Observations

One of the things I noticed during #Veganuary is how much meat and dairy products are advertised in comparison to whole, plant based food.

I think I first noticed it when watching tv. Normally I watch things on the dvr and skip the commercials but for some reason I was watching something live and the amount of commercials advertising *pure crap* to eat really astounded me.

I say *pure crap* not in judgment of what anyone else chooses to eat, but out of frustration for myself. When I’m trying to make a healthy change and seeing nothing but fast food burgers and assorted other meat and dairy offerings without a single solitary option that doesn’t include either it gets very frustrating.

Then, driving my normal commute to and from work I started noticing all the billboard signs and how all of them were advertising meat or dairy menus.

It suddenly seemed that everywhere I turned was an ad for a burger, breakfast sandwich or steak. Not once did I see an ad for a healthy salad or plant based meal.

Which brings me to another observation. When going out to eat, salads should be a pretty basic option, right? And, for the most part they are… however… almost every salad has meat and dairy in it, and the price reflects that. If I were to order the salad without all that, I’d be left with nothing very appetizing because there would be hardly anything left beyond some iceberg lettuce and I’d still be charged that higher price. For the record, iceberg is my least favorite salad.

I’d love to see more Buddha bowl type offerings with vegan options and the price might be justified then.

It shouldn’t be that hard to go out and have some menu options free of meat and dairy. It does seem like more and more places are offering more options… unfortunately where I live those places are far and few between.

Test Time!

Good Morning!

So I made it through #Veganuary and, honestly, it was much easier than I thought it would be! And then I went back to the SAD and have felt like crap.

I think I have enough evidence to prove to myself that my body does not like dairy (lactose intolerant) but it also doesn’t care for meat.

At first, going back to the SAD was okay, which surprised me. I thought there might be some immediate reaction to it. Plus I started with pretty unhealthy choices, such as a spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s, chicken lunchmeat and even bacon. I even had my standard breakfast go to from the past, a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit from McD’s.

The results? My overall mood began dipping. I lacked energy. Life in general seemed more dull. I wasn’t sleeping as well. I felt bloated. I had headaches again.

Sure, it was super convenient to be able to run through the drive thru and eat whatever. But overall it just doesn’t feel worth it. I’m not promising I’ll always eat a perfect vegan diet, but I do think I’m going to at least attempt to keep eating that way. The benefits don’t lie!

What are some of your favorite vegan websites, blogs and Instagram accounts? YouTube channels, too? I’m loving finding new recipes to try and plan on putting together a recipe book throughout this year of vegan recipes I find that I like, or adaptations to old favorites once I’ve “veganized” them. Pinterest and instagram and YouTube have been wonderful for me so far!

One thing I’m still struggling to find is an iron supplement that’s vegan and won’t make me feel nauseous. Recommendations are welcome!

White Chili

One of my favorite recipes to make is White Chicken Chili. It is so good! So, during Veganuary I just knew that I had to try to veganize the recipe. I don’t have any fancy pictures to share, just a good recipe that I promise you will be happy you tried!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil (optional)
  • 2 cans (15 oz) great northern beans
  • 14 oz Vegetarian Better Than Bouillon® No Chicken Base (certified vegan)
  • 2 cans (4 oz) chopped green chilies
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 8 oz plant based sour cream (Simple Truth)
  • 1/2 cup dairy free whipping cream (Silk)

Directions

Put all ingredients in crock pot and simmer for several hours. I ate it with Late July Organic Sea Salt & Lime Tortilla Chips.

This recipe is very forgiving. You can add as much beans or liquid as you want to make it as thick or soupy as you like.

Mid-Month Veganuary

It’s January 18th and I’ve made it halfway through the month, successfully I might add. Last weekend I ended up organizing my pantry, which seems to be a never-ending project. Amazingly enough, there really wasn’t much in it that wasn’t vegan, so yay!

Some mid-month observations:

  • Eating vegan was easier than I thought it would be.
  • Cravings are manageable.
  • Organization, planning and preparation are important.
  • There are a ton of supportive resources.
  • It’s helpful to have some convenience items around so you aren’t tempted to grab fast food.

Something I’ve observed in some of the groups I’ve joined is that a lot of people have very un-supportive people in their lives that want to question them and give them a hard time about their food choices. Personally, the way I managed this was to not tell everyone what I was doing, but instead, when the topic of food came up, I might mention that I am avoiding meat and dairy this month and remind people I am lactose intolerant.

