Day 13…Plant Based Living…Sleeping Like It’s My Job!

Prior to May 13, 2015, I hated my bedroom.  It was the one room in my house that actually caused me anxiety.  I would dread the approaching witching hour known as “bedtime” and I viewed it as a torturous act that was meant to inflict great pain.  This is because until May 13, 2015, I was an insomniac.  I have taken every pill known to man to get sleep and was even once prescribed GHB to try to achieve restorative sleep to my life.  Nothing worked.  Nothing, until May 13, 2015.  That was the day that I embarked on Plant Based Living by accepting a challenge to follow a regimen for 22 days and live only on plant based snacks and meals.  Since approximately May 15, 2015, I have slept every night for 8+ hours.  No interruptions.  I dream.  In color.  I remember my dreams when I wake up.  I wake up refreshed.  I wake up alert.  I wake up ready to take on the day.  I do not walk around in the world like a zombie in a drug induced haze.  I don’t sleep walk and leave behind traces of my night-time “walk abouts” to find in the morning.  I sleep.  Heavenly, steady, beautiful sleep…for hours at a time!  Unheard of before now.

On Day 13, I wake up to a lovely smoothie made from banana, mango, spinach, coconut water, avocado, and plant protein powder.  It sounds gross, I will admit, but spinach is one of those greens that has no real flavor when you have fruit with it.  It is an unassuming flavor, the flavor at the front is banana and it’s lovely.  Smoothies are a quick and easy way to enjoy breakfast and, if I’m being honest, I feel like a bit of cheat because a frozen banana makes a smoothie with the consistency of a thick milkshake.  It’s a beautiful thing.

 

Banana, Mango, Avocado, Spinach Vanilla Plant Based Protein Powder Smoothie

Banana, Mango, Avocado, Spinach Vanilla Plant Based Protein Powder Smoothie

 

For lunch, on this day, I enjoyed leftover sweet potato and black bean chili.  Like any other chili, it was much, MUCH more flavorful the day after!  I’m glad to learn this because I froze two additional servings for later consumption.  In fact, I have been filling my freezer with any and all left overs so that I can enjoy them later when things are too rushed and I need a quick and healthy viable option for a meal.  I even packaged them for one serving so as not to over-indulge!

 

Ready to serve Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ready to serve Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

 

The afternoon snack consisted of the walnut chocolate bar.  It’s a very dense protein bar.  The chocolate is very dark and the walnut is a nice pronounced compliment.  It has the consistency of a tootsie roll, it is that dense.  At first bite, I did not care for this bar, much preferring the fruit bar as opposed to this chocolate bar.  On this day, I decided that my initial tasting was inaccurate.  I like this bar.  If I have to eat chocolate, I would prefer it be this bar rather than some nasty American chocolate made with yogurt, sour, yuck bar.  I think if I enjoy it with a cup of tea it will be much better.  There is a next time.

 

Walnut Fudge Protein Bar

Walnut Fudge Protein Bar

Which brings me to dinner.  Today was Cauliflower “rice” with lemon, mint, and pistachios served over fresh greens.  Instead of serving it “over” the greens, I made a green salad.  I made the cauliflower rice and, since I am the only one eating this, I should have considered that when you pulse cauliflower in the food processor, it grows…it grows exponentially!  This is a raw meal and, while I generally prefer something cooked for dinner, I opened my mind, asked my saboteur to dine elsewhere for the evening, and I had my dinner.  It was ok.  Not great.  Just ok.  It is more like the cauliflower tabbouleh that I have always made, so I was left unimpressed; though not because it was a bad recipe, necessarily, but more because it wasn’t unique.  It is just more of what I already know.  It was tasty.  I would not bring it back around, however, because I prefer my tabbouleh to this “rice” creation.

 

Cauliflower "rice" with lemon, mint, and pistachios

Cauliflower “rice” with lemon, mint, and pistachios

 

Overall, today was another success.  I am enjoying reading about new things, making better and cleverer decisions for my health, sleeping, and enjoying a better quality of life.  After all, one should be looking for an improvement of their quality of living every day for to improve your quality of life, the trickledown effect of positive abundance impacts the greater good and eventually everyone in your sphere of influence will benefit from your positivity, making their own and so on and so on…rippling through the world…one positive flow after another.  Here is a before/during photo.  The after photo will be when the challenge is done, then I will do another photo for the second 22 days that I will challenge myself to continue the journey…

 

Transformation.

