Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Living a Simpler Mantra - Limiting Choices

I'm out to dinner with my Aunt and cousins in Arizona. Lately, I have been trying to live a simplicity based lifestyle and for the most part, I fall short of the goal, but I'm trying. The restaurant we go to is one I normally avoid. A glittering, monolith of post Y2K consumerism; a Cheesecake Factory. If you've ever been to a Cheesecake Factory you know the menu is extensive. Most of the stuff is filled with meat, cheese and generally things I am trying not to consume. As I peruse the menu, item after item of sumptuous, delectable artery cloggers call out to my former self to get me a gulping.

In April of this year though I made a decision that would limit the rest of my choices as long as I followed through. I went Vegan; or at least Vanessa went vegan and I am along for the ride. In all honesty, what started as a health based decision has turned into a quest to eliminate all animal products from our lives and it has a liberating effect on what we decide to eat and not eat. As well as what we wear and buy in a range of areas.

Becoming a vegan was not easy for me at first. We tried it a year ago, launched this blog and spent 3 months living vegan and suddenly crashed. Some dramatic life changes happened, including moving back to Alaska and now after settling back into our lives we are back to being vegan but with an important change. This time it's not just for us, it's for the animals. It started with health again but after doing some research and watching some pretty gnarly movies we are in it whole hog and Vanessa even ditched her makeup to get the cruelty free kind. And all of this has been intensely liberating.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Week of Pigging Out: Pizza, Pasta and Pancakes

So this past week was a vacation week for Vanessa and me.   Instead of being good little newbie vegans and living a plant based extravaganza, we went nuts the white way.  The white flour way that is.  So the last week was spent with pizza, pasta and mad fresh pancakes…lots and lots of pancakes with drippy and sweet blueberry compote. 
I don’t know what it is but sometimes I can’t help myself.  Three days it seemed like we ate nothing but pasta…pasta with tomato sauce with some bread crumbs and olive oil mixed in.  With breaded fried eggplant; holy sweet lord that was delicious. 
 Everything was delicious and awesome but the one area that wasn’t kind to me was that damned bathroom scale.  I started the week off at 214 but ended the week at 215. 


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chipotle Again?

Vanessa and I have been going through a repeat performance lately revolving around where to dine out.  Now it's hard because we have been trying to save money and have not wanted to spend a lot of dough at restaurants but we do love restaurants and since going vegan it has become harder and harder to find good places to go.  So we usually end up at Chipotle.  The vegetarian burrito bowl with all the goodies (no cheese or sour cream of course) is by far the easiest and tastiest vegetarian option so of course we end up there constantly. 

With corn salsa and guacamole - yum!

However, we also have a daily debate about trying to go somewhere else so last night we went to Smashburger.  Of course being brand new vegans we had a very limited selection but since we go through the consistent debate of "chipotle again?!?"  and Smashburger is literally right next door to Chipotle in our neighborhood.  So we tried it...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What’s up with brown food?

Last week on Father's Day, Vanessa and I went to my grandparents’ house for a BBQ.  Since Mother’s Day last month, we have learned to bring our own “gear” to family dinners: black bean salad, homemade hummus, corn chips, carrots, celery, black bean burgers and whole wheat pitas.  Interesting enough, we noticed that the family was eating brown food. Nothing consisted of any color. The hotdogs, chicken and hamburgers. Everything was brown besides the American cheese and ketchup, which as we know is only artificially colored. 
Not much color here
How is that good? It certainly doesn’t look appealing compared to what Vanessa and I brought with us. Besides the beans and pitas, all of the food we brought with us is naturally colorful.  I guess color doesn’t matter in regards to taste. Who really cares if our black bean salad with tomatoes, cilantro and corn is prettier than a piece of grilled chicken?  However, after eating veg for a month, my eyes are still drawn to my veggies, black bean salad and roasted pepper hummus. That looks like food. Everyone tried our black bean salad, hummus and veggies, and loved it, but also loved the brown food.  Dessert was also interesting.  A couple of my aunts brought dessert. Blueberry pie, éclairs, cookies, and an Oreo cream cake. Oh boy! In the past, I certainly would have tried a little of each. It was quite a spread like it normally is at family gatherings. This time was obviously different since I’m trying to lose 40 lbs. and trying eliminate the possibility of ever having to prick myself in the finger every day for the rest of my life.  My mother who is looking to surgically remove 85% of her stomach to shed her lb’s brought a huge bowl of fruit salad.  She is supporting my choice to go veg, since I have dropped a bowling ball’s worth of fat and couldn’t be happier. No whipped cream in this fruit salad, just chopped up watermelon, grapes, blueberries and strawberries. I pigged out. At least two or three helpings. Completely satisfied. Didn’t even miss the other stuff.  Mom also enjoyed the fruit salad, as did mostly everyone, but also enjoyed a little each of the brown desserts on the table. Insane!!! What is up with people and brown food? Let’s move on from the brown food, and on to the prettier, mad fresher food! 


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Vegan Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

Sunday mornings for Vanessa and I were always a treasure trove of pancakes, eggs and bacon; lots and lots of bacon!  But since going veg last month we have been searching for new options for our Sunday morning breakfasts and this past week was no different.  So we made these beautiful vegan pancakes with blueberry compote...delicious!  No eggs, no butter.  Instead of butter we used some organic smart balance(100% vegan) and in place of an egg we used half a banana.  To tell you the truth I think I might like these pancakes better than the old ones with egg and butter.  To make it even healthier use whole wheat flour and leave out the vegetable oil, but these are pretty sweet as is! 

These pancakes were delicious and healthy, a real treat!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Flipping the Switch: Meatballs and Sausage to Blackbean Burgers

Beginnings are hard.  At first it seems like every decision is impossibly difficult, especially when it comes to being a vegan or vegetarian.  Vanessa and I had arguments over whether to buy crackers that had a label which stated “produced on machinery which make contain traces of dairy products.”  Agony. This is never going to last.

 But let me back up…

For the first 30 ½ years of my life I was the poster boy of spaghetti and meatballs Italian-American. Typical Sunday dinners consisted of veal scaloppini, at least three or four meatballs and of course rigatoni with tomato sauce covered in my favorite Romano cheese.
Halfway through, I’d throw on more cheese. I couldn’t enjoy every bite unless I could taste the cheese.  In addition to my usual Sunday dinners, I loved (and still love) sausage and pepper sandwiches, baked ziti, pepperoni, provolone and of course pizza.  Lunches normally consisted of leftovers, a bagel with cream cheese, a double cheeseburger off the dollar menu, or a grilled stuffed burrito from Taco Bell. The results were clear.  I was in firm possession of a body like Tony from the Sopranos where fitness seemed like a long ago childhood memory.  The funny thing is I wanted to lose weight, so I’d cut down for a couple of weeks after I lost a couple of pounds, but then go back to McDonalds when I didn’t know what to have for lunch. Ahhh it’s only 400 calories for my favorite double cheeseburger, and it’s only a dollar. I’ll go on a walk later, and it’ll be all good according to my fitness pal app.  Usually the walks would be once, but twice a week, and maybe I could have just maintain my weight from getting past 230 lbs.  A change was in order.

Vanessa needs were not quite as dramatic.  She was in the healthy BMI range without exercising and had no obvious food issues.  However, just below the surface was a raging sugar and caffeine addict that best not be messed with.  Every morning was met with coffee and bizarre combinations of artificial sweeteners and cream.  A night without dessert was met with sighs of disappointment and a late night run for a pre-sliced piece of carrot cake that would only be half eaten.   Maybe we could both benefit from a switch.