I did mention it to some people I work with because we were deciding on where to eat and one of the restaurants mentioned was Italian and when I looked at their menu they had no vegan or DF options. Everything had cheese. We ended up going to a Mexican place and the server misheard me when I said I wanted my bean burritos with red sauce no cheese and brought me burritos with cheese, no red sauce. I was going to try to pick the cheese off, but my coworker friends actually encouraged me to send it back and were very supportive, so all of that to say that so far I have encountered mostly support and just the usual questions.

This morning I placed my second Thrive Market order and there are several new to me things in it. I found a recipe to make vegan sushi so I ordered all the fixin’s to try making it. It sounds sooooo good! I also ordered some other snacky stuff to help curb some cravings I’ve had.

I’ve also been using Cronometer to track my meals so I can see what nutrients I need to “beef up on” (pun intended, ha ha!). It’s been pretty useful and I do plan on keeping an eye on things. Ideally I’d love to get ALL of my nutrients from food, but until I am eating enough of those things to hit all my marks, supplements and vitamins will have to do.

At this point I’m feeling pretty positive about the way things are going and I don’t see going back to how I was eating before this month any time soon. What I’d love to find now, though, is some information on how long you have to abstain from meat and dairy to reap ALL of the benefits from not consuming them. There are a lot of random websites of “testimonials” from people touting “this is what happened when I stopped eating meat” but what I want is a more trusted, medical site that actually gives a timeline of how long it takes a body to rid itself of all the meat and dairy previously consumed. No offense, but a lot of the sites I am seeing are selling a particular diet or food plan or veganism in general. I’m not wanting to be sold on anything, I just want the facts, please!

I think the most frustrating part of this whole thing is that I can’t shop at just one place for everything. I guess I’d have the problem no matter what, though. 🙂

New Year, New Recipes

I spent the morning cutting, washing and prepping all the fruits and veggies I bought yesterday and then this afternoon tried my first ever buffalo cauliflower! It was seriously SO GOOD!!I’m going to have to make this at least once a week. I’m guessing it’s not SUPER healthy since it has butter (I used plant based almond butter by Country Crock) but you only live once!! It crisped up so good in the oven under the broiler, too. The only thing I will do different the next time is to cut the larger pieces up into more bite sized pieces. They are easier to manage and they crisp up better. I noticed the difference between the sizes right away since I had several large pieces and several small. I did an entire head of cauliflower and doubled the sauce recipe. I think I could probably not double the sauce and there would be plenty. I skipped the bread crumbs but did add the flour and a little almond milk. I also sprinkled them with some salt and pepper. Without further ado, here’s the recipe! Buffalo Cauliflower Wings: https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2019/06/27/buffalo-cauliflower-wings-recipe/

Weekend Vegan Haul

Kroger Haul

I decided to run by Kroger on my way home after work for some produce and ended up getting quite a few things to try. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I found. Vegan/DF mayo, shredded mozz, sour cream, and cream cheese to name a few things.

As I try some of these new items, I’ll review them here and let you know my thoughts on them. Honestly, I’m not holding out high hopes that I will love them all, but I am hoping that I do find some comparable alternatives that will suffice.

I did manage to get plenty of fresh produce and fruit, and I did find a vegan dressing for my salads. I think tomorrow I may go through and attempt to organize my food pantry a little. My husband is willing to try some of these new foods, but he isn’t necessarily giving up everything he enjoys, so I kind of want to separate the food and organize it all so it’s easier for each of us to find what we want.

One of the most helpful things I have found is the app called “Is It Vegan?” It allows you to scan barcodes of food items and tells you whether or not it is vegan and lists all the ingredients and separates out the problematic ingredients. So far there has only been two items that it didn’t recognize. What apps do you use that help you evaluate ingredients? Leave a comment below!

Veganuary

First Thrive Market order.

So I decided to attempt to participate in #veganuary. Essentially it’s going vegan for the month of January. I’m also going dairy free (which I think is automatically included in veganism) but it’s something I really need to make a part of my way of eating for life, as I’m lactose intolerant and I think I’d feel a lot better if I stopped eating/drinking it.

