Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 78 Expats have feelings too

Tonight there was a Tu B'Shvat party at my son's school.  (For those who don't know what Tu B'Shvat is, the simple answer is that it's a Holiday something like Arbor Day in the US).  My husband wasn't available to join us, so my boy and I went alone. 

So, I'm such an emotional sap that I still get choked up at every school gathering, and sporting or civic event ESPECIALLY if the Israeli National Anthem is sung.  Tonight I blubbered my way through HaTikvah and then everyone began singing Israeli songs having to do with the Holiday.  Songs, I have never heard before in my life.  OK, no problem, I sat and listened enviously to this entire auditorium of people who all grew up here and share this common cultural heritage.  I consoled myself with the fact that while they may have been raised on some fine, catchy tunes, these native Israelis did NOT have Gilligan's Island.

After the songfest, we retreated with our kids to the classrooms for an activity.   First, we had to do a freakin' word search.  In Hebrew.  Shit.  And then, even worse, three pages of Idioms and Expressions that the parents were suppossed to explain to their kids.  In Hebrew.  Figures of Speech.  Aint nothing harder, folks.  So I sat there with my 3rd grader, beads of sweat breaking out on my forehead, as I tried to puzzle out the answers.  At one point I caught the eye of another parent, a recent immigrant from Ethiopia, who looked just as lost as me.  I seriously doubt they say "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" in Ethiopia. They don't even have apples in Ethiopia.  That Dad had even less hope of completing the activity than I did.

It's not any fun being dumber than a 3rd grader.

Oh, but what is this?  Did the teacher just say that now we will be doing a Cooking Activity?  THAT I can do!!

Here's little Jamie Oliver Jr cutting some fruit:

Dude has the Knife Skills of a Pro.  Wonder who taught him??

When the mother sitting next to us remarked at how exceptionally beautiful our fruit salad was, my little hero puffed up his chest with pride, smiled at me brightly and declared in his perfect unaccented Hebrew, "That's because my mom teaches people how to make healthy food."


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 77 We've Got Quiche!

One of the things I really love and was afraid I would miss as a vegan, is Quiche.  Or as it's called here in Israel, Pashtida.  Thank heavens I was able to come up with a vegan version this week and it is just as yummy as the original with a fraction of the fat, none of the cholesterol and none of the animal cruelty.
Vegan Vegetable Quiche

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cold-pressed coconut oil, olive oil or sunflower oil
1 tsp sea salt
2-3 T cold water

Place flour and salt in FP.  Pulse in fat until uniform and crumbly.  Slowly add water, pulsing, just until dough sticks together in a ball.  Wrap ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

You can use whatever veggies you want, but I water-sauteed 1 onions, 3 zucchini and a few handfuls of spinach.

1 package tofu
1 cup dairy-free milk (I used oat milk)
1 tsp mustard
2 T tahina
2 T Nutritional Yeast (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Blend in FP until smooth and creamy.

Take crust out of fridge and roll into a circle.  Place in your pie plate and pat into place up the sides and forming a lip at the edge.  Place veggies into crust.  Pour filling over veggies.  Then I topped it with tomato slices and a dusting of paprika.  Place in a pre-heated 180 C oven and cook 30-40 mins until firm.

I also made an amazing creamy vegan soup for our guests on Friday night and once again, the pot was licked clean!  Even my kids were begging for 2nds!  This is the first time I have ever eaten Jerusalem Artichokes and I think I'm in love.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
750g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 T olive oil
2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups water
1 cup non dairy milk, again I used oat milk

Saute leeks in oil.  Add jerusalem artichokes and garlic, then potatoes.  Don't cook for too long - you don't want anything to brown or it will discolor the soup.  Add the water, salt and pepper, and simmer covered 30 minutes until everything is soft.  Cool a bit.  Puree soup in blender.  Return to pot.  Thin to your preference with water and/or non-dairy milk.  Bring back to a gentle simmer and serve.  SO GOOD!

Next I give you a green juice that I made and drank at some point.  Purty isn't it?  It had a ton of stuff in it:  wheatgrass, oranges, cucumbers, fennel and celery.  It was yummy.

AND the baby pigeons!  They are almost full grown now.  It all happened so fast.  They fly, but they still rely on their parents to barf in their mouths for food.  Aw, sweet memories...  Here are a few pictures of the two of them hanging out with Dad. 
Is this the little bird I carried....

