Apologies and Addendums

First, my apologies for the lack of a post on Wednesday. We’re still in the grieving process over here and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything. I also didn’t do the weigh-in because we’ve been eating far from healthy and–sadly–broken vegan a few times over the course of the week. It’s just so much easier when you don’t feel like cooking your own food, which is unfortunate. We both feel terrible about that, and have rededicated ourselves to the vegan lifestyle.

There are bumps in every road.

Secondly! After more experimentation (I found the casserole I originally posted a little bland for my tastes) I’d recommend the following additions to the crumble and the sweet potatoes:

Crumble:

  • 1/4 cup cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup ginger

Sweet Potatoes:

  • 1/2 cup cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup ginger
  • 1/8 cup chili powder

Also, trying it with the applesauce at 4 ounces to replace two eggs, it works wonderfully. So no need to go buy egg replacer if you don’t have it already! I know this post comes a little late for Thanksgiving and would have been better suited for Wednesday, but I wanted to make sure I shared with you guys.

 

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Sorry about not getting this post up yesterday, I had an evening interview with Big Brother, Big Sister then did some antique shopping. By the time I got home I was exhausted and, I am not ashamed to admit, I fell asleep at my desk while the images were uploading for this post. I feel like such an old man, haha.

But without any further adieu, I present my vegan sweet potato casserole recipe! My fiancee offers her apologies, she was under the weather so didn’t make the curry bake I was talking about. But she has promised she will make it sometime this weekend, so I’ll post that recipe up on Monday most likely. As for the casserole, it was a huge hit at the potluck. I got two small portions and she got one, the rest of it was gone within about 15 minutes despite the fact that there were at least three other sweet potato casseroles there. Who says non-vegans don’t like vegan food? šŸ˜‰

Anyway, on to some pics/recipe!

To start with you’ll need to peel some sweet potatoes. Four or five big ones (I did six, but I made an extra portion for myself to try before I took it to work … you know, for science!). I would also like to take this opportunity to stress how very much I LOATHE peeling vegetables…

Once peeled, cut them into chunks and boil them for 25-30 minutes (or until fork tender).

EDIT: Please see below plus THIS post for an addendum I made to the crumble and sweet potato recipes below.

While those are boiling, get out the handy dandy food processor and prep the pecan crumble topping that will eventually go on top. Ingredients are:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup AP flour (I use gluten free because my fiancee has celiac disease, but any all purpose flour will work)
  • 1/3 cup melted “buttery spread” (you know, the vegan-friendly margarine stuff)

Chop up the pecans first.

Add the brown sugar and flour.

Combine until a slightly chunky powder.

Mix in the melted butter until you get a slightly sticky, clumpy topping.

Now on to the sweet potatoes… Once they’re fork tender remove them from the water and process into mashed sweet potatoes with:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted “buttery spread”
  • 1/2 cup soymilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Egg replacer equivalent to 2 eggs (3 teaspoons powder, 4 tablespoons warm water; mixed together in a separate container before adding to the sweet potatoes)–you can also use applesauce instead of eggs, online says to use 1/4 cup per egg but my fiancee typically uses 2 tablespoons per egg and it works well.

All blended together and moved into the casserole dish… I like putting lines in the top so that the crumble settles down into it a little bit better, and I’m kind of odd about aesthetics.

The crumble recipe I gave you above is too much for one usage. Maybe should’ve pointed that out at the start so you can adjust accordingly. I only used about half to 2/3rds of it, sprinkled over top in a solid layer. Then bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes or until well-browned and crunchy on top.

Since this was for a work potluck I put a few raw pecans on top after it came out of the oven–I think it both helps the presentation and also serves as a nice visual cue for people with pecan allergies to avoid the dish.

Surviving Thanksgiving

So we’re a couple of weeks out from Thanksgiving here in the states and this will be my first as a vegan. It will be difficult. My mother’s dressing is amazing, but it also has turkey and turkey stock in it. The turkey itself is of course always the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. Thanksgiving is probably the hardest holiday for a vegan–at least I think it will be for me.

All hope is not lost, however! There are vegan/vegetarian options for Thanksgiving, and I’ll be trying my hand at veganizing a few traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Last year I made an awesome vegan-friendly sweet potato casserole, and I shall be creating that again this year for my office’s Thanksgiving potluck at the end of this week. The fiancee is planning to make a curry bake–a less traditional Thanksgiving option for sure but still delicious.