Transformation.

 

 

This entry was posted on May 29, 2015. 6 Comments

Day 12…Plant Based Living…Getting Easier, Becoming a Habit

I woke up this morning feeling energized and ready to take on the day. I am sleeping like a corpse these days and I am reflecting back and not remembering ever sleeping as soundly and restfully as I have been since I started this new way of living.  I am enjoying this life change immensely.  My body is pain free, my sleep is filled with vivid dreaming, and my waking hours are wonderful and alert.  I am embarking on yet another change in the next week or so by incorporating exercise back in to my life, in a sustainable and enjoyable way, and I am going to begin a regimen of supplements and vitamins.  I feel that this is all very necessary to keep pharmaceuticals out of my life on a permanent basis.  This is a life change and must change all of my life in order to succeed.

For breakfast this morning I enjoyed the vanilla chia pudding.  This time I made only one portion so that I didn’t have to feel pressured to find someone to eat the other portion like I had to do last time.  I am learning that not everyone is as supportive as they say they are and they get quite negative if I ask “would you like to try it?”  It’s odd because I’ve always asked people if they wanted to try something new that I was eating, but whatever, this is my journey, no one else’s.  For those of you reading this, I hope you’ll at least try something if asked I mean, you can try anything once!  So I had my chia pudding and berries and it was more enjoyable than the first go round.  I think the reason why is that I now know what the portion is intended to be and the berries are quite filling.  The taste and texture have grown on me and I have decided this is another of the “adding to my permanent” menu items.

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Vanilla Chia Pudding with fresh blue berries

For lunch, I had made the night before, a red quinoa, almond, baby arugula salad with cantaloupe.  I had never eaten arugula before.  If you haven’t eaten it before, let me describe it to you…it’s nutty tasting, soft, and very interesting.  I would like to try this with a Boston Bibb lettuce or my red leaf lettuce along with a tangy balsamic and pears and walnuts after the 22 days are over!  This salad was quite tasty.  The dressing was very simple and light and allowed the flavors of the fruit, nuts and arugula to meld well without overpowering the salad as dressings tend to do, in my opinion.

Baby Arugula, Cantaloupe, Almond salad

Baby Arugula, Cantaloupe, red quinoa, Almond salad

For my afternoon snack today, I had the peanut butter and jelly snack balls.  NO DANGER that these will EVER go bad in my house or at my office!  Everyone who has tried these has loved them.  They literally taste like a small burst of PB&J.  All you need are unsalted roasted peanuts, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and a cup of black raisins.  Dump it all in a food processor and process until the mix starts to stick together.  It does take a minute or so, be patient.  Then using a teaspoon, scoop out a teaspoon full into your palm and form balls.  Please them on parchment paper and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to really firm up.  They are amazing!  I enjoyed two of these.  When I got home, the remaining 18 were gone.  I think I may have PB&J thieves lurking around.

Raw Peanut Butter and Jelly Balls

Raw Peanut Butter and Jelly Balls

Now, dinner…I was looking forward to dinner.  Dinner was a sweet potato and black bean chilip with steamed broccoli.  The recipe claimed that the dried beans would be ready to eat within 25 minutes.  The recipe was wrong.  It took over an hour for the beans to be tender enough to my liking.  All in all, however, the chili was quite good.  A little bit of a bite and a whole lot of flavor.  The sweet potato tends to cook down and disappear, I believe that is what gave it the chili texture.  I will keep this recipe in my arsenal of do-overs and repeat meals.  I froze the left-overs and brought some for lunch on day 13.  I really enjoyed this dish.

Cooking the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Cooking the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ready to serve Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ready to serve Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

My general feeling today was one of exceptional health.  I continue to reflect on my history from 1989 to the present and I cannot remember a time when I was happier, healthier, or less tired.  I go to bed and I sleep when I am supposed to, I wake up refreshed, remembering dreams, and looking forward to a day without pain.  I’m so thankful.  Life is so much better when you have no pain.  I feel my disposition actually lightening and my mood elevating and I find scant little to be bitter or negative about.  In fact, I caught myself listening to the negativity of other people and I actually identified a bit of resentment toward them…I really dislike negativity and I make every effort to attract positive so that I have no room for negativity.  Life is too short to be in pain or angry or negative.  Live.  There is No Day But Today!