Is this the little bird at play....

I'm such a dork.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 73 In Defense of the Casserole

Today was boring foodwise, sorry.  I had a banana-orange-strawberry-flax smoothie for brekkie.  For lunch I had the leftovers of yesterday's Kibbeh Casserole and I have to say "Casserole, I was wrong about you baby."  With a little tomato sauce added, it was really really really good.  I am now glad there are leftovers after all.

Dinner will be a veg soup I made but it is so butt-ugly I cannot bring myself to photograph it.  I'm not sure what happened?  It started with normal ingredients: onion, carrot, garlic, cabbage and potato.  But then I went and added red wine and the whole thing turned purple.  I freaked out and threw in some tvp.  That made it look like barf.  Ick.  It tastes good though, so I'm going to close my eyes and eat it.

Because I feel guilty for having no recipes or pictures today, I am instead offering some links to awesome websites with great vegan recipes.  Here ya go.  Enjoy!  (Veganize It, Don't Criticize It)  (The post punk kitchen)

Then of course two of my regular and favorite reads, although not totally vegan, or even vegetarian:

That should keep you busy for awhile.  Happy Surfing!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 72 A Blustery Day

Hang on Piglet!  Just hang on.

This morning I enjoyed a Sesame Mylkshake before heading off to the gym.  In the rain.  On my bike.  Devotion or Stupidity?  You be the judge.

1 banana
1 date
2 cups water
1 T tahini
1 T ground pumpkin/flaxseed blend

After achieving Wrung-out Dishrag Status once again, I ate an orange, got all warmed up in the sauna and headed back home.  Lunch was this My-Eyes-Are-Clearly-Bigger-Than-My-Stomach fiber festival of lentil soup plus a huge salad topped with aduki bean burgers:

Shocking to think I would ever be hungry again after that bean-y lunch, but alas, come dinnertime, it was time to feed again.  Plus, I promised new dishes right?  Well, sometimes new dishes rock and sometimes they suck.... 

Tonight I attempted something called "Chickpea and Eggplant Kibbeh" from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson.  I assumed Kibbeh would be like Kubbeh, a delicious appetizer made of ground lamb and a crunchy bulgur shell.  First I had to overcome the fact that I had no idea what "bulgur" is in Hebrew and accidentally left the house without consulting a dictionary.  Many thanks go to Andrea who answered my distress call, consulted her dictionary, and provided me with the completely unpronouncable בורגול

Nevermind, I got the bulgur in the end without having to make a greater fool of myself than I do on any normal day.  I soaked it in boiling water, mixed it with chopped chickpeas and spices and it looked like this:
Then I sauteed onions, eggplant, pinenuts and lemon juice:
Then I layered first the bulgur-chickpea mixture as botton crust, the eggplant mixture as filling and the remaining bulgur-chickpea as top crust:
So, it looks nice but truthfully, it is completely boring.  Not to mention the enormous amount of unappetizing leftovers, sigh.

At least the wine was good.

P.S.  I made homemade Tapioca Pudding for my family's dessert tonight.  If there is any food less vegan than tapioca pudding, I have not come across it yet.  Now, I'm obsessed with veganizing it.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 71 Too Much Wiggle Room

Here I am 3/4's of the way through this 100-Day Vegan Challenge and I find myself slipping and sliding all over the place. 

I think it started with that Japanese dinner the other night.  We ate at the same restaurant my husband and I ate at on New Year's Eve.  I requested that my friend meet me there because I knew they had that one vegan dish: Stir-fried Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables.  When I went there with my husband, the hostess must have heard me speaking and automatically handed me the English menu.  There was no description of the dish except that title.  When I went with my girlfriend the other night I got the Hebrew menu and there, clear as the nose on my face, it said "egg noodles" and had a symbol indicating the sauce contained fish sauce.  "Oh well"  I thought.  "I've already eaten it unknowingly once and I didn't turn into a pumpkin or anything.  What's one more time?"

Well, that would have been fine.  But as often happens on the Slippery Slope, that two-time oops translated into a taste of this and a bite of that and I find myself not quite as vegan as I'd like to be.

It would have been easier and a lot less personally embarassing, to keep this bit of info to myself.  But because I'm using this blog as a chance to allow people to get to know me and to understand my health counseling work, I felt this was an important thing to walk through in public.

