Saturday, January 30, 2010

Steakhouse Success

My second big lunch meeting since going vegan, and the challenge was a little daunting...Lone Star Steakhouse. I'd only been there once before, when Husband and I were dating. The food was delicious (this was WAY before I went veg), but the waitress sat down at our table to take our order (always a restaurant turn-off, in my opinion) and the service was slower than slow. So I was looking forward to seeing if I'd have a better experience the second time around and how I would fare.

It was easier than I thought. When we sat down, they had little buckets of peanuts in the shell set out for snacking. Protein - check! For lunch I ordered a dinner salad minus the cheese with balsamic vinaigrette and a plain baked sweet potato. Success! At a steakhouse, even!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Out of Commission

Sunday morning, I bent over to pick up a laundry basket. When I tried to stand up with it...I couldn't. I threw out my back. I've never been in so much pain, and I've given birth to two children. I've also never thrown out my back, so I didn't know what had happened. Luckily, Husband was home (he's thrown out his back a few times) and was able to watch the kids for the rest of the day while I lay in the bedroom dreading having to get up and go potty. When I needed to get up, I either pulled myself along the furniture and walls with my upper body at almost 90 degrees to my legs because I couldn't straighten up, or I crawled on my hands and knees.

I called in sick yesterday, because while the pain was much improved, I stilled walked around like Groucho Marx. The doctor prescribed a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory. Today, I woke up and could actually stand up straight, so I got ready for work. But as the morning wore on, my back started hurting more, so after debating with myself for about an hour and on Husband's advice, I took another day off. I hated to do it, because I'm going to be really far behind at work, but I think I would've had to leave early if I'd gone. Tomorrow, I plan to go to work and see how long I last, even if I have to move slowly.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Trying Something New

At the grocery store today, I picked up a couple parsnips. I've never had them before, but they seemed like a good winter root vegetable to try. Also, everything I've read or heard about them said they taste like carrots, but sweeter. Well, I love carrots, so how bad could they be?

Um...pretty bad. I oven-roasted them along with some sweet potato, but the parsnips weren't sweet. They were actually pretty bitter, although they did, indeed, taste a lot like carrots. Well, I give myself some credit for trying a new vegetable. And maybe if they were prepared in a different way I'd like them. For now, though, I won't be buying anymore any time soon.

I did get a pretty good recipe out of my experiment, though. Here it is, but with the parsnips omitted – the bites I had without the parsnips and with the sweet potatoes were wonderful! (You can see the parsnips in the picture, above. Along with this salad, I had a portobello mushroom cap marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then baked in the oven at the same time as the parsnips and sweet potatoes. It kinda looks like a steak in the picture.)

Sweet Potato Bulgar Salad
1 lg. sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, separated
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup quick-cooking bulgar (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
2 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Toss the cubed sweet potato with 2 tbsp. olive oil and the black pepper. Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until soft.

While the sweet potato bakes, put the bulgar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

While the bulgar cooks, make a dressing by wisking together the remaining 1/4 c. olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and garlic powder.

When the sweet potatoes and bulgar are done and slightly cooled, toss them both together, along with the dressing. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Small Victory

Today, my co-workers and I went to a pizza buffet for lunch. This was my first experience dining out since the first of the year when I decided to really focus on eating vegan. I was a little worried about what I might be able to eat.

I consider the lunch a success. I started with a big salad (lettuce, tomato, peas, cucumber and sunflower seeds with light Italian dressing). My second plate was corn and three (very large) potato wedges. That's it. Now, the corn very likely had butter on it (I didn't ask) and I have no idea what was really in the batter/breading on the potatoes...but I didn't have any cheese pizza or cheese breadsticks! That is a major deal for me. I actually, successfully avoided cheese!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hot Soup on a Cold Day

Temperatures are in the single digits here in our little corner of the Midwest - sounds like a good excuse to make some tasty, hot soup! Especially when you can just dump the ingredients in the Crock-Pot and forget about it for eight hours. (By the way, I'm most impressed with my soup picture - you can even see the steam pouring off it! Not bad for our lower-end camera!)

Vegetable Bean Soup
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced onion (I used Ore Ida frozen diced onion)
1 large green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized dice
1 medium potato, skin left on, cut into bite-sized dice
1 container sliced mushrooms
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis, not drained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. black pepper
1 carton vegetable stock

Add all ingredients to large Crock-Pot. Cook on low for eight hours. Enjoy!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Kickstarting the New Year

Boy, has it been a while since I've posted! The holidays were pretty busy here, but Santa was very good to Son and Daughter. I didn't do too poorly myself - it was a great year to get gift cards!

Both Husband and my parents-in-law gave me Barnes & Noble cards (they know me so well!) and I was eager to use them. Last weekend, one of the books I bought with the cards was Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. It was a really quick read, and it gave me some excellent motivation to try harder this year to stick with a vegan diet (especially after the holidays - yikes). I highly recommend her book. It's very well written (conversational, entertaining, informative) and not super preachy, but there are certain aspects of it that I don't quite buy. Only flushing after Number Two in order to conserve water? Please... But she does have some great ideas for how to eat out and how to deal with temptation (the two biggest pitfalls I have with fully committing to being vegan - that, and cheese...). I know that I'm not ready - or even willing at this point - to try the Superhero version of her diet, but vegan is alright by me. I also signed up online for PCRM's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. I'm hoping that a daily e-mail with advice and recipe ideas will also help keep me motivated.

I should clarify that, despite the "diet" aspect of Silverstone's book and the weight loss benefits being touted as part of the Vegan Kickstart, I'm not trying to lose weight. I'm very happy with my current weight and think if I lost any more, I'd be in trouble. I got to my current weight by being vegetarian. I'm most interested in pushing myself to vegan status because I think it is so healthy. The more information I read about the health detriments of eating any animal products, not just flesh, makes me realize I can be even healthier than I am today. And who wouldn't want that?

Day 1 of 2010 - a fine start:

Breakfast: veganized banana nut muffin, soy yogurt with flaxmeal, black tea without sweetener
Lunch: black bean chili with brown rice and half an avocado mixed in (delicious!), oven roasted cauliflower and broccoli, whole wheat bread with Earth Balance
Snack: Tazo Wild Sweet Orange herbal tea from Starbucks (another gift card from Husband), handful of roasted almonds
Supper: packaged butternut squash soup mixed with whole wheat penne, sauteed mushrooms and spinach; whole wheat bread with Earth Balance, celery sticks, blood orange