Later this week I’ll post up the sweet potato casserole recipe and some pictures of it. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite vegan-friendly Thanksgiving dishes?

 

Parents meet; Xbox controller and Leo Strauss are casualties.

This evening my parents and my fiancee’s parents met for the first time. We all had dinner together over at her parents’ house and I think it went well. Her mother was very nice and prepared several vegan-friendly options for us, such as a TVP and rice casserole, some delicious grilled veggies, baked potatoes, and a great chocolate-banana oatmeal cake. It’s great that she did too, because we were going to bring something vegan just to be safe but totally spaced on making it last night. Whoopsie.

It would be nice to say that her parents were always so supportive of her vegan diet, but it’s great that they’ve come around. My parents are relatively supportive, but it isn’t like they really have much choice in the matter considering I’m in my late twenties and not living with them. The one concern my dad harps on, and given my family history it is a valid one, is making sure I get enough B12. My grandfather later in life suffered from major B12 absorption issues that the doctors believe contributed to him developing dementia and other ailments in his last several years. Apparently that sort of issue can be genetic, and as any vegan can tell you it can be very difficult to get a significant quantity of B12 in foods from anything but animal sources.

In case you didn’t know (I didn’t until recently), this isn’t because animal sources are inherently the only place we can get B12. It isn’t proof of a need for meat in our diet. Rather, it is a result of our modern farming methods–we work the ground so hard to produce such huge quantities of certain crops, and as a result the soil becomes fatigued and is no longer replenished naturally with B12 that then becomes integrated into the plants grown in that soil. In healthy, vibrant soil there is plenty of B12 available to create plants that match the B12 needs of human beings.

Anyway, on to the casualties… When we got home we discovered that Abigail decided she wanted to destroy quite a few things around the house after she freed herself from her crate in some as-yet-to-be-determined manner. Among the dead were my copy of The City and Man, a wireless xbox controller, and some sandals. Injured were two remotes and a couple of pairs of sandals. Could’ve been worse, but she’s certainly proven she can’t be left unsupervised quite yet. Shame too, because I was planning on letting her stay out tonight while we slept since she’d been stuck in her crate all day.

Wednesday Weigh-In

As I kind of expected, feeling better meant I started eating more and my weight bounced back a bit, 245. But that’s okay, because now I’m actually feeling well enough to exercise.

Not much time for a post this evening, so I’ll leave you with a picture of the dinner I made the other night.

ImageVegan chili (beans, lots of spices, some TVP, etc.) over white rice with a ranch-like sauce made from vegenaise on top. Tasty on a chilly night, even if it isn’t quite the Texas Red Chili of my youth.

Going green

Feeling much better now, and will be FINALLY starting couch-to-5k today after work. I’m excited to get exercising, and I think it will really help my metabolism/weight loss. In that regard, I need all the help I can get because my metabolism kind of sucks, not going to lie.

Part of that is my own fault though; I’ve never been a breakfast person (only within the last year or so would I even go so far as to call myself any form of a “morning person”). I love breakfast foods, but not before like 11am. Any earlier than that and my body just says, “dude, not up yet, quit trying to put food in me.” It’s a problem I need to change, and right now the best way I can work in to change that is to jumpstart my days by going green–green smoothies, that is!

Not the most appealing looking substance, I’ll admit, but packed full of nutrition and other benefits… This one was made with a handful of baby spinach, a bunch of kale, two apples, and some vanilla soy milk. I don’t have one every morning, but I’m going to try to have one at least 3-4 times a week. Eventually maybe my body will be trained to expect a morning meal and it will become a daily thing.

Do you have a favorite green smoothie recipe? What about just a favorite (mostly healthful) breakfast? Post them up in the comments, I could always use more ideas for ways to get the day started.

A special WORLD VEGAN DAY post! – Bibimbap “Meguk-style”

First and foremost I want to wish you all a very happy World Vegan Day!

This is my first since I just turned vegan a few months ago, and it is great to see the growing number of vegans (such as myself) and the increasing knowledge of that for which vegans stand. What’s not to love about a healthy, cruelty-free diet, right? But I understand it’s a hard transition for some, for example I would never in a million years expect my parents to go vegetarian, let alone vegan (though Dad doesn’t like milk or eggs–so at least there’s that…I guess).