You see, I work with people making behavior changes around their diets and their personal habits.  Often this pattern will occur where the excitement of the new beginning carries a client through for a month or two.  Then they have a test or a slip and they can find themselves beginning to slip more and more often.  This is the point where I am in danger of losing them and they are in danger of losing everything they have worked for to that point.  For those that don't run away from their programs, I walk them through the following strategy:

1.  Re-visit your goals.  Why are you doing this in the first place?  Do those goals still speak to you or do they need to be updated?

2.  Go back and review your early results.  This is why I am adamant that my clients keep journals and/or food logs.  Otherwise it is too easy to forget what you were doing when things were good and how much better you were feeling.

3.  Take a look at the path you have currently stepped onto and take it out a few more miles in your mind.  Will your current path take you to where you want to go, or do you need to make a course correction?

4.  Were you trying to be too perfect before?  Sometimes when we aim for 100% pure perfection, one little mistake sends us to "Nevermind-what's-the-point-anyway Land".  The goal should be just to do the best you can.  Are you doing the best you can?

5.  My approach is to focus on what you CAN DO, not what you can't.  What can you do today to get yourself back on track?

That's it really.  It's not difficult, but it IS really important to do before the little course deviations become giant, difficult direction changes.

So, back to ME:

I looked back to the earlier days of this blog and I see a lot more interesting variation and food experimentation.  Perhaps I was getting into boring food ruts lately and that led to stepping off my path.  So, my plan for tonight is to curl up with some vegan cookbooks and plan out some dishes I'd really love to try. 

Tomorrow I'm listening to some of the free Compassionate Cooks podcasts on itunes.  Colleen Patrick-Goudreau could probably convince a tiger to go veg.  Her website is:  and her excellent, inspirational podcasts which can be found for free on itunes, are called "Vegetarian Food For Thought".

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 67 Fly-by

Quick post because my girlfriend is picking me up any minute to go out for Japanese food.

Breakfast today was a creamy rich date shake:

I drank this after a really tough weight workout that left me feeling like a wrung-out dishrag.  I needed something thick, sweet and fortifying.

Sweet Date Shake
1 banana
3 dates, pitted
1 T tahina
1 T unsweetened carob powder
1/2 cup rice milk
1 cup water

Lunch was a leftovers extravaganza:

Leftover Rice + Leftover Spicy Soup w/Chickpeas + Leftover Smoked Tofu Strips

Snack was raw fruits and veggies.  Dinner will by Japanese w/my gal O-Shay.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 66 Burrrrrrritos!

I feel a cold coming on, so I started my day with the juice of a grapefruit and 2 oranges:

My lunch, inspired by an Engine 2 recipe, as the title suggests, was a rockin' bean burrito!

First I made a batch of Red Lenitl Hummus.  If you're a client of mine you have probably tried this recipe, as I use it quite a lot.  Otherwise, it's in Get It Ripe, so I can't post it online.  Email me privately and we'll see what we can do, but seriously, you need to buy this cookbook already.  You can see how often I use it.  And no, I don't know the author or benefit in any way by promoting it.  It's just a really good cookbook.

Anyway, I spread a layer of red lentil hummus onto a whole wheat tortilla.  I'm sure you could use whatever commerical hummus you had available or even fat-free canned refried beans:

Then I added a layer of water-sauteed Swiss Chard (Mangold for my Israeli readers) and onions:

Then I rolled it up, topped it with salsa and popped it into the oven for a few minutes to warm it all up.

So Yum.
This will be my new Go-To Lunch.  Next time I'm going to make it with onions, peppers and mushrooms.  And maybe some tofu sour cream to top it off?  Guacamole maybe?  The possibilities are endless.

In the afternoon I was jonesing for something sweet so I whipped up a batch of raw cookies with a new twist:

Oat-Gogi-Cacao Balls

1 cup oats
dash sea salt
1/2 cup raisins
6 Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 T natural peanut butter
2-3 T water
2 T sesame seeds
2 T gogi berries
2 T raw cacao nibs

Process oats and salt in food processor until finely ground.  Add raisins, dates, almond extract and peanut butter.  Process until mixture begins to hold together, adding water slowly until it begins to form a ball. Add sesame seeds, gogi berries and cacao nibs and just pulse a few times to coarsely chop.  Roll into balls.  Eat.  Have lots and lots of energy.

