Another Vegan Update

Today is day 21 I believe. This is a special day because it is suppose to mark the amount of time that something takes to become a habit. I want to talk a little bit more about my experience and feelings rather than exactly what I’ve been eating, meal-for-meal. Though, I will share some nice pictures with you.

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I have not been perfect. While trying to eat vegan I have eaten eggs and bacon, an ice cream bar, and a bratwurst. And I’ll tell you it was a let down further and further each time until day 19 when I said to Michael, “I don’t want to do the no-meat thing anymore, forget it.” And the next day I continued to try to eat like a vegan. I guess what this means is that you’re going to make mistakes. Not everyone can quit cold turkey.

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I personally think that a wise vegan will slowly take things on and do lots of research. There are so many areas of this lifestyle. For one I am having to cook a lot more, and I am really not very good at it in the first place. This is taking a learning curve. I get flustered easily in the kitchen because things are hot and need chopped. I am learning to sloooowwww down. Another facet about this lifestyle is not only learning how to cook differently, but eat differently as well. Nutrition is so important and it is SO different from what I am used to. I understand that protein builds muscles and you need a certain amount, but then I start freaking out about how many carbs I’m eating or whether I’m getting enough veggies and vitamins, or, or…

You have to stop. You have to take things slowly. Some meals are going to turn out nasty. Some meals are going to have too much rice/wheat. It’s ok, that’s where you learn.

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I personally have been really bad about getting any fitness in this last week. I have not gained or lost any weight, but I started to feel awful again. I don’t feel the vegan glow because I am out of balance. And even that’s ok! It’s all about learning and being gentle with yourself knowing what works for you and what you need to change. Every day is so different and unique from the next. What is going on socially or with the weather can affect the choices you make, or emergency deadlines, or great opportunities. Life is crazy and amazing so embrace it.

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I’m trying to learn to make the cooking process gentle. I am normally a bull in a china shop because, like I said, there are a lot of things going on and I want to get it done NOW! It’s definitely a feeling of defeat when you take 2 hours to make a meal and the whole things gets eaten in five minutes with NO leftovers. But it happens!

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I have been using the Thug Kitchen cookbook to help me out with meals. I am so excited to purchase more vegan cookbooks, but I’m definitely going to work through quite a few more of these recipes before I do. I really loved the Vietnamese noodle bowls, but I want to find a different dressing. And that is the perfect example of learning to cook. What do you like about the meal? the cooking process? What works and what doesn’t work for you? Guys, I am 27 and still learning how to cook. I have never been a comfort food staples kind of girl. Though, we did get on a chili, spaghetti, and casserole kick there for a time!

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Another thing you have to take into consideration is you significant other and family. Thankfully Michael will try something that I make, but I am going to have to be willing to eat conventionally from time-too-time unless Michael begins to change his stance on things. Something I can always do for something like spaghetti is to keep the meat and sauce separate until it is served. I can also use non-dairy butter and other substitutes in conventional recipes. It’s really all about balance other wise you will drive yourself crazy! And this whole thing is about compassion and advocacy! No advocate ever succeeded by being crazy obnoxious.

I’m at day 21 guys. I don’t know if I will actually see day 42, but as of today I know where I stand. And I am proud of the progress and impact I have made. If the numbers are right, at one month I will have saved:

Gallons of water:33,000
Sq.ft of Forest:900
Animal Lives: 30
lbs of Grain: 1,200
lbs of Co2: 600
(Give or take a bratwurst…)
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5 Days as a Vegan

Today is my sixth day of eating like a vegan. I would like to say that it has been all whole foods, but it hasn’t, and there have been a few minor errors, like in the first day with eating a slice of homemade bread, that was gift, that may have had some butter and an egg in it, but I’m not looking at that. I’m looking at the major decisions I made in my diet, because I am NOT going to look a the small mishaps, but rather the big steps I have taken.

