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Adventures in Veganism

February 16th, 2011 by Brooke

You know when you go on a trip and you spend hours upon hours doing research and planning and fantasizing about what you’ll do and where you’ll go and where you’ll eat? Going gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, booze-free, coffee-free on the Crazy Sexy Diet is kind of like that. Honest. Restricted veganism is far less drudgery than I ever imagined. It’s a lot of work, but it’s adventurous work.

Everything you thought you knew about food is new again when you are choosing not to eat meat, dairy or gluten. In the eight days we’ve been on this vegan exploration we’ve unearthed food blogs we didn’t know existed, read about restaurants we’ve never tried, discovered ingredients we’ve never had occasion to use, begun shopping in a completely different grocery store and found ourselves hunting for items (like tofu and tempeh and vegenaise) in aisles we didn’t know existed. We’ve started reading labels all over again and found egg in most of our gluten-free goodies. Either way,  it’s exciting and, if you’re looking to spice up your marriage, try a [restricted] diet — the thrill of conquering each day – together – has worked wonders on our “new parent” marriage communication lull! We’ve even added exercise to the mix – downloading a bunch of  workout apps and running a great Valentine’s 5K. There are supplements and a juicer to talk about, too, but not in this post. The start-up cost will give you a heart attack and I’d rather you focused on the food.

Everyone is asking, so here’s a list of the recipes we’ve tried. It goes without saying that you would add a HUGE green salad or other heaping, preferably raw, serving of vegetables to every meal. I would humbly like to acknowledge two of my new favorite blogs: Fresh365 and SoGood&Tasty.

  • Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili - We used quinoa for the grain. For Bon Appetit, this wasn’t as good as we’d hoped. I added apple cider vinegar and cinnamon to my lunch servings and it upped the wow significantly.
  • Sunshine veggie burgers with baked sweet potato fries – Sunshine veggie patties are out of this world.
  • “Peanut noodles” – Blanched zucchini, broccoli, and carrot over buckwheat soba noodles which we took right from the book. This sauce on the So Good and Tasty blog is almost the exact same thing. I used the leftover on brown rice cakes the next day – delish!
  • Rice pasta with homemade raw spinach basil pesto (We made this up and used nutritional yeast in place of parmesan.)
  • Green Miso Soup with tofu over buckwheat soba noodles – Another great dish from the So Good and Tasty blog. The soup was slightly bland but comforting and good. The Green Sauce is so delicious and addictive. I mixed it with some noodles on its own the next day and was blissfully happy.
  • Spaghetti squash with garlic paste, olive oil and cherry tomatoes – We made this up, too, and it was great.
  • Chickpea fritters (falafel) — We’ve eaten these twice already (using Bob’s gluten-free all-purpose flour and corn starch in place of the wheat flour) and they are so unbelievably good, it’s hard to believe there is no egg in these spongy, tasty, rich fritters. We serve them over greens with this amazing curry dressing that is definitely going to become a mainstay in our house.
  • Smoky Black Bean Tacos. We had these for our romantic Valentine’s Day dinner and used a half Tofutti, half Vegenaise mixture with adobo liquid mixed in to spoof a pretty spot-on smoky sour cream sauce. Our sprouted corn tortillas were also the best corn tortillas I’ve ever had.

We even went out for sushi once (miso, edamame, tofu and veggie rolls with gluten-free soy sauce we brought in my purse).  Some unexpected highlights (besides a healthier marriage) have emerged, too. When you eat a plant-based diet your cooking time goes down significantly — just chop and combine — meaning less time on your feet and in the kitchen. And with our salads, smoothies and juicing — there is was not a single vegetable morsel that went unused in our first seven days. That’s amazing, we throw out more food on a regular basis than I would like to admit!

So, eight days into this vegan cleanse, we’re feeling pretty amazing. Still recovering from persistent winter coughs but overall we both feel a clarity and a vigor that is usually tucked far, far away in February.

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