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 (sautéed 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 than 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.

Well that figures…

Over the course of yesterday I was feeling worse and worse–sinuses kept getting more and more swollen and throat got scratchier and scratchier. Woke up this morning to what feels like a full-blown sinus infection. Ugh. I’m trying to decide if I can bring myself to start the couch to 5k program today despite how I feel, and I’m leaning toward putting it off because I think that might kill me today.

I did have like three oranges, an apple, some grapes, and a little soy milk blended together for breakfast, maybe that combined with some benadryl can knock this thing out. If not I might have to go to the doctor. I hate doctors!

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 make  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.