Day 2:

Breakfast: Chia pudding (chia, almond milk, raspberries), Kashi vegan blueberry waffles, Silk yogurt. Lunch: Slice of oat bread, Buddha bowl. Dinner: Protein shake, Daiya Alfredoimageimageimage

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Day 3:

Breakfast: Breakfast Quinoa with almond milk, lemon, and blueberries. Lunch: Daiya Alfredo. Snack: Larabar, Strawberries. Dinner:…? I don’t remember! I do remember polishing off the coconut ice cream though!

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Day 4:

Breakfast: The same breakfast quinoa. Lunch: Veggie Hummus wrap. Snack: Protein shake, plums. Dinner: Daiya White cheddar.

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Day 5:

Breakfast: Ezekiel bread with vegan butter and jam. First lunch: Leftover mac, Larabar. Second lunch: Breakfast quinoa with blueberries and strawberries. Snack: Banana. Dinner: Vegan mac with veggie/nutritional yeast sauce.

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So far I have started out my morning with chia pudding and fresh berries and two slices of Ezekiel bread with “butter” and preserves!

It is safe to say that I am really feeling a difference. Everything is still kind of weird because it will take a long time to adjust to the idea of “no dairy” and just eating differently, seeing food differently. The first 2 days were the hardest. I was hungry all the time and felt like crap. My body had had enough and was in shock because I wasn’t feeding it the same, but day 3 was a day off and I was able to get the sleep I needed and take things slow and after that I started noticing a difference. It hasn’t cured my morning problem yet. I am Jekyll and Hyde in the morning. Almost every day I carry the regret of not waking up on time, but I am someone else in my sleep, someone desperate for more rest like their life depends on it, then I snap out of it, only lately after snapping out of it I have pep! I haven’t drank any coffee for a week either!

So this is my testament to you. Give it a REAL try for more than one day. The Meatless Monday is a joke. This is the real deal. Get over you own tastes buds that you have been spoiling your whole life! Get your brain off of sugar!

Watch Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy, read The Omnivore’s Dilema, and it will change they way you make food decisions.

Thug Kitchen is on it’s way to me and I have a list of other cookbooks that I can’t wait to get my hands on!

A Plant Based Day

I decided to try a day of plant based eating. I have gained some weight in my tummy and hips and have been eating like a maniac. (Cake for breakfast AND dessert?!)   It’s high time to whip out the running shoes, weights, and yoga mat and change up this diet!

For breakfast, 8:30, I had Kashi blueberry vegan waffles and So Delicious yogurt. This wasn’t very filling but I decided to cope with water and the understanding that I needed to be a little bit hungry after eating like a pig. Yes you read that, I spent some time hungry today as punishment and I lived to tell about it.

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At 11:00 I was famished so I scarfed down an amazing wrap from TaDah! This wrap has so many tasty good-for-you things about it and at 430 calories was good to keep me going for a while. At about 1:00 I ate a mocha Larabar.

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By 4:30 I was hungry again, and I had been fighting work duties and things to get to some food… you know how it goes. I brought leftovers of my Buddha Bowl dinner: Quinoa, garlic black beans, lettuce greens, light fries, tomato, cucumber, and an AMAZING avocado sauce!!!

Avocado Dressing:

1 avocado, juice of 1 lemon, and these next items to taste: clove of garlic, black pepper, salt, rice milk.

Blend until smooth and creamy.

SOOOOOOO good! even on the fries!

Since I ended up not finishing that meal until 5:15, work you know… I was definitely good until work was over, but as soon as I got home I dug into a mango! Michael hasn’t been eating dinner because of work. I don’t ask too many questions, but it’s usually because they feed him a big lunch and/or he’s so worn out and over heated hes just not hungry. So I look at it as a way to get experiment-y! But the mango was an awesome treat and gave me some sugar to get me pumped up for a little workout. Afterward I drank a plant based protein shake with almond milk and fresh berries. Garden of Life: Fit. It was actually tasty despite the awful reviews. Will be getting lots more this evening!

