New Recipes – Summer Installment #1

18 Jul

OK!

I have all the good intentions to have several installments before the summer is over. We shall see if I live up to these expectations.

We bought a new grill earlier this year and have put it to good use. As I’ve said before, I’ve been eating more meat lately because of the grilling season. For the hard core vegan/vegetarians, save your preaching. I have come a long way in my meat consumption.  I have also found some good vegan grilling options.  I bought the cookbook “Cookouts, Veggie Style: 225 Backyard Favorites – Full of Flavor, Free of Meat!” from Amazon to expand my grilling recipe arsenal. I also looked on line for some good summer recipes on the grill and off.

About a month ago, my wife signed me up on Pinterest.  She did this because I always sent her recipes that I wanted to try and she said to just start an account and make a separate board for recipes I’d like to try. Let’s just say, I am pinning stuff left and right. I thought that it was more of a girly thing, this Pinterest…but I got into it, and it is useful. You can check me out if you want: http://pinterest.com/dbrunner281/.  I went crazy and pinned a bunch of vegan summer recipes I want to try.

Well, back to the matter at hand. I am spotlighting two recipes I really liked.

1: Orzo and Zucchini Salad 

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This was a great salad recipe from Martha Stewart’s web page. However, I replaced the orzo with pearl barley and it came out great.  The basil gives it such a great flavor. This goes well with any grilled main dish. I may try with other grains like quinoa or brown rice, but barley seems to be the perfect size and consistency.

2: Grilled avocado with salsa

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This is my favorite discovery so far. It’s sooo good. Use vegan sour cream, and you can add a little grated vegan cheese if you want.  I mash it all up in the avocado shell and then scoop it out with either soft tortillas or tortilla chips. Trust me, once you try this you will want to grill avocado at every cookout.

That’s my two recipes for now. Let me know what you think if you try them out. 

 Hopefully I’ll get back to you with a few more before the end of the summer. Enjoy the sun and cookout season!

Hmmm, I lied about Thrive.

19 Jun

Well, here’s an update. I never started the Thrive Diet or Workout regimen. I am working out, but on my own routine. My goal is to increase strength and cut fat, but not necessarily gain bulkier muscle.

My routine is 3 full body workouts a week and at least two running sessions a week. I alternate my full body workouts between a medium weight, heavy weight and light weight days. Each day consist of one pull (pull-ups, rows…), one push (bench press, dips, shoulder press…) and one legs (squats, dead-lift, box jumps…). I finish off with an ab and lower back superset and then some stretching. I won’t go into the specifics, as I’m not a trainer or anything, so you’re better off asking a professional. If you would like to compare notes or have recommendations for me, don’t hesitate to contact me.

I’ve been at it for a few months. While I’m getting stronger, not sure my diet is ideal. For the training I’m doing, I might not be eating enough to optimize my strength gains. I don’t want to gain any fat, so I’m limiting my calorie intake, but this might be at the expense of muscle recovery. It doesn’t seem like I’ve lost much fat either though. Like I said, my diet is probably all wrong.

I’ve been ok about staying away from meats and dairy for the most part. But now that it’s grilling season, I have definitely gone from 2-3 meals a week with meat, to about 5-6. This brings me to the Thrive workout/diet. I really need to get on this to see if it works. However, it might have to weight until summer is over. I’m sticking to a mainly vegetarian diet (80-90%). Vegan is just too much for me. I like eggs and cheese too much. So the plan is, to enjoy summer and then get serious after the season and start Thrive.

One last thing, in the coming weeks I plan on sharing a few recipes I’ve come across that are really good. Until next time!

Hi Again

5 Apr

Hi everyone!

I know it’s been a long while since I’ve posted.  And I never really posted a final evaluation of the whole vegan diet. Well, here it goes:

As I said before, even a year ago, if you told me I would have tried going vegan for a whole month, I would have said you were tripping. However, after my wife suggested it, with here doey eyes, I had to say yes. 

I was curious to see what effects it would have on me, good and bad. Moreover, with all the bad things I’ve heard and seen about the meat industry, paired with intriguing studies supporting plant-based diets as a healthy and sustainable way of life, it was worth a deeper look. My biggest concern in the past was the inability to get a fully nutritious diet, especially with complete proteins/aminos.  I did my research and found a lot of positive findings on the vegan lifestyle which addressed my concerns.  However, as with all studies, I took it with a grain of salt.  Obviously most of these studies have been funded/conducted by those with an agenda that is strengthened by results of these studies. 

