessed my struggle with great shame, because that's who I am).

And this was... a month ago? Maybe two?

I'm not exactly sure why I'm not driving myself crazy this time. Maybe it's that I just got through Christmas without much compromise** in a household where my brothers claim to be carnivores (and it's almost true, these guys eat so much meat) and my dad is on an almost-exclusively protein diet, which mainly consists of meat and dairy. Maybe it's that I had to explain my veganism to several people/relatives over the holidays, which lead to a strengthening of conviction. Perhaps its the documentaries and podcasts on veganism that I'm exposing myself to at least twice monthly. I've also recently stopped craving cheese, and milk and meat are beginning to sound 'gross' to me. It's probably a combination of the above.

It feels good to know what I believe and why I believe it, and tonight, it feels damned fine to be a vegan.

* In the airport on the way to Minneapolis, I did eat a shrimp dish as I could not find any available vegan options, and I personally believe that between eating vegetarian with milk/cheese and eating seafood, seafood is the smaller evil. I must confess, shrimp are still delicious. I'm very sorry, shrimp everywhere.

** I did end up eating sweets with dairy in them twice while visiting family. Ian would say my justification is bunk, but in circumstance #1 it was some trifle that wouldn't be good the next day and was going to be thrown out, and in circumstance #2, I was visiting an aunt's house and there were homemade cookies. So I had two. I really shouldn't have eaten any, but I did.