Honestly, it’s been a lot easier to adopt this way of eating than I thought it would be. I did join Thrive Market, which makes shopping for vegan food items a snap. I’ve bought some of what they call vegan “junk food”, sure, but I’m also looking at ways to eat a more plant based whole food diet in addition to the vegan, dairy free way of eating.

The best part of doing this so far is discovering new foods that I am LOVING.

  • Koyo Garlic Pepper Reduced Sodium Ramen
  • Dr. McDougall’s Clear Noodle Gluten Free Hot & Spicy
  • Green Mountain Gringo Hot Salsa
  • Late July Jalapeno Lime Tortilla Chips
  • Late July Organic Sea Salt Tortilla Chips
  • Thrive Market Organic Protein Pancake & Waffle mix
  • Silk Almond Milk Creamer
  • Almond Milk
  • Daiya Dairy Free Cheese Lover’s Pizza
  • Daiya Deluxe Cheezy Mac Cheddar Style
  • Daiya Deluxe Cheezy Mac Alfredo Style
  • Country Crock Plant Butter Sticks with Almond Oil
  • Earth Balance Original buttery spread
  • Limitless caffeinated carbonated water

I’ve also tried jackfruit, but the particular bbq flavor I had I didn’t care for. I’d like to find some plain jackfruit so I can season it up how I want. The texture will take some getting used to, but I think I can do it.

About the Daiya cheese pizza and mac & cheese… both are ok. Will take some getting used to, but definitely decent. I think finding adequate cheese replacements will probably be the hardest thing I will have to do and it may just be a case of reducing how much “cheese and butter” I eat. I’d really like to find their cream cheese and try it. I’ve also ordered a Thrive Market brand Parmesan cheese to try.

There are also some staple food items I’ve bought. Egg replacer, different types of flour, coconut aminos, B12 vitamins, to name a few. This morning I made my husband & I some of the protein pancakes (above) and I even used freshly ground flax seed like it called for, and we both really enjoyed them.

I’d say one of the most frustrating parts about eating any particular “diet” is the fact you still can’t go to just ONE store to get everything you want or need. I made an order with Thrive Market last week, plus had to order the McDougall’s noodles from Amazon and the Koyo ramen from Kroger. The store I originally found and bought the Late July chips and the Green Mountain Gringo Salsa (also where I got the McDougall’s noodles and Koyo ramen) literally announced they are closing the week after I bought that stuff. I did find the Late July chips at a local Kroger, so that made me happy, and Thrive Market also carries them. I just wish I could spend less time putting together shopping orders and going to the grocery to get everything I want or need.

Tomorrow I’m heading to the store after work to stock up on some fresh produce for the week. I’m hoping to find some dairy free, vegan salad dressing so I can make some salads. I’m doing great on starchy foods but need more fresh produce and fruits. If you have a salad dressing that you can recommend, please share in the comments below. I like Green Goddess, Ranch, 1000 Island, any type of vinaigrette, etc. I’m willing to try some new flavors out as well.

Introducing Betsy

I did a thing. I bought a sewing machine. It’s a nifty Brother HC1850, and I named her Betsy. She’s already unboxed and sitting pretty on my table but I haven’t plugged her in yet. I still need to buy her some thread and more bobbins. Once I have them, I’ll fire her up, fill some bobbins up and gaze at her with loving wonder as I patiently wait for my fabric to arrive.

Some background. I had a sewing machine as a child. My next door neighbor attempted to teach me how to sew, as did my grandmother and my aunt. I vaguely recall making a felt poodle skirt, sans poodle. I don’t necessarily recall enjoying sewing at that age, but I’m hoping that it was just an age thing because lately making my own stuff has been very appealing to me.

I do have some projects planned out.

  • burrito pillowcases
  • rope bowls
  • kitchen towels
  • soap socks
  • aprons
  • dresses
  • cardigans

I have the supplies on the way for the pillowcases. I may run by the store on the way home today to get some thread, good sewing shears, pinking shears, and some more bobbins and universal needles. Heck, I may as well go ahead and get some rope and contrasting thread for the rope bowls.

If you are also new to sewing and want to follow along, feel free to subscribe. If you are on Instagram, I do share pictures there under @couchnest.sips.and.sews. Right now it’s heavy on sewing supplies because I am still buying a lot of what I need. As I get started on projects there will be more pictures focusing on those projects. I’ll do my best to respond to comments below, so feel free to reach out and connect!