Day 11…Plant Based Living…Lethargic and Hungry…why is that?

Today is day 11, and I have slept like a corpse for the last 10 nights.  I have been pain free, swelling has drastically reduced, and my blood pressure is pretty fine.  Overall, my disposition has been good, I’m in a great mood most all day, every day over the last 10 days has brought more and more joy to my life.  I actually look forward to getting up and moving along.  My weight is coming down quite rapidly.  I was a bit worried at first but when I consulted my doctor, she said that since I had a good amount of weight to lose, that it would come off fast, and then plateau and taper off when I reached my body’s ideal weight.  I have to say, I am enjoying the fact that clothing I spent a lot of money for is again fitting me better than it has in months.  I may actually have black pants in my wardrobe choices again.  HA!

This morning, I had almond milk with puffed rice cereal and a sliced banana.  This was a challenge for me as I had not, to this point, had almond milk in its true form.  I had previously added it to recipes, but it was always to incorporate something else, it was never just almond milk.  I have been buying the unsweetened vanilla almond milk in the carton, not the refrigerator section, and I have been happy with it thus far.  Again, I had not consumed it prior to this meal, as a standalone option.  I poured the cereal, I cut the banana, I poured the almond milk, and I commenced eating my breakfast.  I didn’t die.  It wasn’t awful.  It was almost like drinking skim milk, only it actually had a slight almond/vanilla flavor.  Hey!  It was actually quite good.  I think the key is that it was cold, that I had previously only consumed skim milk, so the texture wasn’t bad, but the flavor was actually pleasant.  I was surprised.  I would incorporate this breakfast option in my “on the run” category and would definitely return to have this again some day soon after the 22 days are over.

The lunch option today was the Kale, Apple, Raisin and Creamy Curry Dressing Salad.  I love all of these ingredients, so I was looking forward to lunch today.  The salad was ample enough that I had to pay special attention to my stomach because long before the food ran out I found myself 80% full.  The book that I am following along with says to pay attention to your body, once you reach 80% capacity, stop eating.  I listened and I am glad that I did.  I was full fairly quickly but ate almost all of the salad.  I would make this dish again but would pay closer attention to the dressing as I feel it lacked something…it was very thick…I feel that it should have had more liquid.  I will check this out again in the future and make note.

Kale, Apple, Raisin Salad

Kale, Apple, Raisin Salad

My afternoon snack was trail mix.  I have all of the ingredients but I didn’t make any.  So, instead, I went to Trader Joe’s and bought some.  I also skipped the snack today.  I wasn’t hungry and was still full from lunch.

At dinner time, I don’t know what happened between lunch and dinner.  I feel that I was full.  I feel that I was satisfied.  I feel that I was more than correct in foregoing the snack as I wasn’t hungry.  I ensured that I drank the appropriate amount of water today and I don’t know why, but something happened between work and home; between lunch and dinner…I became famished.  To the point of being edgy (so unlike the attitude I had cultivated over the last several days) and I was trying to prepare my husband’s meal (cauliflower, sautéed ham, onion, with tomato paste and chick peas) and also prepare my meal of Sweet Potato Lime Burgers and steamed basil green beans with olive oil.  I was taking inventory of my feelings and my body while trying to assemble and cook two meals at once.  I noticed that I was edgy, hungry, (I supposed Hangry is a good new word to use here) and tired.  Very, very tired.  I have been taking B-12 every day, but I haven’t yet explored and secured a good vegan multivitamin.  I am toying with taking juice plus, but haven’t found anyone to speak with about the product.  Maybe I had some sort of a deficiency.  I don’t know, all I know is that I wanted to eat and sleep…in that order, precisely.

Dinner was a sweet potato lime burger with steamed basil green beans.  I sat down to eat and was so completely consumed by the smell of the sweet potato, the taste of the small bite of red pepper flakes and the tasty overall feeling of the burger that I ate quite deliberately and slowly, taking in all of the flavors and scents and I enjoyed my dinner.

