Friday, March 9, 2012

RECIPE TIME!! Quinoa Mix!

Since Ashley so kindly brought up quinoa the other day, I thought I'd share my recipe. I actually used a recipe for black bean and corn salad and just changed it up! I like how easy it is to swap things in vegan recipes!

2 cans Black beans, rinsed
1 Red pepper, diced
1 Green Pepper, diced
4 Cloves of garlic (or however much/little you want)
1 small red onion, chopped finely
1 cup cooked Quinoa
Pint of Cherry Tomatos

1 Lemons juice
Dash of Cumin
Dash of Cayenne (If you can handle spicy)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Bunch of cliantro (or basil)

Mix all of the above in a bowl and VOILA! See how easy this vegan thing is? Let us know if you try it!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Holy Guacamole! I'm Back!

Well well well Vodka lovers (and veganites) I have returned. I was away for a few days and severely neglected this but thankfully I had the best co-blogger to step up and take over! Gracias Ash!

So I'd like to start off by recapping my month of beginner veganism. First, official weigh in: -10lbs. IN A MONTH?! THAT'S EPIC (and probably frowned upon by most doctors but eh, f 'em.) I also got an iPhone (yay finally a part of 2012!) which I've discovered has access to amazing apps. I downloaded the Whole Foods Receipe app. You just select vegan as the specialty and whatever you want as a the meal; Dessert, main dish, appetizer etc. You can also give the app 3 ingredients that you have on hand and it will give you recipes to work off of with those ingredients! Amaze-balls. (Bonus-it's available on droids or whatever Ash has because she downloaded it too!)

As I continue my quest to convert everyone, my friend Erin finally watched "Forks Over Knives" and began her barrage of complaints over supposed scientifically inaccurate items. While I disagree with her on some points(she's not a doctor but she'll take a look), I did agree with her on one thing: exercise. The documentary that started it all left out an important component for a healthy lifestyle. I try to get to the gym 4-5 times week. Spin class, body pump (weight lifting) and running are all part of my workout routines. I 100% support exercise as a necessary piece of the puzzle. So if you're just changing what you're eating, you might be missing out on a huge boost to your health! Get out, get active, get healthy!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Survived the Grocery Store Part 2

Team Vegan just keeps growing.  The newest to accept the challenge is my roommate Alicia.  She's joining me in my March challenge and frankly, I couldn't be happier.  It's always easier when you have a partner in health, even more so if you live together.  Alicia and I ventured to Whole Foods over the weekend.  (Unfortunately, there isn't a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's in close proximity to our house - what the frick, Boston?  But it's a doable little weekend drive).  Anywho, I fell in love.  I enjoy grocery shopping as it is.  I feel like people either love it or hate it and I'm definitely the former.  But Whole Foods was like a whole new level of romance.  I feel better just being there, like we're all there for the same reason - we care about what we put in our bodies.  I swear the veggies were brighter, the fruit was fresher, the options were endless and I could actually pronounce everything on the ingredients label - score.  And yes, it may be a little more expensive.  But Alicia and I filled our cart and split the total and we each paid $70 - what we'd each typically spend on ourselves at Stop & Shop - score.

Bonus score - They have handles on their paper bags.  If other stores would do that, it might cut down on the ridiculous amount of plastic people who don't care enough to get reusable bags use.  Also, I hate those little tear off plastic bags in the produce section.  There's gotta be a friendlier alternative. [End of rant].

Happy shopping!


Fruit Salad Makes Me Happy

I've always loved fruit salad.  I probably don't need to go on.  You all know it's sweet, it's refreshing, it's healthy, it's hydrating, it's easy and it's fun because you can make your own combo.  Alicia and I threw together watermelon, canteloupe, strawberries, pineapple and grapes and the result is an enjoyable mid-morning snack or a guilt-free late night sweet tooth satisfier.  So go on, get a little fruity.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Recipe Time! Introducing, Quinoa.

