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?!