Before I went home to do my workout, I stopped at GNC and the grocery store. At GNC, to my surprise, I found goji berries and the brand of protein powder I was looking for and an overwhelming amount of other vegan options! At the grocery store I grabbed more quinoa, fresh fruit and avo, peanut butter, tortillas, humus, La Croix sparkling water, some vegan Daiya Alfredo Mac O.M.G!!!! I was so sad when I was thinking about chicken Alfredo and bam! There it was! I hope it’s yummy.

And at the very end of the day, after workout/proteinshake/helping move furniture I cut off a slice of oat bread that was given to us by Michael’s mom… And yes I’m sure there was butter and sugar in the recipe, but let’s not focus too much on it.

This was a heavy day for me. It was full of work nonsense… making the battle for meat and dairy seem even more cruel. If I do this, how am I going to do it?! How am I going to get enough protein and make my macro profiles good for building muscles and burning fat without eating a ton of soy? That’s my biggest question here. So I will continue to experiment with vegan meals and protein powders and snacking on fruits and veggies over cake and candy and in the meantime I will research and not loose my mind if I need to eat a traditional meal… Vegan is a lifestyle, but I see it as grey. To be the perfect vegan you would need to live on a different vegan-only planet. The people-to-people connection on this planet is too great to be absolutely perfect, so I won’t give myself a lot of heat over a lapse. It’s a learning and habit process! But , really, thank heavens for fruit and so many delicious vegan breakfasts and desserts. We can have that at least!

I will also note that I’m not promising myself to this lifestyle yet, I’m only trying things out at this point.

But be happy to know that I have already started Day 2 with a round of yoga, chia pudding with raspberries, kashi waffles, and silk yogurt!

January Round-Up

Well friends, it has been a crazy month in my little corner of the universe. There have been a lot of things that inspire me to do what I do, share what I share, and learn more about it all.

I just wanted to share with you my favorite posts I’ve read this week from other blogs. Some of these are just fun, some of them educational.

Two articles come from A Beautiful Mess and they helped me to understand photography  a little bit better!

1. All about Prime Lenses & Focal Lengths – The first article is a little bit older, but very informative! When I first bought a camera I knew that there would be a lot to be learned and that I would probably be let down by the capabilities of my lens. While the objective of the article is to explain the difference between prime and zoom lenses and what focal lengths are great for certain things. With that this article explains focal lengths well and helped me know what to search for online to learn more about photographing a living room/landscape and up close!

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2.Casual Friday Vol. 23 – The next article shows how Emma uses tile boards to photograph here delicious creations. I had no idea how useful they would be when I first read this until I tried photography food in my own kitchen. WOW. I can definitely see myself finding or creating a couple of options that are versatile like light wood, white wood, and white tile.

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These articles really helped me to know where to begin practicing with my camera and what to look for on the internet for more information. It’s the beginning of a fun journey for sure!

3. Homemade Toaster Strudels – This recipe comes from cooking classy and I am definitely going to try it some weekend! Toaster strudels were my favorite growing up, but the name brand ones were always cold in spots and burnt in others. Who didn’t love the taste of them, though?!  These look like they would be warm and fluffy and fruity an amazing!

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4. DIY: Faux Druzy Necklace – How pretty are these! #hearteyes I’m trying to think of ways you could get a gilded look around the edge like I have seen. I will have to go down the jewelry aisle next time I’m at Hobby Lobby. In the past I have taken jewelry and metalsmithing classes so this speaks to me in the quick and easy way. I would LOVE to get back into making jewelry again that is more involved.

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5. This Outfit on Polyvore – Definitely helps inspire my work wardrobe. Working at a Harley Shop has forced me to change my style to fit in and this outfit shows me that I can still put forth my personality while wearing black leather riding boots. I love the relaxed silky top and dangling necklace. I actually have a similar necklace so I’m halfway there!

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So there are a few things that have inspired me this month!

Hello, February! You are bringing us just a little bit closer to Spring!

Try it Tuesday

Folks, I’m giving you fair warning. I am NOT a chef, not even a decent cook. I am a bull in a china shop in that room they call the kitchen.