My roommate Allison is so vegan and she doesn't even know it.  She came home from work with a bag of quinoa one of her co-workers had given her.  She asked me if I'd ever tried it to which I said no, but I've heard of it and seen it in a lot of recipes.  She decided to cook some up.  She boiled the quinoa, prounouced: KEEN-wah (yeah, I've been pronouncing completely wrong) and rinsed it.  Then threw in some corn, black beans, and salsa... and voila!  It was that quick and easy.  It was also delicious and satisfying.  A cup of quinoa was plenty for the both of us to share.  Needless to say, I'll be stocking up on some quinoa and doing some experimental mixing of my own.  Thanks, Al!


I Survived the Grocery Store

March 1st fell on a Thursday.  So I went shopping a couple days prior with the intention of getting some basics to make it through my first weekend.  With Kerry's guidance, I made it through the grocery store in one piece.  I figured I'd start with the things I like that I regularly buy that I know are vegan friendly: fruit, veggies, salad, brown/wild rice, nuts, veggie burgers, hummus, oatmeal, cereal, almond or soy milk.  This already gave me some meals and snacks which was reassuring.  It hurt my soul to walk by the entire dairy section (my roommate Allison is my witness, I think I shed a tear).  I've always followed this rule: If I don't buy it, I won't eat it.  It's much easier for me to walk by something in the store then to avoid it in my house.  I figured these staples would get me started and I would be back with a list for recipes once I planned my meals for the week and got into a routine I felt worked for me.  Aside from the health benefits, this new lifestyle will help me with my organization, time management, and cooking abilities.  I am severly lacking in all of these areas.
I can almost hear my body thanking me already.

How it All Started: The Ashley Version

So when I decided to try the vegan life, I thought to myself. I can do this. 
I'm a girl so I've tried diets (Weight Watchers, South Beach.  South Beach worked for me, WW didn't.  But it's vise versa for most people I know).  Many believe that a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is dangerously unhealthy - unrealistic, unneccessary and lacking in nutrients.  But... ya know.  There's a lot of unhealthy food out there.  And to each his own.  I think it's true that you're most likely to be successful by just being conscious of what you put in your mouth and exercising regularly.  But who am I?
I think of myself as always having been a relatively healthy eater. I mean I'm not the best but I'm not the worst.  One of my roommates my junior year of college was very much into health and fitness and not unlike Kerry's choices, her lifestyle rubbed off on me.  I started being more aware of what exactly I was eating, eating more of a variety of foods, and switching to the healthier versions of the foods I liked.  And I've continued since.  I even took a couple health science courses as electives in college.  (In addition to psychology and photography... Why did I major in Comm again?)
I rarely eat red meat - maybe a steak and a burg or two a year.  Seafood is something I just discovered I like a couple years ago and I enjoy getting it on occasion when I'm out on the town - sushi dates have become the highlight of an otherwise dull work week ever since my roomies introduced me to the stuff a few months back.  Chicken I eat most often.  Chicken will be missed.  But I'll live.  I can do this.  Thankfully, there's a lot of vegan alternatives to many (though not all) of the foods we love.  How they compare?  I can't tell ya yet.  But I'll keep you posted.  Luckily, I love trying new things.  New food?  Bring it on. (except tofu still creeps me out, Kerry's gonna have to hide it in a meal and tell me about it later.) 
I happen to have three cousins who are vegetarian so at the holidays they always have their own dishes.  And yes, I always try theirs too.  And yes, they're always phenom.
So the vegetarian part of vegan I can adjust to.  It's the vegan part that scares me a little.  I love dairy. Yogurt, milk,  cheese - um hello is cheese not on everything?  And incredible edible (unless you're vegan) eggs.  And and my personal weakness... dessert.  There are vegan recipes for these (don't think I didn't check).  But still.  Ouch.  That hurts my sweet tooth. 
But I can do this.  I'm up for the challenge.  I keep telling myself it's only 31 days.  But in those 31 days, I may just feel better, drop a couple el be's, and most definitely learn something.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Freakin Leap Year...

