Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Flirting with veganism

Jeremy and have experimented with vegetarianism in the past and did  quite well for about 6 months or so.  In the summer, we usually grow a nice little garden and eat a bit healthier from it for a few months.  We have also experienced some truly unhealthy habits of Red Baron pizzas, potato chips, McDonald's, and Kraft mac n cheese. 

I remember a long time ago stumbling across Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet and her website The Kind Life.  I remember thinking the whole vegan thing was a little too extreme for me.  It seemed really expensive, really complicated, and really time consuming.  Every vegan recipe I stumbled across would have required me to go out and buy several new (weird) ingredients.  We've wanted to change our diets to something doable and healthy, but we haven't been ready to seriously make the leap.

Recently, my friend Kristen came to visit.  She has been vegan for less than a year, and I had already had a few conversations with her about her new diet.  It was so helpful for her to visit, bring some of her favorite resources, and just chat about the positive impacts of a diet without meat and dairy products.  

Her visit really impacted us, and we decided that it may be too much for us to jump head first into a meatless, dairy-less, organic, whole foods diet, but we do have a plan to make this change in phases.  We have found some helpful documentaries and books that we have dug into over the past three weeks, and we have (mostly) been eating vegan!  

Here are the first changes we wanted to make:

1.)  No meat
2.)  Less dairy
3.)  Less eggs
4.)  Avoid buying products with refined sugar products in the ingredient list
5.)  Buy organic when possible

So what does all this diet change have to do with adoption and Ivelina?  A lot, actually!  We all know that dyes, added sugar, and processed junk are bad for kids (and adults too).  From what we know of Ivelina and her special needs, we think a healthy diet will just be a basic foundation for improving her health.  Any ADHD symptoms, developmental delays, and emotional issues would be at least partially improved by eating a healthy plant-based diet with little additives, sugars, and dyes.  We figure if Ivelina comes home and we are already accustomed to our healthier lifestyle, it will be much easier to help her love healthy foods too!  What we eat is just a no-brainer, easy thing that we can control about our health.  In addition, if we are eating well, our bodies will in turn be healthier, stronger, and more energetic allowing us the ability to keep up with our energetic little gal!

Here are some winning dishes from these first two weeks of our new diet!

For a REALLY yummy snack, I was impressed with this one.  First off, I bought roasted red pepper hummus and I have been dipping everything in it this month!  This photo shows original Triscuits topped with hummus topped with Kale chips that I made myself.  The flavor combinations were amazing with this snack!  That's 100% grapefruit juice to drink.

I'm in love with my homemade peanut butter granola!  For breakfast I cut up bananas, fresh peaches, or blueberries (or whatever fruit you like), top it with granola, and use unsweetened almond milk to make a healthy bowl of cereal.  The granola is already sweetened with honey, so it creates yummy cereal milk!

I made a pretty big amount of brown rice and beans at the beginning of the week, and we ate on them all week.  I used organic brown rice and canned organic black beans.  This is a very filling meal and warms up nicely!  We ate it with some corn chips, watermelon, and broccoli slaw. 

By the end of week one I was in serious need of something sweet. Jeremy loves apple pie, so I found a recipe for a healthy one.  This is made from apples, vanilla, cinnamon, honey or maple syrup, oats, and vegan butter.  It was A LOT less sweet than the store bought pies, but you can actually taste the flavor of the sweet apples, and the oat crust is really tasty too. 

Jeremy made these!  I call them roasted veggie bundles.  You can totally customize these for whatever kinds of veggies you love.  Around here, gardens are brimming with corn, squash, tomatos, and beans!  For our bundles, we chopped up fresh carrots, green beans & squash from the garden, fresh broccoli, and fresh corn off the cob.  Pile a mixture of veggies, enough for one serving, onto a square of tinfoil and season with whatever you like plus a drizzle of Olive oil.  Cinch them up and pop them on the grill or in the oven on 400 degrees for 40 minutes or so. Serve over rice!

Taco Salad!  A little vegan cornbread topped with beans, corn, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce.  Yum!

This margarita pizza was one of our favorite meals this month!  I followed a recipe for the crispy wheat crust then topped it with tomato sauce, tapioca cheese, spinach, and tomatoes soaked in lime juice.  It was delish!

I have found that Asian dishes are the best go-to plant-based meal.  We had rice noodles topped with teriyaki vegetable stir fry and tofo.  (This was my first time trying tofo.  It was ok, but I need to do more reading on how best to cook it.) We also made a big bowl of garlic mashed potatoes to go with all our meals this week.

Some truths I have learned while experimenting with a plant-based diet:

1.)  Our grocery bill has not increased.  Yes, the organic stuff costs more and, yes, we are buying more items from the produce section (which can be pricier) but there are so many grocery aisles we aren't going down, that it all evens out for us! 

2.) Vegan cooking is fun!  When I wanted an apple pie and decided to make my own, it involved more effort and time to make one from scratch rather than opening up a Mrs. Smith's pie, but I really think I appreciate my food more when I know the exact ingredients and the amount of time I put into the dish.  It's fun and rewarding to make my own food more than I go out and buy it pre-made!

3. Everything has sugar in it!  Seriously, when you actually start looking at labels and ingredient lists, there is some major junk in our most common foods.  We are still consuming some sugar but in much smaller amounts.  We've also really started looking at ingredient lists on the back of items we buy to make sure there are no artificial sweeteners.  My favorite gum has aspartame I discovered!

4.)  Plant-based diets may limit some things from my diet, but I have found that I am eating a greater variety of foods than I ever have before.  At the end of the day, I sometimes think back and count the different fruits of veggies I had that day, and I can usually count about 15 different ones!  For me, that's a BIG change in a positive direction!  I've bought so many new things too such as kale, mushrooms, tofu, locally made honey, stevia leaves, and rice noodles.  I still have only barely scratched the surface of the variety I could be eating; I know I will only continue to discover more and more unique, tasty foods as I branch out and learn more about plant-based diets.

5.) We are not perfect people, and we do not expect ourselves to eat perfectly.  We simply want to be more aware of what is in our foods, and we want to lean more toward plant-based foods rather than meat & dairy-based foods.  I love ice cream, so I cannot say that I will never again eat dairy-based ice cream.  We just want to make these occasions a special treat rather than a twice daily habit (yes, one of us ate ice cream twice a day sometimes...ahem).

Thanks for reading!  I don't plan on blogging about diet and vegan stuff very often, but it's been a big part of our July, so I wanted to mention it.  I'm also new at this and would appreciate any good tips or recipes you have to offer.  Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or advice about eating a plant-based diet!

Shout out to my hubby who kicked the soft drink habit cold-turkey this month!!!  (Did you know one regular soft drink has about three times the amount of sugar that a person should consume in an entire day?)  Way to go honey!


  1. The food looks yummy. Kudos for making a big change.

    Be prepared to run into push-back from pediatric specialists when they ask you about Ivelina's diet. When I say GFDF for Rex, I always get at least an exasperated "Why?"

  2. oh yes, I'm sure you do Viviane. We all do what we know is best for our kiddos. I hope we can find a doctor for Ivelina who appreciates the power of diet. Thanks for the warning though. =)


Leave some love