going vegan.

at least for a month. i’m 2 1/2 weeks into this new food test and let me tell you, it’s tough!

after our food allergy test last fall, i had noticed that we were only consuming meat products in our main dishes. as evident from previous postings and taste tests, i have successfully figured out how to bake not only without wheat or gluten but also by going 100% vegan.  and since we don’t use eggs or milk in any of our other cooking, i thought to myself, ‘how hard could it be to eliminate animal protein from our diet?’

well, let me share that having a gluten and wheat intolerances makes it going vegan a lot harder. significantly harder. my old runner partner, audra, had graciously lent me alicia silverstone, the kind diet, a book about veganism with recipes for those who are testing the waters and for those who are going cold turkey. i’m obviously the latter. it’s either all or nothing baby.

i love alicia’s thoughts on why she went vegan and her initial struggle with moving past that threshold. her story is awesome and inspiring.  however, when looking through the recipes, it became very apparent that i wouldn’t be able to use most of them. there’s a lot of gluten and wheat in nearly every recipe. it’s all a bit new to me, so trying to figure out what to replace things with isn’t nearly as easy as it was with our food elimination diet- who would have thought?! i was a bit bummed to say the least.

in the meantime, my go-to meals, were a rice tortilla with vegan cheese and tabasco sauce or a vegan burger. if i was lucky, i had guacamole and salsa on hand. i also was consuming a lot of vegan bars and kale salad. i’m a bit sick of the latter which is unfortunate because it’s one my favs.  and i hate to admit this but i was eating out a lot. lunches at marlene’s and senor taco became a standard. and let me tell you, bean burritos are not the same as my chicken tacos.  my eating out wasn’t just taxing on my wallet but my confidence in my ability to cook.  finding recipes that could support my protein and B12 needs in addition to all the nutrients i needed was difficult. and i could tell the lack of protein was having a direct impact on my energy levels. i hadn’t really worked out in 2 weeks and have just been lethargic.

recently i have been a bit more creative in trying to figure out what to cook. part of it can be attributed to a cook book my friend, hilary is letting me borrow. i was so excited when she lent it to me because i had seen this at whole foods and was debating on getting it a week earlier. it’s for folks with gluten allergies and who are vegan!  i can eat most if not all the things in here. i’m excited to try my hand a few other recipes in here!

in the meantime, here’s a few new recipes that have become a new staple in our household.

qunioa, carrot and lentil stew:
courtesy of “qunioa: the everyday superfood 365 by patricia green and carolyn hemming”

1/2 c. quinoa
1/2 c. red lentils (we used french)
4 c. vegetable stock
1 c. water
1 1/2 c. sliced carrots (we used 2c.)
1 c. diced red onion (we used 1 1/4 c.)
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. diced red bell pepper (1 c. is equivalent to one medium pepper)
2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro

combine the quinoa, lentils, stock and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 mins.  add the carrots, onion, cumin, corinader, and salt and cook for 5 mins. add the red bell pepper and cook for 5 more minutes. add the cilantro and adjust the seasoning if necessary. serve immediately.

* to make this recipe more like a soup versus a stew, reduce the thickness by precooking the quinoa and then add it to the soup.

Polenta:  (i have tried so many different methods and ways and brands of polenta that i was pleasantly surprised with this recipe! we love it)
courtesy of “the gluten free vegan- 150 delicious gluten-free, animal-free recipes by susan o’brien”

thanks hilary for letting me borrow this book. it’s awesome!

4 c. soy or hemp milk
3 c. coarse cornmeal
1/2-1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground pepper

heat the  milk in a 2 quart saucepan and when it begins to boil, slowly add the cornmeal.  bring back to a boil, the lower the heat to low and cook until thick , stirring often, about 20 minutes. be sure to stir this mixture, as you don’t want it to stick to the bottom of the pan. lower heat to the lowest setting if it continues to stick. or add a bit more milk, if you prefer.

*you can season with herbs or saute veggies and throw on top.  it’s great by itself or as a side dish!

we actually used this polenta recipe with a veggie pasta sauce i threw together. it turned out delicious!

Veggie Pasta Sauce:

1 tbs of olive oil
1 large eggplant, diced (note: don’t use japanese eggplant)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 container of crimini mushrooms
2 tsp. minced garlic
7 oz. roasted red bell pepper, diced
2 bottles of tomato and basil marinara (we use classico from costco)
8 fresh basil leaves, washed and torn into small pieces

in a large pot, add in olive oil, garlic and onions.  cook onions for about 5 minutes.  then add in mushrooms and eggplant until well soft but not overcooked, about 8-10 minutes. add roasted red bell peppers along with the tomato sauce. simmer for 30 minutes. add basil leaves 15 minutes into simmering.

serve over polenta or rice noodles. we love tinkyada and use it in our lasagna all the time. when cooking these rice noodles, just be sure to use a lot more water and watch it closely. they’re done in less than 7 mins!

enjoy! if you have any delish recipes, send them over. we love to share!

1 Comment

  1. Administrator

    May 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Okay, first off, let me say that it’s ridiculous that my username shows up as “administrator” I need to fix that in my wordpress account! More importantly, can’t wait to try the quinoa stew. We ate quinoa almost every day when we were on our diet, it’s amazing stuff and I’m excited for some news ways to try it. Thanks for sharing, Jacks!

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