Sweet Potato Lime Burgers

Sweet Potato Lime Burgers

After taking a photograph and washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen, and making my lunch for day 12, I realized that I am ½ way through my 22 days…that went quickly!  I’m amazed at how well I feel, how well I sleep, and how well I am thinking these days.  I went to bed at 8:30, I was woken once by the dog to go outside, I returned to my slumber and slept until 6:05a.m.  Life is good.

This entry was posted on May 28, 2015. 4 Comments

Day 10…Plant Based Living…Memorial Day, a day of triumph

This morning, day 10, I awoke to a smoothie made with 22 Day Nutrition Plant Based Protein Powder, frozen blue berries, coconut water, avocado, and cinnamon.  It was quite tasty.  No greens in this one, which is odd; thus far every smoothie has had greens of some sort in it.  This was good.  I didn’t think I would like coconut water.  At first taste, I was right, but then something grew on me and I took another swig.  It is quite refreshing.  I may try more of it later on down the road, after the 22 days.

I don’t take any photos of the smoothies because, well, quite honestly, there is really nothing to take a photo of…smoothies are fairly boring to look at and well, maybe I should reconsider, but nah, I’m thinking not.

Lunch was another fear factor moment for me.  I have never cooked lentils, nor have I ever incorporated any foreign spices, such as cumin and curry, in my cooking.  Don’t get me wrong, I happen to think, and so do a few vocal others, that I am a fairly good cook.  I love to entertain.  I love to feed people and hear their reactions.  It wasn’t until this challenge that I actually recognized how limited my palate was and how many spices were in the world that I was not utilizing, in some way, to enhance flavors.  I have never ventured outside of my comfort zone which happens to be fairly diverse:  Austrian, American, Puerto Rican, and, of course, if you have been paying ANY attention, Vatican style Italian.  Now I have begun to incorporate Turmeric, Cumin, Curry, Smoked Paprika, and so on. It is lovely to experiment with the flavors and to learn new styles of preparing and cooking foods.  It is interesting as well as lovely.  I’m having fun.

Day 10 consisted of a lunch menu of Easy Curried Lentils with Avocado Croutons.  I was intimidated by the curry, the lentils, and the avocado, but I entered the kitchen with the notion that I was going to make something new and exciting and that the flavors would be perfect!  After a day at the garden center and planting some pops of color all over the front and back yards, my husband and I went inside to enjoy some lunch.  He opted for left over BBQ from the day before and I set out to make my lentils.  He was too impatient to await my preparation and plating, so he went ahead and heaped piles of pasta salad, potato salad and chicken on his plate.  I set out to cook a masterpiece.  The lentils took about a half hour to complete and the wait was well worthwhile.  Lentils, in particular this recipe, is going to be staple in my home – especially my winter menu selections.  The curry and cumin were beautiful in this dish, it was colorful and filling and something I will return to, I know, time and time again.  LOVED this.

Curried Yellow Lentils Cooking

Curried Yellow Lentils Cooking

Curried Yellow Lentils, served up with avocado "croutons"

Curried Yellow Lentils, served up with avocado “croutons”

My afternoon snack was supposed to be hummus with veggies, but I opted not to have an afternoon snack on this day, I was simply too full from lunch and was anticipating dinner, which was a repeat of the Quinoa and black bean salad from last week.  Only this time I actually utilized quinoa from Trader Joe’s freezer section.  It was just straight up quinoa, nothing fancy, no flavors added, just a serving of quinoa.  I’m glad I purchased this frozen side dish.  I was beside myself having conversation about the texture of all of the quinoa that I have made thus far and I was slightly disappointed at my lack of knowledge of this seed, its nutrients, its uses, and generally anything about it.  Since I had never previously consumed it, it was hard for me to tell if I was cooking it correctly as the texture, again, leaves something for my palate to desire.  I learned that I was, in fact, cooking it correctly.   The quinoa black bean salad was tasty and was also so large I could not finish it.  I was still full from the lentils.

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Dessert was also a repeat, chocomole.  I was not in the mood for chocolate and so I did not have dessert on this day either.  I find that my decisions on what and how much to eat are no longer based on my eyes being bigger than my stomach.  They are now based on my actual contemplation and questioning of whether or not I am hungry.  If I am hungry, I eat dessert or have another bite.  If I am not hungry, I do not continue to eat, nor do I have dessert, I just stop and I have a glass of water with lemon to ensure that I satisfy any thirst and I enjoy what I am eating now instead of rapidly consuming something without enjoyment.

