Monthly Archives: April 2013

Cheese and a Cheat

I cheated.  A small stain on my month of veganhood.  But you know what?  Who cares.  Besides, it wasn’t out of inability to resist cheese or bacon – formidable tempters though they are – but in celebration.  Last night we stayed out until 530am celebrating the dietish’s 30th birthday.  The dietish is one of two other people I share a small broom closet with at work and it has been great to have her to commiserate and collaborate with, to do some gossiping with and to occasionally drink good coffee with.  A big group hit up The Common (the local hipster dance bar) for some drinks and tunes after an uproarious dinner at MRKT.  The time called for shots and, not knowing any good ones I asked the bartender to recommend something good but forgetting to specify “no creamy/dairy booze”.  The result was jagermeister with Bailey’s.  And it took me about 2.5 seconds to decide that living a little is more important than meeting a goal to the exact letter.  It hasn’t changed anything, today I continued with my plant-based diet.

Meals for the week:

Breakfast:  oatmeal (unless I sleep in this will pretty much always be the plan)

Lunch:  the yam and peanut stew is cooling on the stove now.

Supper: salad fixings (including baby kale!), pita, hummus

Treats:  a new dark roast decaf coffee from Ethical Bean.  It is YUMMY!  I always avoided dark roasts assuming it would create a bitter brew however it isn’t.  It is smooth and nutty and rich.  Plus a chocolatey treat that I’ll post about later.

NEW FIND OF THE WEEK:  Fake cheese.  Daiya mozarella to be more precise.  This is one substitute I had been avoiding because it is a bit pricey and my expectations were low.  It turns out that I shouldn’t have waited so long!  Or that I waited precisely the right amount of time to allow my taste buds to forget what real cheese is like.  This is perhaps more realistic.  Regardless of the reason it passes.  Maybe not as a cheese but as a suitable alternative.  I think a pizza is in order!

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The DapperDame is Walking a Little Slower

And is a little more plant-based.  At least that is what I’ve decided to call it.  Vegan is such a touchy word.  Touchy-feely, too.  I don’t feel ethical enough to call myself “vegan” because I’m not going to totally cut things out of my diet for ethical reasons.  If something is dairy, egg, and meat free but may have been processed in a factory that used to process cow meat well…I’m probably still going to eat it.  And I’m still going to wear the leather jacket I bought in the fall.  And, while I do like the idea that, by choosing not to eat meat or dairy, I won’t be eating animals who suffered in terrible factory farms I am even more interested in the health benefits of a plant-based diet and the the philosophy of sustainable consumption for which it allows.  

I said it:  I’m not as compassionate as a true vegan.  I recently read the China Study by T. Colin Campbell.  The book is at least 10 years old and it makes some claims that it doesn’t quite have the research to back up (or didn’t at the time) but it does show some compelling evidence for a plant-based diet over animal proteins for prevention of almost all “diseases of affluence”.  These include type II diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.  The premise is a study that examined the diets of people all over China and found that those who ate the least animal protein had the lowest rates of these diseases – even to the point of being almost non-existant.  All of that to say that he was writing from a perspective of what he believed to be the healthiest diet available not the most compassionate and therefore referred to his diet as “whole foods, plant-based”.  He may very well be vegan but he took the ethics out of the equation for the sake of the book.

You know what?  So far I really like eating this way (save a few cravings) but perhaps I feel a bit more comfortable considering myself as a plant-based eater.  

The other slight development in the story of my plant-based intake is my decreased mobility.  I decided to spend Saturday night at the climbing gym but quickly found myself chatting on the floor with a staff member while icing my ankle:  I had fallen off the wall while bouldering and rolled my right ankle inward and was treated with a beautiful “POP!” sound.  I drove myself home after 30 minutes of icing but found myself pretty immobile (and it was my driving foot, if you’ll recall) the next day. I’ll try to post a photo later but I only took one today so the swelling isn’t as impressive – I just have a uni-cankle.  

Big shout out to Baumer and her friend “C” for very kindly escorting me to and from emerge on Sunday. They even acted as my personal grocery shoppers and got me all kinds of tasty plant-based treats to get me through the week.  Because of them the experiment continues it just includes less elaborate preparations than anticipated and includes a lot of hummus, pita, fresh salads, spirulina juice and oatmeal.  And bags of frozen peas.

Many people have offered to pick up groceries for me and for that I’m very grateful.  I’ve taken a few days off work to ice the ankle, take ibuprofen and rest it in an elevated position.  Thank baby jesus for netflix and books about Mount Everest.  One more day off and then back to work on Thursday.

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The DapperDame is (Hopefully) a Little More Prepared

Week one in veganhood recap:  I feel pretty good.  Of course, the fact that I started the week with a terrible cold and have now ended it with just a hint of a cough means I was going to feel better in general.  It ended up being easier to say no to the usual temptations than I thought.  I read a quote in “Mainstreet Vegan” that basically said they read labels but not in public.  What they meant was if they were out at a party or at a friend’s house and something wasn’t definitely vegan they just preferred to decline politely instead of asking repeated questions about everything (did you cook it with butter? what brand of sugar did you use?) or asking to read labels.

That leads me to the most difficult food experience of the week:  the work potluck.  Bowls and bowls of scrumptious looking food and most of it made up of things I have decided to forgo.  I brought my own lentil dal and a friend offered some quinoa salad that she listed off the ingredients for without my asking.  Another lovely office-mate who knew about my recent dietary preferences even made some yummy date-cocnut balls so that I could partake in dessert as well.  Overall, I left without that heavy feeling of over-indulging and only a bit of regret at all the delicious-looking dishes I didn’t get to try.