Then go see Avatar in 3-D beacuse it's amazing.
(But try not to see it in a foreign country where your command of the written language is poor, because when the Navi speak to one another, the subtitles will be in Hebrew and there's no way in heck you'll be able to read them fast enough.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 65 Spicy Soup for a Rainy Day

The morning started with a Green Smoothie.  I didn't photograph it because it looks the same as every other green smoothie.  It had a banana, an orange, 3 passioflora, a handful of micro-greens and about 2 cups of water.  (I'm out of flaxseeds, egads).

Then I had a really tough full body workout with cardio intervals and was starving by the time I finished up.  So I had breakfast again!

Whipped Banana Oats with Coconut
3 smoked tofu strips
side salad of baby greens and tomato

I was super duper full after all of that and didn't need to eat again until around 4pm, when I ate hummus on a few rice cakes.

Dinner was Soup & Salad

Gypsy Soup
(based on a recipe of the same name in the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen)

1 T olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp Hawaij for soup
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder (smoked jalapeno)
pinch saffron
salt and pepper to taste
splash red wine
1 cup crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted if that's an option)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5 cups water

Saute onions in oil, add remaining vegetables.  Add spices.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.  Deglaze pan with wine.  Add tomatoes, chickpeas and water.  Bring to a boil.  reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes ot until flavors and blended to your taste.

I served the above with a cheesy cornbread for my family.  It would be a good vegan meal with some vegan cornbread, like this one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 64 Vegetarianism Brings Peace to the Middle East

This was sent to me from my friend Andrea.  It appeared in this week's HaAretz newspaper:
Can a vegetarian chef help solve the Mideast conflict?

source: haaretz

Could vegetarianism help solve the Middle East conflict? U.S. celebrity chef Christina Pirello, who is currently in Israel teaching about vegetarian cooking, doesn't suggest peace would break out the moment Israelis and Palestinians stopped eating schnitzel and shawarma. She believes, however, that meat causes people to lose their ability to accept somebody else's point of view and that most conflicts in the world could be solved if people ate less meat.

"Meat tends to make people opinionated and inflexible in many ways, physically as well as psychologically," the 54-year-old told Anglo File this week. "One thing I've noticed in my many years of keeping a plant-based diet is that people who eat plants - while they may not always agree with each other - always see the other opinion as valid. Sometimes the things we eat, particularly when they contain chemicals, sugars and saturated fat, it clouds your vision a lot."

Pirello, who won the 1998 Emmy Award for her U.S.-wide televised cooking show, is a vigorous proponent of a vegan diet, which strictly consists of plant-based and unprocessed foods, such as grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. Supporters of the diet believe the food they do eat has tremendous powers. Pirello, for instance, believes switching to a vegan lifestyle 26 years ago saved her at a time when doctors who diagnosed her with leukemia told her she had only six months to live.

Despite the apparent limitations, vegan dishes should still be "sexy, delicious and luscious," the Philadelphia-based Pirello said, while serving a purpose in life. "If I need to be strong and focused, should I be eating
 sugar as much as I like? If I need to be more relaxed should I eat so much salt? We pay much more attention to the way food affects us than any other style of cuisine," she asserts.

For Ginat Rice, the U.S.-born immigrant hosting Pirello during her 9-day visit, macrobiotics is much more than a diet. "It's a way of life, it includes the thoughts we think. It's not only the peas and the carrots, it's also my attitude. And I find that my attitude improves the better I eat," she told Anglo File, hours before over 50 people crowded her Jerusalem apartment for Pirello's first class on Sunday. Throughout the year, Rice and her husband Sheldon offer classes in macrobiotics as well as shiatsu.

While Rice says it is impossible to estimate how many people in Israel follow a macrobiotic diet, an increasing number is interested in alternative approaches to food. She said getting people in Israel - which has a strong meat eating culture - to change, but that she finds much openness and awareness of natural food here.
"In the U.S., I find people are more square - saying this is what mother cooked, and what her mother cooked, etc," she added. "Here people are much more willing to listen to new ideas."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 61 Dr. Fuhrman needs to learn how to simplify in the kitch

First off, I just want to say that my heart goes out to the victims and families of the earthquake in Haiti.  It's totally ridiculous to be chuckling over my dietary adventures when such a staggering tragedy has occurred.  I completely understand this fact and I have no good defense for myself.  May the suffering soon come to an end and the world be united in support for the survivors as they work to put their shattered lives back together.