My observations today are that I am able to make choices wisely, I am able to enjoy my food without relying on it as a means for comfort or guilt but rather as a means to enjoy what is sustaining my overall happy life.  I am also noticing that my attitude is changing in a positive direction and that everything and everyone around me is falling into place, either synching with my newfound attitude or moving outside of my sphere of influence.  I am finding that people will either make negative comments about what they perceive a plant based diet to be in the guise of making suggestions that I see a doctor because plant based living isn’t meant for the human body, or to take supplement/vitamin thus and such because I am not getting all of the nutrients I need, or by simply rolling their eyes and making crass comments about how I will fail and return to meat eating as soon as the 22 days are over.

I think, for me, the thing is that I don’t mind if my world becomes smaller, or that people that once claimed to be my friends or to love me gravitate outside of my sphere of influence.  I don’t mind one little bit.

My new mantra…

Everything happens for a reason,

people come and go with the seasons.

And in my life, I will have results and not reasons.

So be it.

This entry was posted on May 28, 2015. 4 Comments

Day 9…Plant Based Living…Memorial Day/Friends Visiting from Out of Town BBQ.

I woke up on morning 9, very excited about the day.  We had friends visiting from out of town who used to live here in Connecticut.  They are the best house guests ever, they come and go as they please, never get in the way, let us know in advance if they are dining with us or not, and are never intrusive.  We look forward to their visits and, because one of them is from here, the added bonus is that she has many friends and some family who still reside here so they visit.  On this particular visit, we decided to host a BBQ and invite a few friends and former co-workers and made this BBQ a successful visit with people we haven’t seen in a long time, and catch up on each other’s lives.  It was sure to be a wonderful day.

In the morning, I got up and prepared my Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal.  I have to say, I love these quick rolled oats, they are really creamy and gluten free.  I’m not sure I would have sought out gluten free, but these happened to be and I will buy these time and time again.  The oatmeal recipe was tasty and my favorite combination of apples and cinnamon, so I was a happy camper right out of the gate.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (Gluten Free)

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (Gluten Free)

In preparing for the BBQ, my husband and I visited our deep freezer to figure out what the day’s menu would entail.  Hot dogs are a given when children are invited, so we took those out along with Italian Sausage, a spiral honey baked ham, and two whole chickens.  This BBQ we did things a bit differently, we actually took people up on their offers to bring something along, so we opted to allow others to prepare side dishes.  My husband smoked the honey baked ham to perfection, prepared the chickens to make smoked beer can chicken, and the hot dogs and sausage were grilled to perfection.  And then it happened…one of my friends walked in with two T-Bone steaks…cut thick…my mouth started to immediately drool…when I was a meat eater, I loved T-Bones.  I loved any steak, actually, and my preference was for the steak to hover slightly over an open flame or, better still, for someone to strike a match in the next room and I would call my steak done.  The rarer, the better.  Blue steak would be my preference.  This was a temptation that I would talk about to myself from the moment that she plopped the steaks down on the counter, my self-talk went something like this:  “So, there’s some left elbow pain right there, some high blood pressure sitting on that counter.  Do you see that swelling in your ankles?  Hey, Shirl, how about you eat a bite of that steak and have a sleepless night tonight?!?”  And do you know what?  It worked.  My salivary glands calmed right down and I happily trotted off to consume the beautifully colorful bowl of Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup that I began to make right after breakfast.  I self-talked myself right back into success and away from my saboteur.  This was another proud moment in my life.  I chose, actively, HEALTH over Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I chose to be sleeping, pain free, and swelling free rather than to indulge for even one bite of a plump succulent steak.  Yes.  It looked good.  Yes.  I wanted one all to myself.  However, YES, my health and happiness are more important than a moment of satisfaction that will result in so much negativity.  I passed a milestone.

Roasted Apple & Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Apple & Butternut Squash Soup

The soup was tasty.  When I was roasting the vegetables and apples, I was having a hard time not simply eating them as they were on the roasting pan!  Honestly, the house smelled like an autumn evening should smell.  I made the soup and wondered if texture would present itself as an issue again, but it didn’t.  The recipe allows for an adjustment of vegetable stock for thickness.  I utilized the option and made it slightly thicker than a soup, but not as thick as a stew.  It was tasty.  Another recipe that I will turn to and another opportunity to try my hand at freezing the remainder of the pot that wasn’t consumed.  I’m building a stock-pile of great plant based eating options!