I began this month with one goal: maintain a vegan diet. I did pretty damn good if I do say so myself! I've learned so much this past month but the best lesson I can take away from my experiment is that veganism isn't crazy. I'm not a hippie, I still showered, I brush my teeth and I live my life. Vegans get a bad rep for being "strange." Well I have news for you: I'm already weird so being vegan wasn't too extreme for me. I feel so much better, I'm not tired in the afternoons anymore. Normally I'd be scarfing down something with caffeine or sugar to keep me awake but I didn't need it this month. I wake up earlier for no good reason other then I'm not tired! I lost weight (final weigh in hasn't been conducted yet) and I've been kicking ass at the gym. Now I know I started out using February as an experiment month but I really feel like I can incorporate this as a full on lifestyle. Yes it's significantly more expensive but isn't it worth paying more for food when you'll pay less for health care in the future? When I won't have high blood pressure or clogged arteries or if I'm lucky, cancer? I think so. I'm worth it now. I hope my friends can take into consideration changing their lives for just 1 month. One month to see if a lifestyle change can really be beneficial to you. I promise you won't be disappointed.


Leaping into March (see what I did there?)

It's February 29th.  Which means two very different things for Kerry and for myself.  For Kerry, this marks the end of her month long vegan challenge.  So let's give it up for Kerry and all she has accomplished in 28 - I mean 29 - days!  Woohoo.  For the record, I knew she could do it.  I'm so proud.  Okay, now back to me.  As far as I'm concerned, today marks my final day before I begin MY month long vegan challenge!  (Thank you leap year for this extra day of sanity.)

So in preparation, I've spent the week cleaning out my cupboards (and satisfying a few final cravings at the same time) - mmm turkey sandwiches and omelettes - and saying so long to my supply of eggs, cheese, yogurt, tuna fish, cold cuts, soup, etc. etc. etc.  Whatever's left goes to the roomies - Merry Christmas!

I like change so I'm eager to see what the next month brings.  I'm nervous but that just lets me know this is important to me.  And I'm stubborn as all hell, so if I say I'm going to do something, I do it.  So bring it, March.  I'm ready.


Monday, February 27, 2012

RECIPE TIME!!!! Chickpea Salad!

Happy Monday! For those of you who know me, I'm not a morning person let alone a Monday person. I am trying to get better at human interaction in the morning (part of my bucket list for the year). So in the spirit of being nicer, I wanted to post my favorite vegan recipe thus far. I've made this salad 4 times now and each time I get a little more creative. Take my advice: use the recipe as a base and just go from there!

3 cans cooked chickpeas (rinsed!)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red onion, minced
2 carrots, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup of Basil, chopped
1 Pint of cherry tomatoes (either left whole or halved)

Mix the above ingredients together.

In separate bowl, make the dressing:
1/2 - 3/4 c Balsamic vinegar
3 TBS olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons

Pour dressing over Chickpea mix and toss to coat. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours or over night.
Serve chilled (or room temp, whatever the hell you want)

Tadaaa. I've had great reviews from friends on this salad. One kept saying she loved how fresh it tasted (That's because it was fresh duh). So run, frolick, cook. Tell me if you try this!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Beginners Guide to Vegan Food Shopping

As Ashleys start date for veganism approaches, she made me think of a great topic to write about: how to approach food shopping. When people think of vegans, they immediately think of the produce section and how vegans have to practically live there in order to survive. That's not true as I've found out the past few weeks. Yes, I spend the majority of my budget on fruits and vegetables BUT there's so much more to the vegan diet.
I did a good amount of research prior to starting my challenge. I still stressed out like whoa on day 1. The night before, I went to Whole Foods. I agonized over the produce section, was overwhelmed by the choices and spent waaaaaay too much money. But my research had me well prepared and my purchases were smart enough to create meals that were perfectly vegan and actually appetizing. SO! I have compiled a basic list of items to purchase when deciding to go vegan. Obviously not everyone will want to buy each and every thing listed but it will give you a better idea when in the market.

Produce section:
*Here is the backbone of your diet. You will want to focus primarily in this part but obviously avoid anything that you don't like or have an allergy to.*

Starting with the vegetables:
  • Peppers-green, red, yellow
  • Onions-red, vidalia, yellow
  • Carrots-baby carrots are my favorite for snacking
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes-cherry and regular
  • Radishes
Onto fruit, try to buy local as often as you can. It's healthier and helps local farmers:
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit (ick, i don't eat that)
  • Plums
  • Peaches
  • Pears
Enough with the obvious choices. Make your own decisions here people. Salads are an easy way to kick off a vegan diet. Focus on what you know and go from there!


