Sunday, March 23, 2014

I know it's been a while since I last posted something here, but 40 hour work weeks and 18 credit hour school schedules don't leave a whole lot of free "me" time - what little I have left is given to the family.

But, today's posting is prompted by a new potential convert (you know who you are ;) ). This individual switched to a low-carb diet a while back in an attempt to loose some weight - I think 40 pounds was the goal, but I could be wrong. Anyhow, this post came across my news feed, and I urged him to take a look at it. He is now giving my idea a second thought, and is willing to give the vegan diet a try.

I must caution anyone that is curious to start slowly, though, especially if you're coming from a low/no-carb diet, since the mainstay of ours is carbohydrates. Start with one or two meals for two to three weeks, and slowly increase that by one more every two to three weeks. By 3 months, you should be at the 90% vegan that we are comfortably at.

The first question posed was "What to do about breakfast and lunch?" Well, those are easy, at least in this household. Breakfast for me on workdays is two slices of toast, each with about two tablespoons of all-natural organic crunchy peanut butter, the stuff you have to stir up before you use it the first time. Audrey and the kids eat cereal (with almond milk) or oatmeal, and fruit. On the weekends, one day for me is usually oatmeal, the other is (vegan) pancakes with a topper recipe that we devised. The topper is usually apple based, but today we switched it up an used pineapple. I sautee the fruit in a pan with cinnamon and sugar (I'll touch on our specifics, like the coconut sugar we use, in another post). Once it is cooked, I simply pour in enough (say, 1/4 to 1/2 cup) of natural maple syrup. Once that's warmed up, we spoon the syrupy fruit onto the pancakes, and add some fresh berries and chopped walnuts. Today, since we used pineapple, we used cashews (no macadamias in the house) and some flaked coconut.

Anyhow, back to the daily ritual. That toast holds me until my mid-morning snack, which is usually an apple and a Clif bar - the Clif bar is the best tasting protein bar I've ever eaten, and it's plant based. You can get them anywhere, but I buy the big box at Costco.

Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner, or if I'm on my way to school (or if we ate everything the night before) I will run into Central Market, Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods and grab a salad and a demi-baguette for $5-$6, or if I want something hot I'll grab a slice of veggie pizza from Whole Foods ($3) or get the veggie stir fry from Central Market's cafe. When I'm not going to school and there are no leftovers, lunch is either a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or (Stacey's Naked) pita chips, baby carrots, and hummus - I get the Pita-Pal Hummus-to-go packs at Costco, they are individually packed .125lb servings of hummus, and I eat two of them (for a 1/4 pound).

And, since I'm sitting here writing this, I may as well post our dinner for this evening. We actually made two, since this is one that Audrey and I love, but the kids aren't too keen on - which just means more for us. Our meal was 1.5 pounds of potatoes sliced about 1/8" thick, a whole medium onion, sliced, 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped (or minced if that's easier for you), and a pound of spinach (approximately - it was the remainder of what was left in our garden today). I lay a thin coat of peanut oil in the pan, then cover the bottom of the pan with a layer or two of potatoes, then a layer of half the onion. Sprinkle that with salt and pepper, and drizzle a little bit more peanut oil on top of that. Repeat this with the remaining potatoes and onion. Let that cook, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, mixing it up every 5-7 minutes, until the potatoes get soft. At this point, add the garlic and mix it in, cooking it for 5 minutes. Then pile the spinach on top of everything, cover it again, and wilt the spinach down.

Audrey and I love this dish - tonight, I decided that shitake mushrooms would add another layer of flavor to it that would make it simply outstanding. The kids don't really like the potatoes since I use a bit more pepper in them than they're used to, so they got some whole-wheat pasta with butter and the spinach mixed into it. I'm getting the rest of that  for lunch tomorrow - the potatoes are gone.