Dinner was upon us and guests were arriving for the festivities.  If you have ever been to my house, you know that there is never a shortage of food, good times, great company, and laughter.  I love my home.  I love the people who gather there and make it my home…our home…and I love that people are comfortable in our little corner of the world affectionately dubbed “The Cottage Kingdom” by great close friends many years ago.  I decided to allow people to also have healthier plant based options, so I made a fabulous jicama salad with all kinds of fresh, raw veggies like radishes, cucumbers, spinach, arugula, romaine, fresh chives from my garden, and red onions.  I also made a cauliflower tabouli.  A friend brought all veggie “sushi” rolls which were amazingly beautiful and quite tasty, and another friend brought chips, a summer veggie pasta salad, and another brought corn (the same one who brought steak, of course, she’s evil) and there were chips and dips and such.  The BBQ was in full swing.  Again, I challenged myself to stay focused and not to stray from my plan.  In order to do so, I returned to day 8.  Instead of making the planned menu of raw zucchini alfredo, I returned to the eggplant rollatini and ate the left overs.  Intrigued, I offered everyone a taste.  Some liked it, some did not, others were unsure and didn’t even bother to try it, and the meat-loving corn bringer, she doesn’t eat anything except meat, potatoes and corn, so she also refused.  Now, if you read day 8, you know that the last person who matters in this tale of egg plant rollatini is The Grand Pope of Pasta himself, my Italian Husband, Willie…he took a large mouth full of warmed up eggplant rollatini and he declared ‘THIS MEAL SHALL BECOME A STAPLE IN OUR HOME AND CASHEW CHEESE MAY NOW BE DUBBED UNSINFUL”  There you have it, folks.  He actually LOVED it.  It will make a command performance again in the Lenhard household.  I was satisfied.  My guests were satisfied.  I did not feel cheated, neglected, or deprived at all.  I set myself up for success and then I succeeded.

Eggplant Rollatini with Cashew Cheese

Eggplant Rollatini with Cashew Cheese

This was a great day!  I moved on from my left overs to my snack when everyone else was enjoying ice pops and cookies, I had my 22 day nutrition bar.  I loved the fruit flavors and the sweetness of the bar, it acted just fine as a dessert.  I’m finding that when people are watching me enjoy my new plant based eating, they are inquisitive enough to ask questions and to ask if they can try what I’m having, so the bar got passed around…happily.

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Today’s observations are that when people hear that I am doing a plant based life change, they usually start talking, quite uncomfortably, about how many vegetables that they consume.  They start talking fairly rapidly about how they would be more plant based in their eating habits if not for…(insert reasons here)…husband, kids, life, etc.  I find myself listening and thinking that I don’t really need their guilt or justification about why they eat the way they eat.  I just want to enjoy my left elbow bending AND straightening.  I want to enjoy living pain free for the last 9 days.  I want to remember that I was in so much pain from 1989 until now that I never want to feel it again.  I want to sing from the roof tops that my quality of life is so much richer as a result of this conscious decisions.  I want to tell them that it’s ok if they choose something different.  I am not politically motivated.  I am not morally motivated.  I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually motivated to feel this way, this way that I feel on day 9, every day for the rest of my life, however long that it.  I want to feel alive and alert.  I want to not only feel, but believe and actively choose that in life there are one of two things that we all get…(1) results or (2) reasons…and I now have and continue to want results!

Day 8…Plant Based Living…Keeping on and succeeding

This morning marked day 8, and I began the day by making banana pancakes with a cup of blue berries.  Initially, I tried to talk myself out of making it because I had no baking powder…but rationality descended and I looked up “substitutes for baking powder” on google and found that cream of tartar and baking soda would do the trick.  I happened to have both.  So with ingredients in hand, I set out to make the banana pancakes.  I am so glad that I did too!  They were amazingly delicious and the berries added a wonderful touch.  I don’t like syrup much so it wasn’t missed, nor did the recipe call for any syrup.  It dawned on me that I could actually eat these on the run too, since they didn’t require any syrup to taste good.