                      *                                 *                                       *

As promised, I tackled Dr. Fuhrman's famous Anti-Cancer Soup yesterday.  It took about an hour all told and managed to dirty several major appliances.  I'm thinking that probably Dr Fuhrman doesn't have to wash his own dishes.  The soup was good, but it wasn't THAT good.

The actual recipe can be found here.  Here it is in pictures:

Into a pot you put green split peas, whole onions, whole zucchini, whole leeks and a little water.  You start that cooking while you juice this:

That's a big mess o'carrots and celery and it makes this:

You add the carrot-celery juice to the veggies and peas in the pot.  Wash your juicer and chop a bunch of mushrooms.  By then, the veggies in the pot are soft and you can take them out and puree them in your blender:

Then you add raw cashews to the blender. 

The cashews are there to make the soup creamy and smoky-tasting.  Also, the soup has not had any oil or fat yet, so here the cashews will be taking that role in a very healthy way.

Finally you add in the mushrooms and some tvp plus whatever sort of seasoning you're using (I used salt, pepper and Hawaij for soup, because I have decided that everything is better with Hawaij on it).

Let it cook for another 20 minutes or so while you clean the disaster that is now your kitchen and finally...

Soup.  Everybody ate it.
(although I am willing to consider the possibility that they were afraid of what would happen if they didn't...)

Lastly, because man cannot live on soup alone, I give you  Dog + Shoe:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 60 I Explain the Process

"A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness."
- Elsa Schiaprelli

Today I want to address the question I get most often in email: 

"How do you have the time to cook all that?"

OK, so now you will get to know me for what I truly am:  An Organizational Geek.  My mask is off and my true Fly Lady training has been revealed.  I am not one of those people who can fly into the kitchen at 5:45pm, look at what is available and throw together an amazing meal.  And because I am not willing to call in take-out very often and I do my best to avoid packaged, processed foods, I have got to have a Plan.  Stan.

It all starts will a menu of the family favorites. I took some time one day and typed up about 3 pages of vegetarian meals, animal meals, soups, salads, dressings, sides, and desserts which at some point in time someone at the table said "Not Bad, Mom."  It's in my Kitchen Control Journal along with the relevant recipes.  (Shameless Plug:. Private Nutrition Clients are guided through a process of creating their very own Kitchen Control Journals.  This madness can be yours too!)

Step two is sitting down once a week, usually a Thursday, sometimes a Saturday night (hot social life that I have) and planning out what we will eat more or less for every single meal and snack.  I take ideas from the family favorites list and also from one or two cookbooks that I rotate each week or so.  I sit with the date book in front of me so I can see which nights different family members have sports, or meetings, or classes or whatever, and I plan accordingly.

That gives me a plan that looks like this:

Sure, things change and I cross things out, or move them forward.  But having the basic plan gives me peace of mind.  I a regular mom, wife, chief cook and bottle-washer who happens to be running her own business as well.  I don't think I have any more time or less time than anyone else.  I can honestly say that I am rarely in the kitchen for more than an hour or two a day and that's cooking 4 meals a day and cleaning up as well.  I don't cook complicated things very often.  We eat leftovers quite a lot.  I work quickly.  I've had a lot of practice.  The kids are put to work too beacuse I want them to know how to cook when they're off on their own.

That said, I'm not perfect.  Sometimes we still fall back on pizza or falafel.  Sometimes I make things that turn out really awful.  I'm sure my kids would prefer pasta and schnitzel tiras every night.  I'm just doing my best to eat healthy and feed my family healthy things.  If they come to your house and eat nothing but potato chips, soda and cake, you don't need to gleefully report that to me.  They're normal children.  I know they love junk food as much as the next person.  How they eat outside of the house is not for me to control.  I do my best to feed them well at home, to teach them about nutrition and cooking and to not make too big a deal about "forbidden foods" or whatever.

Now, if you'll pardon me, I've got a date with Neon, my patient, blonde belly-dance teacher.  Then, I'm going to go back on what I just said above and spend a really long time in the kitchen trying to create a dubious looking soup recipe by Dr Fuhrman with the auspicious title of "Anti-Cancer Soup."  I will of course be taking pictures and blogging all about it...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 57

Hi Everyone!  Here's a re-cap of some of what we ate for Shabbat:

First, I found these really cute little acorn squash at Eden Teva.  So I halved them, scooped out the seeds, roasted the seeds with a drop of olive oil, sea salt and dash of cayenne pepper. 