In the end, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try this. I mean, I’ve done so much to my body in the past, knowing that the effects on my body were definitely bad.  So wifey and I embarked on the 30 day experiment together (it definitely makes it much easier if everyone is on board). 

At home, It was easy, even fun. We tried new recipes and made note of what we liked, disliked or were indifferent to. There was a lot of new foods we tried.  I especially enjoyed experimenting with making seitan. My wife seemed to enjoy finding good desserts, like cakes in cups.

Outside of the house was a little harder.  Work doesn’t provide many options.  Restaurants only really have salads, because practically everything they offer as “vegetarian” has at least cheese in it (which in many cases are not even vegetarian friendly, using rennet, which is calf stomach lining in the cheese making process). In Lausanne and pretty much Switzerland as a whole, it’s pretty hard for a vegan, though it is getting better. Actually, this part of Europe in general doesn’t make it easy (as we found out going to Marseille last weekend). Some still believe fish is not meat over here! We found that falafel sandwiches or tabouli at any kebab place are an easy go-to when out.

I’m not sure I felt many obvious effects physically in the 1 month I was on the diet.  I did lose about 3 kilos (6.75 lbs) in the month without trying.  I still stuffed myself at dinner time if the food was good (which was a lot of the time), I snacked, and I kept the same workout regimen. I did feel less tired and was sleeping better. My skin seemed to get better, but then towards the end I had a minor flare up of my seborrheic dermatitis. I didn’t really see much of a difference in the gym, no strength gains, but definite improvement in cardio. I think the biggest difference was the fact that I wasn’t getting tired in the afternoon and seemed to have more energy throughout the day without having to rely too much on caffeine.

So, in the end, I do find the vegan diet to be beneficial, but not exactly life changing. A more prolonged time on the diet may see increased benefits, but that remains in question. After the 30 days, I’ve basically gone to a 80-90% vegan diet.  At home, I am vegetarian because I basically eat whatever my wife (vegetarian) makes. At work I stick mostly to the vegan meal replacement shake, but do have a tuna or roast beef sandwich on occasion. When eating out, I will eat whatever I find most inviting, which will be non-vegan about 80% of the time. I’m not 100% vegan, but still feel like the serious reduction in animal products is benefitting my overall health.

Ok, onto a new subject:

I thought I would be done with this blog after the initial 30 days.  However, I’m now thinking about a new project. I’m currently reading Thrive Fitness: The Vegan-Based Training Program for Maximum Strength, Health, and Fitness, and am probably going to follow the 6-week program set forth in this book. I will possibly make a few modifications to the diet, as it’s comprised solely of raw foods, which I don’t think I’m ready for. Once I’m done reading the book, I’ll lay out my plan and go at it for 6 weeks. I will write a weekly post (as the daily is just too tedious and uninteresting for this subject matter), updating on progress and overall feelings of the program. Has anyone reading done this program? If so, any thoughts or words of advice/caution?  I’d love to hear from you.

Next post coming when/if I start…till then!

Day 30 – And Done!

6 Mar

Well, I’m a little late on this post because I got kind of lazy.

We finished our 30 day Vegan journey two nights ago with great success. I had to get up a little earlier than usual because I had a doctor’s appointment.  I got my results for my yearly checkup. Clean bill of health, I’m proud to say. Everything came out normal, even my blood pressure, which was a concern when I went in last (though he said it might have just been that particular day and me being stressed and tired). Well, this time around it was 120/61, normal. I doubt it’s because of the diet, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt.

Anyway, I didn’t eat before getting to the office, so I popped into Coop to grab something.  Pretty scarce on the vegan stuff.  Most of the bread has butter or cheese in it, unless I wanted to buy a huge loaf. I settled for a box of Dar-Vida. These are always good in a pinch. My mom turned me onto these.  She always has a bag of these in her purse. I had a few of them and a banana.

For lunch I had my scrumptious Raw Meal replacement shake and an apple later in the day.

My wife made some spinach pesto (modified version of this recipe, using nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan) with some Corniture vegan meatballs for dinner.  Very cheesy tasting and the added meatballs gave it a great finishing touch.  She served it over some tomato quinoa pasta, which we got from MagBio in Romanel. This quinoa pasta is gluten-free for those of you who have the allergy.