Some people are surprised to know they can have pasta as a vegan. You just need to become accustomed to reading labels. Some pastas can contain eggs or other dairy items. LEARN TO READ LABELS.

  • Quinoa-great grain, similar to couscous. Excellent source of protein. Found in grocery stores.
  • Whole grain, whole wheat pasta
  • Whole grain brown rice
  • Steel cut oats-found in the cereal aisle, pure form of quick oatmeal. Takes longer to cook but better for you
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Regular russet potatoes

Canned Goods:
While I don't like canned foods because of their amount of salt, I also know it's impossible to avoid them. Make sure to rinse after opening to remove excess salt. Easy to use, good to keep on hand for stews, salads etc. Excellent source of fiber.

  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Corn

Dairy: Obviously vegan means NO DAIRY. No cheese, milk, yogurt etc.
  • BUT! Soymilk is a necessity. I use it for post-workout smoothies.
Frozen foods: Buying frozen is just as good as fresh but more cost effective.
  • Fruit: berries, pineapple, mangos etc. Use for smoothies, oatmeal etc.
  • Vegetables: green beans, edamame (soybeans), corn, peas etc.
***I still maintain that organic and GMO/Pesticide free food is the best way to go but sometimes, the cost is just too high. Do the best that your budget will allow.

This isn't a complete list. It's just a starting point. There's always seeds, nuts, seaweed (don't hate, it's got lots of nutrients), stock, spices and snacks.

Do your research. Read a book. Talk to people. I'm not an expert. I'm just a girl who has taken the time to learn.

Happy shopping!!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

RECIPE TIME!!! Hot and Sour Soup!

Since I've started this experiment/lifestyle change, I've learned that it takes a lot more effort to create meals. I've never been opposed to cooking but I just haven't had a need to expand my repertoire til now. Thank god for the internet or else I would've starved. People have shared some amazing recipes. I figured that until Ashley and I can learn how to configure a blog so that we can have links to a separate recipe page, I'll just make blog posts for them.

This recipe was taken from Ming Tsai. I saw the Dr. Oz show a few weeks ago and it was all about immunity. Ming said that this hot and sour soup was a fantastic immune booster because of the shiitaki mushrooms in it. Not to mention it's incredibly easy to make! I've adjusted the recipe to exclude the chicken stock so that it's truly vegan. I've also made a few minor changes just for my own tastes. That's the beauty of recipes: you can do whatever the hell you want to them!

1 TBS Olive oil
2 Habaneros (or jalapenos for you wimps)
1 TBS minced ginger
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 Bunches of green scallions sliced
1 lb shiitakes, stems removed, sliced
2 1/2 quarts VEGETABLE stock (or however much will fit in your stock pot)
2 TBS soy soy or tamari
Juice of 2 lemons
1 block silken firm tofu, diced into cubes
2 cups shredded carrots

Heat the oil in a stockpot. Add the garlic, ginger, hot peppers and scallions. Saute for a few minutes. Add mushrooms. Saute til softened about 5 minutes.

Add stock and soy sauce, bring to a simmer and reduce slightly, about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice, tofu, and carrots. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Or totally do whatever you want, add the ingredients as you wish, change the cooking times. I changed a lot from the original recipe. I combined mine and Mings version to come up with this one. The first time I made this I ate the entire pot in a few hours. Since then, I've made it a couple of time but it's still freakin awesome. Try it, let me know what you think!