Gluten Free Banana Pancaked and berries

Gluten Free Banana Pancaked and berries

The portion size was 4 pancakes and no one else was going to eat the batch that I made, so I decided to start an experiment.  I decided to start freezing everything that was more than the acceptable portion suggested.  I started with these pancakes.  My intention is to freeze them and when I want banana pancakes again, I can remove the appropriate portion and place in the toaster so that I can have these “on the run” or as a quick breakfast when I want to avoid cooking something different, after the 22 days, of course!  Below is the portion that I consumed this wonderful morning 8!

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Today, lunch was to be a mango, kale and avocado salad.  I was home alone today, as my husband works every other Saturday, and my house guests for the weekend were off visiting family and other friends for the day, so I was going to make and enjoy a beautiful and colorful lunch with my dog.  I decided to make a ritual of preparing the meal and I intended to eat it outside, in the sunshine, while enjoying every morsel.  Since I have never had this combination in a salad, I was more than looking forward to it.  I carefully prepared my lunch and decided that the best option available to me to make this new meal a success was to pick a beautiful piece of Fiestaware…I know, I am obsessed with these dishes, but they are wonderful.

Mango, Kale, Avocado Salad

Mango, Kale, Avocado Salad

The salad was tasty, tangy, and creamy, the textures were wonderful and the salad was refreshing.  I actually did enjoy this while sitting on my back porch stoop, watching my silly dog lying in the grass and enjoying the break from the long and brutal winter that we endured in New England.  The winter seemed to have lasted all year long, even though it didn’t really kick in until January, it just didn’t seem to want to let go this year and allow spring…so this was a beautiful moment between mom and dog!

In the 22 Day Nutrition book, there is a chapter regarding lifestyle changes and socializing.  I was very interested in that chapter on this day, as my husband and I had been invited, quite some time ago, to accompany my sister-in-law and her husband to a comedy show and to have dinner there.  This invitation came long before I decided that I would embark on this journey and make it a permanent part of my life.  I was hesitant about doing this so soon, yet I knew that I could not avoid living and being a social creature, so I reread the chapter and decided to set myself up for success rather than to predestine failure and wallow in it later.  I went to the comedy club’s website and I read their menu.  I decided that on evening number 8, I would enjoy my regularly scheduled dinner earlier in the day, at home.  This would afford me the opportunity to eat according to the menu plan of the 22 Day Nutrition Plan and then I would reserve my afternoon snack of fruit and, instead, I would order a salad from the comedy club menu.  I enjoyed a spinach salad with cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, without dressing.  I could not identify the dressing, nor its ingredients, so I simply didn’t add it to my salad.  I think, in the future, I will also prepare a dressing and simply bring it with me.  The premise in the book is that if you preview a menu of any establishment, call ahead with any questions, and make yourself as informed as possible, you can succeed, socialize, remain a plant based eater, and everyone is satisfied.  Well, I am here to tell you that it actually worked.

Rewind to earlier in the day, I prepared eggplant rollatini using cashew cheese.  I was a bit concerned with the term “cashew cheese” but after reading the menu and the recipe, I got everything ready the night before and put on a positive face, setting out for success, and knowing that this meal would be excellent.  A college professor of mine once told me “Shirley, when you are uncertain, just fake it until you make it” and I heard him proclaim that loudly in my head…so, thank you, Professor Robert Levine of HCC, you continue to be a part of my life today!  I prepared the eggplant rollatini as directed, plated it, and guess what?  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  However, the true test was to be in the hands of my Italian husband, whose nose turned up at the very mention of some unknown foreign substance being called “cashew cheese” and his eye brows quite literally left his forehead when said foreign substance was claimed to be utilized in place of whole milk ricotta which is, apparently, made from the tears of Christ Himself and is touted as the holy and sacred cheese of Italians something in keeping with the holy and sacred cheese of mozzarella.