Then, I burned them:


None-the-less, my husband and sons scooped up the lot of them on their way out the door to the beach and I heard them mumbling "I don't know what these are, but they're good."

And yes, I did say "beach".  In January.  The weather here is DIVIIIIIIINE!  Sorry, people who live in cold places.  I was one of you my entire life and I have to say that life is so much better like this!

Alas, I stayed home from the beach this time to allow for Male-Bonding and to finish cooking for Shabbat. 

These are the mini acorn squashes, which I roasted and then stuffed with brown rice, pecans, sauteed onions and spinach.  No recipe.  I just winged it.

Then I made the Vegan Pot Roast from Robin Robertson's Vegetarian Comfort Food:

Does that not look like meat pot roast???  Wow, it has all the same ingredients but with seitan instead of beef.  All that great taste and warm, comforting sensation with NO cholesterol, no saturated fat, no animal suffering and NO death.  That's what I'm talking about!  It was really yummy.

I also made roast baby potatoes with garlic and rosemary, a cooked zuchini-tomato salad, and for my carnivores I made schnitzel (breaded, fried chicken breast cutlets.  NOT vegan of course and not remotely healthy, but they have been such sports, they deserved a break). 

Today I ate the pot roast leftovers for lunch and tonight I'll have the squash leftovers for dinner.  I heart leftovers!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 54 is all GREEN

Green Smothie for Breakfast:

Banana, Passioflora, Flax, Water and Spinach

Split Pea Soup for Lunch:

Snack will be nuts and raisins (not green).  Dinner with be another big Spinach Salad and probably a baked sweet potato with tahina.  Truthfully I was inspried after listening to Karen Knowler's teleclass called "Raw Food Reset" today.  I've got a big event next week that I want to be at the top of my game for and the 3-day plan Karen set forth to get anyone sparkling and grooving in no time flat really appealed to me.

If you've got an hour to get inspired about your diet, listen to this.  It's free, but only for the next 48 hours or so:

Lastly, my big news is that my baby pigeon chicks are learning to fly.  They have grown so quickly it is just astounding.  They have now taken two parent-assisted flights and returned home safely and very hungry both times.  Yeah, so I don't want to be all corny and predictable, but I must say that I'm on a similar journey lately and it sure is nice to have the company.

"Fly away skyline pigeon fly, towards the dreams you left so very far behind..."
                                                                                                              -Bernie Taupin

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 52: I Take a Lickin' and Keep on Tickin'

Yesterday was not the best of days.  I had a minor professional disaster.  If you were there you know what I'm talking about.  If you weren't, well, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, sorry.

You know how they say it takes a village to raise a child?  Well, I think it takes a village to raise an adult also and I'm really really thankful for my village!  I've got a whole team to help me up when I'm knocked down. 

So support team and 24 hours later - today was fan-freakin-tastic!  I started with an easy jog and some belly-dancing.  Channeled my inner Shakira on whom I have a major girl crush.  (Should I say that in public?)  Then I made this awesome smoothie which could take the funk out of anyone:

That's an orange, 2 passiflora, a banana, tahina and flax.  Awesomeness.

Then I gave a store tour to some wonderful happy people at the local Health Food Super Store (Eden Teva to the locals).  I had leftover Mexican lasgana with some oven-roasted cherry tomatoes for lunch and then I spent the afternoon with a fun friend and her baby.  Now my son is standing next to me doing this:

It's a proven fact that Depression is not possible in the presence of fine music.

Snack was a Creamy Sesame Vanilla Smoothie - yum!  Water, banana, tahina, dates and vanilla.

Dinner will be a gigantic spinach salad with the works - toasted pecans, sun-dried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, raisins and the delicious Ginger Dressing from Jae Steele's Get It Ripe.

I hope things are good in your corner of the world wherever that may be!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 50: I'm Half-Way Through!