Friday, February 24, 2012

How It All Started (or why I decided to give up all the awesome, tasty, greasy, fatty foods I loved so much)

I got Netflix in January. I was so excited because I finally had an easy way to watch Ren & Stimpy, Rocko's Modern Life and Wings (Did I mention this is a judge free blog?). One Friday night, in all my lame ass glory, I was home studying. I decided to scroll through the other offerings Netflix had. I saw Supersize Me, which I have had a fascination with since Morgan Spurlock debuted it. I mean really, we all know McDonalds is bad for you but this guy? He did what every 7 year old (and college kid) desperately wants to do! So I watched it again and just as before, I was engrossed in this world of food reality.
Once finished, Netflix took it upon itself to "suggest" other documentaries for me. Well look out! I was given a whole slew of food related docs. The first one to catch my eye was called "Fat, Sick and Dying." Now I'm not really the morbid type but this sounded awesome. The description said it was a look at a man who went on a juice fast for months at a time and it changed his life. By the end of it, I was googling juicers. It was incredible to learn what your body does when given only fruit and vegetables. The fact that it was all in liquid form is what helped this guys body to absorb the nutrients and vitamins. Whoa.
So as my Friday night continued to be awesome, the next doc Netflix suggested to me was called "Forks Over Knives." This was the game changer everyone. If you have Netflix, stop reading this blog and go watch it! NOW! The long and short of this one was that these 2 doctors were promoting a whole food, plant-based diet. They ran studies about cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Each of these studies shows REVERSING effects caused by a change in the subjects diet. A woman who had cancer went vegan. Then she was able to run a marathon and was cancer free. A guy who had a couple of heart attacks, and fully blocked arteries went vegan and hasn't had any problems since. The astounding scientific evidence shown in this film really sealed the deal for me. Did you know we don't need cows milk? Or how about the amount of protein in leafy greens? By the end I was hooked.
I decided I would do more research about going vegan, find good books to read, talk to friends of mine who were vegan, watch more documentaries about it and start this journey a few weeks later on February 1st. So here I am, 3 weeks later and not only have I lost weight but I feel good. I feel more awake in the morning and I don't get tired during the day. I don't regret this trial run but I do hope I can keep it up for the long term.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Twist My Arm...

Greetings, blogosphere.  I'm that Ashley girl Kerry is always talking about.  In her eyes, I'm just the right amount of hippie for her to still love me.  Aww, how sweet.  I feel the same way about her Jersey-ness.  So what she says is true, she's converting me to a life of veganism.  When she told me she was going to try it for the month of February (note: she chose the shortest month of the year... but it's a leap year - so ha!), we were out to lunch.  And sober.  I didn't give her as much crazy eye as the rest of our friends did.  Truth be told, I was interested to see how her journey would go, how she would feel, and let's be honest - what she would eat!  She's been at it for a few weeks now and in that time has taken advantage of my curious nature and convinced me to follow in her footsteps.  So, here I am, enjoying my final week pre-veeg before I cross over in March.  I thought a blog would be a good way for us to share our findings, keep us motivated, and entertain you all.  What I didn't know is that figuring out how to start a blog is friggin hard.  And I say that as a Comm major.  One of the obstacles we faced was a title.  But Kerry and I share a common bond.  And being the eager learner I metioned I am, I have asked Kerry a lotttt of questions.  The first being, "Wait, is vodka vegan?".

And Away We Go....

(To the tune of The Brady Bunch)
Here's a story,
Of a Vegan named Kerry,
Whose friend Ashley started giving it much thought.
She did her homework,
And saw some articles,
Now that's how we became the Vegan bunch!

Ok so I'm Kerry. That other chick is Ashley. Neither of us have ever had a blog. Neither of us has also been a long term vegan. In fact, I've only been in this lifestyle for 3 weeks! Ashley will be officially joining Vegan-land March 1st. This blog will serve us as an outlet, a reference area for those who have no idea what veganism is, a scrapbook to post our triumphs (and fails just because that's going to be hilarious) and just a general place for us to direct our energy when we get bored at our real jobs.

The title of our blog is pretty simple and straight-forward but I'll give you the backstory. When I first decided I would become vegan, it was going to be a test run for the month of February. One of the first questions asked of me by my friends, Ashley included, was "but what are you going to drink? Vodka won't be on your vegan list!" Well well welllll lucky me! I googled that shit (see blog title) and low and behold my favorite vodka is in fact vegan. Winner!

So here you have it. Our first blog posting. Doesn't it just make you want a big slab of tofu?!