How vegan was I?  I’ve allowed myself a few things at home that I had already purchased and had honey in them.  On my first trip to the grocery store I found that I’d often get through the ingredient list thinking:  yay!  No eggs, no sneaky milk products, safe!  Only to find that so many products have warnings of “may contain eggs, milk, etc”.  Since I don’t have an actual allergy I was going to allow those items but decided that they were mostly things I either don’t need or for which there is a brand or substitute that doesn’t have the warning.

Week 2 Food Plan

Breakfast:  banana bread is currently being baked.  When that runs out it is back to oatmeal with sugar, cinnamon, ground flax and almond milk

Lunch:  there is a giant pot of Moroccan Tagine with Spring Vegetables on the stove, a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance.  That plus an apple will do just nicely.  It is an aromatic mix of red lentils, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and spices.

Dinner:  kale was on sale (rhyme!) so kale salad with apple, sunflower seeds, tomatoes and coconut curry tempeh.  I’m a bit afraid I’ll tire of all the kale.

Treats/snacks:  right now I’m simmering a pot of hot chocolate to stifle my cravings for a hot beverage.  I have pita and babaganouj for the munchies.

Surprisingly, after just a week I find my tastes already changing to prefer naturally sweet things.  Date rolls and raisins suddenly look so good.  Even raw zucchini, something I thought I abhorred, was pleasantly tangy.


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Vegan Challenge Days 1 & 2

The big first day has come and gone and day 2 is well underway.  Already there has been a rise in leafy-greens consumption.  Trending.  Yesterday I started the day with a lovely bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon, sugar, ground flax and almond milk added for yumminess.  No major changes there.  Lunch was beluga lentil dal and an apple.  Ambrosia, if you must know.  I opted out of my Tim’s as I walked in to work but realized a vegan goal of mine to get a soy latte.  It turns out that soy milk, when heated to insane temperatures with steam, turns into a toxic concoction of unspeakable chemical-ness.  Never again.  Worst $4.30 I ever spent.  At that price it is better that I hated it.  Coffee will be saved for special occasions when almond milk is available.

Dinner was a salad with apple, tomato and ginger tempeh with ginger dressing.  Drool.  Tempeh is scrumptious.  A new favourite food!  So much tangier and a way better texture than its slimy half-brother tofu.

Avoiding the big blatant stuff has been fairly easy and obvious.  It is the ingredients that are borderline (honey) or confusing.  Since I hadn’t really decided about the honey I’ve decided not to worry too much about it.  The salad dressing was in my fridge and it was vegan other than the honey so I went for it.  No true animal parts consumed but there were bee labourers.  After work today I stopped at the grocery store to grab some lettuce and wandered around to do some label reading.  The scariest part is how many ingredients in my FOOD that I don’t recognize.  Most bread had to be put back down because the last few lines were completely unrecognizable as animal, vegetable or mineral.  I’m guessing something labeled as “dimethylhypochondriate” is going to end up being something squeezed out of a rare mushroom and more likely to be a hidden animal byproduct or something being “recycled” from our lovely petroleum industry.

Next goal:  label literacy.

The DapperDame is Unambitious

Starting my one month of veganhood experiment on Monday, April 8th was intended to be strategic:  it would ensure that I had a free weekend prior (ie not Easter) in order to plan my meals and prepare some interesting and experimental dishes.  Then the fever started Thursday night.  And thus ensued a Friday and Saturday on the couch not moving in order to suppress the cough storms.  I was an entirely pathetic mess.  Thank goodness for wonderful friends like ShanWow who kept me alive with covert, masked deliveries of soup, ginger ale, popcorn, popsicles and a slushie.  But my incapacitation wiped out my glorious plans for trying elaborate new recipes with new foods like stuffed artichokes and ratatouille.  Instead I’ll be relying heavily on salad, apples, and beluga lentil dal.  Don’t judge me.  I’m going to try really hard not to be a vegan that doesn’t eat vegetables which, in fact, is entirely possible.

The big new experiment for the week is going to be tempeh.  They had it on sale so I stocked up with a few different kinds and will use it to power up my salads.  The B12 and Vitamin D have been dug out of my medicine cabinet and placed on the counter to remind me to take them as part of my morning routine.

Tomorrow is also the first day of my level up climbing class to learn the skills to climb outdoors.  But I’m afraid of real rocks so we’ll see what happens.  At least helmets are coming back in terms of sports style.  Preventable brain injuries are so out right now.

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The DapperDame Tried Smoothies

If you read anything about healthy eating or veganism you’ll get the impression fairly quickly that healthy people do smoothies.  HealthiER people “juice” but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Back to smoothies.  We’re supposed to use these concoctions to sneak in extra antioxidants, phytochemicals and leafy greens.  Determined to be in the health crowd I pulled out my neglected ninja blender and went to work.  One banana, one apple (peeled), a handful of spinach, almond milk, chia seeds, ground flax and a little maple syrup for sweet.  And….blech.  Apparently I didn’t learn my lesson with the lumpy, green Vega mix that I had to do this a second time with veggies from my fridge.  The texture is just undrinkable and, while a few spoonfuls were palatable, two cups is getting old fast.

Here is my smoothie aka cold health soup.  Do I have to do it?