Another great thing about the proliferation of the vegan diet into the mainstream is the fact that within five minutes drive of the office there are TWO vegan friendly restaurants we can go to for lunch! Both are Asian-oriented, as so much vegan food is (which I love, by the way), and both introduced us to a Korean dish named bibimbap. According to wikipedia, it is:

[…] a signature Korean dish. The word literally means “mixed rice”. Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautĆ©ed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It can be served either cold or hot.

One of the two restaurants is a vegan buffet, which is amazing and offers a cold version. While this is delicious, I prefer the hot version served at the other restaurant that, while not vegan, offers vegan-friendly options in both type of bibimbap and sauces. My fiancee’s favorite is the Vietnamese peanut sauce; I’m torn between that and the Thai sweet chili lime sauce. Suffice it to say, they know us by name at both establishments.

Eventually I decided, hey, I can make this at home! Seems easy enough! I’ve made several variations and tried a few different sauces, but for our home bibimbap, which I call Meguk-style because Meguk is the Korean word for the United States, the peanut sauce seems to work best.

Some say that, in a bit of folk etymology, this is why soldiers during the Korean war began calling the Koreans ‘gooks’ (which has now, of course, become a bit of a racial slur)–when they saw the American soldiers they would run up yelling, “Meguk! Meguk!”–‘American! American!’ And of course we being the pompous people we are, we assumed they were speaking to us in English and identifying themselves as ‘gook.’ I don’t know if that’s the officially theory or anything, but it’s one I’ve heard. It’s fun to be open to new ideas, even if sometimes they lead you to discussing racial slurs on a vegan blog.

Such is life!

Anyway! So here is my vegan, Meguk-style bibimbap!

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First off, the peanut sauce. The recipe I more-or-less followed can be found at Fat Free Vegan.

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The veggies assembled! One yellow onion, one green bell pepper, one yellow squash, one broccoli crown, a handful of baby carrots, a third of a big head of red cabbage, three garlic cloves, one bunch of lacinato kale, and some baby spinach.

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The first veggies prepped for the wok and the garlic poised for pressing. I used a tiny bit of canola oil. Also not pictured, because it’s utterly boring, is the white rice I started as well. I just followed the package instructions on that, so I’d suggest you do the same. You can use other rices too–the place we go that serves it hot has a house rice that is jasmine rice cooked in sesame oil. Delicious!

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While all that cooked to soften the harder veggies, I prepped the second batch for the pan. I like staggering their addition so you don’t end up with either way undercooked onions and carrots or way overcooked other vegetables that take far less time.

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Everything so far getting all tasty and delicious. Poverty stove, woo!

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Keep on chopping! I let the other veggies cook for a few minutes before I started cutting these up because I didn’t want to end up cooking them down TOO much.

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Pan is getting full… Wilt kale, wilt!

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And on with the baby spinach!

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Bibimbap assembled, premix. Rice on bottom, followed by veggies topped with the peanut sauce.

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And all mixed up, ready for eating! Yum! Including cooking the rice it only takes twenty or so minutes too, so it’s a great way to get some delicious veggies and a great Asian flavor on a busy evening.

The variations are endless, you can mix in all sorts of different things. Corn, peas, mushrooms, chickpeas, and all sorts of yummy vegetables are available as mix-ins at the restaurants. Really you can throw in just about anything you like, even some grilled tofu maybe! I’ll have to show you guys that sometime soon too.

One last thing before I’m done. You should all check out the Virtual Vegan Potluck going on over at Vegan Bloggers Unite (and literally more thanĀ 100! other blogs spread out across the vast blogosphere). It is an amazing thing and I believe it will take me several days to digest–mentally and physically–the full awesomeness of the recipes offered up by these amazing and creative bloggers!

Anyway, enough from me! I’m not even supposed to be here today!

Happy World Vegan Day!

Wednesday Weigh-In, Halloween edition!

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(unedited) Mambas photo courtesy flickr

So I’m still sick, which sucks, but I’m getting better. Haven’t really done much of anything the last few days as a result, but I also haven’t been eating very much. This has resulted in a weigh-in of 243.4 today, but I will take zero credit for that weight loss since it’s mostly just from being sick.

That said, if I’m feeling up to it this afternoon I will begin the couch-to-5k program. Then we’ll spend the evening watching all the kids in the neighborhood trick or treating. Growing up I always loved Halloween, I think it may be my favorite holiday. Going vegan takes some of the awesome out of the holiday though, have to be honest. So many of my favorite candies aren’t vegan, and this makes me sad. Sure, there are vegan candies out there (a good list is available here from Veg For Life), but I miss things like Twix, M&Ms, Almond Joys, etc.