On New Year's Eve we went out to dinner.  We made reservations at a dairy restaurant where I know they have one vegan option, an Indian dish.  (Kosher restaurants are either meat or dairy.  Dairy restaurants then serve vegetarian dairy foods and fish.)  This place is a wonderful, intimate, romantic spot with delicious food.  How sad we were to arrive and learn they were offering only a special New Year's Eve menu with two options:  One was fish and the other was a super duper dairy dish with cream and about 4 different types of cheeses!  So that wasn't going to work, obviously.  We left and went to stand in line at the Japanese restaurant accross the street, where I did get my vegan dinner (stir-fried noodles with tofu and veggies) but it was not intimate or romantic or special in the least bit.  :-(

This was my first challenge really as a vegan.  I don't eat out much truthfully.  I think it's hard to watch your weight and your health when eating restaurant food, so I just don't go out.  (except falafel and hummus!)  My husband was a real sport about what happened but I can see that being a vegan and eating out could present some real challenges. 

So.... aside from that little hiccup, how have the past 50 days been for me?  What are my Half-Way results?

1.  I feel fabulous.  I feel so great because I am eating in line with my beliefs.  It really bothered me before that eating eggs and dairy was so out-of-line with my beliefs as a vegetarian.  I never realized how MUCH it bothered me.  Now I feel really at peace with my food choices, with animals and with feeling like I have a small footprint on the Earth's resources. 

2.  I also really like knowing that my food is as healthy as healthy can be - no cholesterol and low in fat, high in nutrients and fiber.  This is everything any doctor will tell you to aim for in your diet for the best health, disease prevention and longevity.

3.  I am loving the new dishes I am making and the new ways of using old favorites like tofu and tempeh.  I am really enjoying the food and no longer have cravings for cheese.

4.  I have lost 2 kgs (4.4 lbs) without changing anything else or watching my quantities, counting or measuring anything.  Did you get that?!  Effortless Weight Loss.  Sign me up, baby!

5.  My skin's a bit better but I'm using new products and working with a great cosmetician, so it would be hard to pin it only on the food changes.

6.  Now, this last one is hard to explain and the one I have been hinting at.  WHO I am and HOW I am in the world are changing.  I think that's all I'm going to say about this for the moment, but when I find the right words to explain it, I promise that I will.

I made two really good vegan dishes for Shabbat.  I didn't get to take a picture of the first one, Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup, because I don't use the camera on Shabbat and the entire pot of soup was literally LICKED CLEAN.  There was not a drop left.  It's that good. 

I got this recipe from Inbal of the MultipleQuestionsBookClub:

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup
8 bell peppers, red, orange and yellow
2 tsp olive or coconut oil
2 onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 tsp Hawaij for Soup* (this is a Yemenite spice we buy here in the spice markets, directions on how to make it will be below)
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups water
1 cup non-dairy milk of choice (I used oat milk)

Roast the peppers under the broiler until charred on all sides.  Place them in a paper bag and seal until cool.  In the meantime, saute onions and carrots in oil until soft.  When the peppers are cool, peel off the skins (which should come off easily now after having steamed in the paper bag) and add them to the onion pan.  Add the seasonings.  Add the water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes over medium-low heat.  Puree the soup until smooth.  Just before serving, stir in the non-dairy milk and slowly bring up to warm again.  What a beautiful color and taste this soup has!

Vegan Mexican Lasagna
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups cooked aduki beans
1 small can crushed tomatoes
1 T chili powder
1/2 package tofu
juice of 1/2 lemon
9 large whole wheat tortillas
1 jar medium hot salsa
1/4 cup oats, ground in the food processor until texture of breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 160 C.  Saute garlic for about 30 seconds.  Add beans, tomatoes and chili powder and cook for about 5 minutes until all combined.  Place tofu, salsa, lemon juice and about 1 cup of the bean mixture in the food processor and process until smooth.  Grease a large rectangular pan.  Place a thin layer of tofu mixture on bottom of pan (this will use up about 1/2 the tofu mixture).  Layer 3 tortillas on top of tofu layer.  Then spread a layer of half the bean mixture.  Top with another 3 totillas.  Top with second half of bean mixture.  Top with last 3 tortillas.  Top that with remaining tofu mixture and then sprinkle the top with the ground oats.  Bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Yum!

*Hawaij for Soup
1 T ground black pepper
1 T cumin
1/2 T ground cardamom
1/2 T ground fennel
3/4 T tumeric
1/2 T ground coriander
dash ground cloves
Mix all and store in a clean jar.  Delish, and also good for indigestion and inflammatory conditions.