So I decided, especially because I’ve moved in my significant other, that I should begin refining my culinary skills. I can’t eat spaghetti forever!

Even if that means getting some joe-shmoe practice in at the good ol’ stove, I’ll do it. Practice is practice right?

Today I decided to try a recipe from Emma at A Beautiful Mess.

A sweet heat fancy grilled cheese sandwich. If you haven’t heard of FGC yet and you love grilled cheese or grilled sandwiches, oh man! These recipes these ladies are dreaming up are so decadent I can’t even describe it.

In the past I have made the fig and almond butter recipe and it was WAY delicious, scrumptious even.

So here’s how the sweet heat recipe went for me.

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The recipe calls for: good quality bread, pineapple (preferably fresh, canned ok), jarred jalepenos, Manchego cheese, and mayonnaise.

I could not for the life of me find Manchego cheese at my grocery store, so i did a quick google of alternatives and decided mozzarella would be suitable. I have to do this a lot because I live in a small town in the bible belt.

I also opted for canned pineapples because I’m a #lazygirl.

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I think this sandwich was good, but mine was not amazing because I did not use fresh pineapple. sadface. It was too subtle of a flavor. The mozzarella did ok, I’d like to see how it would fair with fresh pineapple.

So in the end I would definitely give it a try. If you are scared of the jalepenos you have control of how much you add!

While this isn’t something I’d dream of making regularly or serving as a meal necessarily, I’m just obsessed with trying new flavors!

So how about you? Any recipes you have tried to branch out with? Are any of you complete newbies in the kitchen? You are NOT alone! 🙂 I’m 26 and still trying to get the hang of it!

*and just a note about the photos, I am practicing so hard taking these, so bare with me! I have A LOT to learn, but I have great inspiration to draw from and lots of people to learn from! So with that the reason I do these posts with the pictures that I have is because I will not let my efforts go to waste because of the small details I fear. 🙂

Greek Yogurt With a Twist

When it comes to breakfast foods, nothing hits the spot on my early mornings like Greek Yogurt. Can you really beat something that is low in fat, has greater than average protein per serving and tastes like dessert?!

Aside from the fact that people rave over how good it is for you (obviously up for debate), I love the versatility of Greek Yogurt because it really gives me the extra bit of nourishment I need with whatever else I eat for breakfast to make sure I make it until lunchtime with out getting hungry. I don’t eat a whole ton of dairy so I don’t feel to guilty eating such a small serving that can provide a good does of protein.

I am always looking for new flavors, however. I’m usually never content with eating cherry and pineapple for very long… but now that I string those two flavors together they might be delicious mixed!

Anyway, as I was looking for something new to try I was in luck! I came across something new from Kroger at Dillon’s.

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Notice anything odd?

They all have veggies in them!

Now, my first thought was “Ashley, you know that stuff with all the added fruit is more sugary and not healthy anyway, just because it says veggies does not mean healthy.”

But, what I think I am most intrigued by are the combinations I NEVER would have thought of! It makes me wonder how I could incorporate them into other recipes.

Wondering how they taste?

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So far I have tried lemon and zucchini and it was just just fine. Fine in that all I could taste was lemon. Which makes sense to me because that is about how zucchini bread is!

This is how they serve up.

There is a separate section for the fruit veggie flavoring that is easy to pour in and spoon out.

I’m hoping I can taste the other flavors better. I may update this post with my findings.

My favorite way to eat greek yogurt is to spoon up some of the unflavored no added sugar fat free kind with a squirt of honey and mixed berries! Hello, Summer!

Have you ever tried strange flavor combinations that turned out amazing? Are you a fan of Greek Yogurt? What is YOUR favorite way to eat it?! Maybe you have a favorite morning rush breakfast food?

*On another note. This is my first blog post using my new camera! I can DEFINITELY see the convenience of using background boards for photographing food. I am having fun finding placements and thinking about ways I can accessorize. So much to learn! 😀

I think I will like having boards that are light natural, barn, and white wood and white tile and marble! oh so much fun to think about.