But since there ARE vegan friendly candies, that will be what we’re passing out this evening. And maybe eventually I’ll figure out some vegan recipes for some of my old favorites–but of course in our hyper-sensitive and hyper-paranoid society it would be pointless to pass out homemade candies to the neighborhood kids… That’s just like asking their parents to throw away the ingredients for me.

So what is your favorite vegan and non-vegan Halloween candy? For me the favorite non-vegan would have to be almond joys… Favorite vegan candy may be Mambas–possibly Twizzlers. But only the cherry/strawberry, can’t stand the dark Twizzlers.

Introductions/Plans

Hi there. My name is Jeff and I went vegan pretty much on my 27th birthday, just a few months ago.

My road to this point has been an interesting one; growing up I lived in a pretty typical lower middle class Texan family that lived on fast food, Tex-Mex, steak, and potatoes–in that order. As you might imagine, my parents and I were also significantly overweight. It was a struggle throughout my adolescence and by my junior year of high school I was up around 320 pounds. Over the next two summers–and the intervening school year–I dropped down to about 195 by my eighteenth birthday.

But my method of weight loss was poor, and I inevitably fell into old habits, and gained the weight again. Up and down I’ve gone over the last decade. As I sit today I weigh 247 pounds, down about 30 pounds from where I was when I met the woman to whom I recently became engaged. We met in early 2011, began dating in March of 2011, and through quiet and completely non-pushy methods she somehow turned this long-time omnivore-leaning-more-carnivore into a vegan. The conversion came about two months ago, and in that span I can already feel a difference in my overall health and have seen some movement on the scale.

Now, however, I’ve come to realize that I need to do more than just eat right. Don’t get me wrong, I love the vegan diet–it is full of variety and completely cruelty free. I’m not going to go on any kind of rant about it being better for you or anything like that. It’s a good diet for me, and aside from B12 (which I take a vegan-friendly supplement for) I get everything I need nutrition wise out of my diet–including protein. But diet alone isn’t going to get me where I want to be.

I’ve decided to begin an exercise regiment called the ‘Couch-to-5k Running Program,’ which is designed to slowly work up over several weeks to jogging a full three miles (roughly 5k) without stopping. Starting tomorrow evening I’ll begin the program and do it every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Following this I intend to do the similar Pooch to 5k program on the same M/W/F schedule, because my girl Izzy isn’t getting any younger and she needs to be healthy too.

That will be a total of 21 weeks focusing pretty much exclusively on cardio. By then hopefully I will have lost a significant amount of the weight I hope to lose. Then I will begin the Lifehacker Workout, again following the same M/W/F schedule. This will be continuous, slowly building up that monster Deck of Cards Wednesday workout to the point where, maybe someday, I can actually do a full deck. I think at the start I’ll be lucky to makeĀ  it through a quarter of the deck.

So… Why, you ask?

GOALS

SHORT TERM:
– Complete a three mile jog in half an hour or less by December 31, 2012 (beginning of week 9, Couch-to-5k)
– Lose 25 or so pounds by my 10-year High School Reunion (not sure when that is, exactly)
– Lose 50 or so pounds by my Wedding Day (tentatively set for 11/30/2013)

LONG TERM:
Avoid, as much as possible, arthritis, dementia, and other physically and mentally debilitating diseases.
– Live actively enough in old age to horseplay with my grandchildren.
– Live long enough and alertly enough to see the tricentennial (July 4, 2076–I’ll be 91)

These aren’t my only goals; I’m sure I’ll come up with other goals and landmarks to celebrate along the way. But at this instant those represent my ‘big picture’ goals.

So, how will this blog be formatted? What am I going to show you?

Not sure exactly. I’ve decided that Wednesday I will have a Weigh-In Wednesday post where I do my weekly weigh-in. Beyond that I’m really not sure exactly. I do know I’ll follow the same M/W/F schedule as my workouts–though if doing both the workouts and the blogs in one evening becomes overwhelming I may shift the blog to Tu/Th/Sa. We’ll figure that out as we go, I suppose. Probably going to post workout updates, meals/recipes, vegan news, etc.

We’ll see where it goes. I just hope you’ll join me for the ride.