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It came out nice and cheesy.  One of the many great dishes we’ve experience along the way.  For dessert we had the leftover desert from the night before. Well, that’s about it for our last day!  We made it! Stay posted for a summary and thoughts post to come in the next days.

 

Day 29

4 Mar

This Sunday, I got up around 7:30am, had my coffee and a bagel with toffuti cream cheese.  Yes you can get bagels at the grocery stores here.  It is not the same as the ones you get in the U.S. Not enough choice here.  You basically have plain or sesame seeds.  You can go into Geneva and get some variety. My favorite place is Cheesecake and Company.

For lunch we just had leftovers.

For dinner we cooked for others for the first time since we started this diet.  We had my parents and two of my brothers over. I decided to make something we had earlier this month that we deemed “worthy” for company. It was the Jamaican Vegetable Medley and Coconut Rice (I added black beans to the rice this time) from day 7.

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My family loved it.  They cleaned it out and were ready to eat more.  I’m glad we could show them that a vegan meal can be good.

For dessert we had yellow cake (Duncan Hines box mix is vegan) with mango and whipped coconut cream.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My family really liked everything. Clean plates will always tell you that. No leftovers is another sign.

Well, that’s it for this post.  Tomorrow is our last day! Not that I couldn’t go for longer, but we’ll probably stop at 30 days and go on a 90-95% vegan diet. We’ll see.

Good night all.

Day 28

3 Mar

Saturday morning, I was up early, as usual.  My wife always sleeps in about an hour or two after me. I like that because it gives me 1-2 hours of video game time, which I take full advantage of.

When she got up, she asked if I would make chocolate chip pancakes. I obliged and did it with Bisquick and used almond milk and egg replacement and made sure the chips were vegan. On the weekends in the morning we like revisit our kid days.  So while eating breakfast we watched Heathcliff (a show both of us grew up watching on Saturday mornings).

For lunch we finished off the baba ghanoush and later had some popcorn while watching Snow White and the Huntsman.  Pretty entertaining flick, though Kristen Stewart can be a little annoying at times. Movie itself was entertaining, especially because I had low expectations.

For dinner, my wife made a soup and I wanted to try a new appetizer recipe that is in our 30 Minute Vegan book. They were the zucchini rolls which were made with tofu, tahini paste, nutritional yeast, olive oil and a bunch of herbs, baked quickly in the oven.

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They came out awesome, and I’m going to try the filling in stuffed mushrooms next time. It comes out with a very cheesy taste. I would love to share the recipe, but don’t want to infringe on anyone’s intellectual property. I do highly recommend this book though. So far all of the recipes we’ve tried have been good.

My wife’s meal she prepared was a modified version of “Frogmore Stew,” from Perfect One-Dish Dinners. She wasn’t too happy with it. Sometimes modifying recipes to be vegan is trial and error. This one tasted ok, but the lemon overpowered everything.  Probably because the meat that was supposed to go in there would balance out the flavor. I think with another go, it could be good, but we’ll try to move on to other recipes before doing that.

Well, that’s about all for today. Just two days left!

Day 27

2 Mar

Friday! Weeks are going so quick.  Next week will finally quiet down at work again, which will be great. 

My wife and I got up at 6am to go to the gym before work.  We worked a new routine of going to the gym before work and she drops me off at the office. So, I started off with a small bowl of cereal in the morning before the workout.  When I got to the office, I had the meal replacement shake that I usually have for lunch.

So, for lunch, I went to the cafeteria to see what vegan things I could find. I settled on mainly warm lentils and added some broccoli, zucchini, carrots and other side stuff from the salad bar and topped it with some pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts. It was ok. I definitely prefer the home-cooked meals my wife prepares.

When I got home, we just ate a really quick, I won’t even call it dinner. We had pita bread and baba ghanoush.  We had a party we were going to for a friend’s 30th  birthday. It was a hipster theme party too.  We had some fun with it and got dressed up. They had a really nice spread there, but everything had cheese or meat on it! It was to be expected though. The things we could eat were olives, chips (there were potato chips and then these tomato chips which were interesting) and hummus.

We got home around 1am and I ate a couple skyflakes with vegan cream cheese on it before bed. That’s it for day 27.

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