Eggplant Rollatini with Cashew Cheese

Eggplant Rollatini with Cashew Cheese

Again, we needed to be social creatures on this evening, my husband worked, so he came and picked me up and we were off to the comedy show (which was very entertaining) and he had made the decision to eat at the show rather than to come in and enjoy my amazing eggplant rollatini.  When we got to the show, I had also made the decision that along with the directives in the book, I was not indulging in alcohol, so I ordered a refillable glass of club soda and a twist of lime along with my salad.  My husband ordered the chicken BLT with a side salad and a few light beers of unknown labeling.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  I drove us home and when we arrived, I got myself ready for bed but I could hear my man, in the kitchen, making a noise that I have only heard him make a few select times…it is a sort of low level hum, followed by a slight smacking sound, and then he appeared, in the bedroom doorway, gesticulating like a mad Italian with something on his mind and the inability to find the right phrase.  Hands speaking in some unknown sign language, lips pursed, he finally outed with it “I gotta give it to ya, babe, that eggplant is pretty fuckin’ amazing.”  Well, I almost died.  He went on to say he only had a fork full, it was still cold, and tomorrow he would give it a warmed over try to make his final determination.  (See Day 9 for details on the final word handed down by the Vatican, you would think!)

Over all, this day was a great success. I feel that out of the 8 days, this day contained three well rounded and tasty meals, all of which I will incorporate into my daily choices.  Day 8 was a resounding success!!!

This entry was posted on May 26, 2015. 6 Comments

Day 7…Plant Based Eating…A Challenge is Accepted!

Breakfast this morning started with ice cream!  Ok, not ice cream, per se, a smoothie, by definition; the consistency was quite thick, more akin to a soft  serve ice cream.  It was quite tasty and so thick that I couldn’t drink it.  I actually needed to use a spoon.  I noticed that I wake up earlier and more alert in the mornings since starting this 22 day challenge last week.  This has afforded me the time that I need to make my breakfasts and actually enjoy them before heading out to work.  So, on this day, I sat in my living room, scooping my peach/banana creation out or a cup with a spoon and enjoying it like it was an ice cream treat.  Then it occurred to me…textures…my fight with textures in the morning, my fight with having non-traditional breakfast items for breakfast…look!  NO RESISTANCE!  I enjoyed my smoothie and then headed out to work.

For lunch, I enjoyed a leftover black bean burger with a small side jicama spinach salad with smoky avocado dressing.  These leftovers were amazing.  If you haven’t read the Day 6 Blog, then you should, it gives great details about how wonderful this recipe really is and how much my husband and I actually enjoyed it.

My afternoon snack was a wonderful golden raisin and almond mix.  It doesn’t sound like a lot but it served its intended purpose, was quite satisfying and tasty.

By the time that I got home from work, I had looked at the dinner menu more than once. In all honesty was I approaching this meal with much trepidation and anxiety.  I think that for some reason, my saboteur was trying to pay a visit, and I hastened my way to the kitchen to start preparations.  Dinner was to be brown rice with a steamed green of choice.  I decided to have brown rice and spinach.   Suddenly, as I was cooking, something amazing happened…that intuitive cook that I used to be when I cooked whatever was in my heart and always ended up terrific, she showed up and took over!  The next thing that I knew I was adding the spinach to the rice, steaming it with various and sundry combinations of dry and fresh herbs and spices.  Suddenly, the Brussel sprouts appeared with a lovely balsamic glaze and the avocado flew off of the menu, sliced itself, and landed nicely on the plate.  I was amazed at the wonderful culinary feast before me.  It was tasty and while I could have presented it a little better I will confess this now…while EVERYTHING looks and tastes better on Fiestaware, I do not do dishes on Friday nights – never have, never will.  So, I resorted to my finest chinette!  Nevertheless, the meal was fantastic!

Brown Rice  and Spinach with avocado slices and balsamic brussels sprouts

Brown Rice and Spinach with avocado slices and balsamic brussels sprouts

Then came the dessert…as I have stated previously, I’m not a dessert person, I prefer fruit to cakes and pies, I have no sweet tooth, but I find that this challenge calls for desserts and I have only tried one.  So, I decided to give it a good try.  I make chocomole, a chocolate pudding sort of recipe with vanilla, pure cacao powder, agave or maple syrup and an avocado.  I don’t like chocolate.  This was a LOT of chocolate; however, the avocado gave it a nice texture and I actually enjoyed a few spoons full.  Still not a dessert person.

I learned a few things about myself today…I can and I will have non-traditional breakfast items now for breakfast without hesitation.  I will make the best of this, no matter what because I am feeling great, sleeping soundly, and having a good time.  I will try desserts more often because its fun to challenge myself to live outside of my nurtured and convenient comfort zone.

This entry was posted on May 23, 2015. 2 Comments