First, before I talk about my latest foray into gluten free veganism, I want to reassure you that the bear in the previous post is NOT a grizzly. It's a black bear, which also, confusingly, can be brown. We don't have grizzlies around here, which is good, because the mountain lions are scary enough. Anyway, the black bear is a herbivore, unless he/she gets in your trash, and poses little threat to humans.
Just wanted to put your mind at ease.
But that was a big bear.
So, back to veganism.
Remember back in April when I did my little gluten free/vegan experiment? No? You're not monitoring my every dietary step? How shocking.
Anyway, for many years now I've been curious about different types of food and how they work for/against our bodies. We've made a lot of changes to our diet, some of which I've written about on CaringBridge or here. Basically, we are mostly organic, especially with the Dirty Dozen foods that contain the most pesticides (you can print off a card to take with you to the grocery store here: http://www.foodnews.org/). Of course, our driving motivation to be organic was Finn's leukemia, but I also have read so much about how pesticides are present in kids' urine (eeek, I just said URINE in a blog post), but after just a few days of organic eating, the pesticides disappear. That speaks to me.
There are lots of other things I've wondered about and gluten was one of them. After my two week gluten free/vegan experiment in April, I never went back to eating gluten. I noticed that big a difference. And now when I eat it, I notice a big difference--in a gastrointentinal way. I'll spare you the details.
After the experiment, I also never really went back to cheese (that was a hard one) and most other dairy. It was just astonishing how much better I felt. I did add back in meat and eggs.
But the results of that first challenge were undeniable--I felt better and I lost weight. So on July 5th, I started another gluten free/vegan challenge through a fitness forum I go to each day.
This time I'm going gluten free/vegan for the month of July (I cook vegan stuff that Eamonn and the boys eat, but I also make them a cooked protein to go with their meals). I'm finding it much easier this time. I was already gluten free, so that was no big deal. I just dropped out the meat again and am off and running.
The people who saw on Facebook that I was doing this challenge wondered what the heck I was eating. I had to get some vegan books out of the library, and even modify those a little because a lot of those recipes contained wheat/gluten. It takes more planning, but again, I'm always curious to try new stuff and I do like the results.
For the curious, I've been eating:
Breakfasts: A meal replacement shake called Shakeology (by far the best protein/meal replacement shake EVER--I get the DTs when I skip a day, I think because it contains a plant from the Amazon Rainforest called camu camu. It gives you a natural buzz.); almond milk and granola, fruit, oatmeal, gluten free waffles or pancakes.
Lunches: I make a seed bread in my dehydrator and I load it with all sorts of veggies, sprouts, etc. I also eat Udi's gluten free bread. The kids like it and don't even know it's gluten free. I did discover Udi's has egg whites in it, so I have to steer clear of it for the challenge, but it works well for us on a daily basis otherwise. I love soup, so I eat a lot of soup. Beans, lentils, salads.
Dinners: Again, lots of beans, grains (note--when I first tried to type "grains" I typed "brains," which wouldn't be very vegan), and veggies. The cookbooks I got from the library really helped. I made a delish quinoa tabbouleh the other night that I nearly made myself sick on because I pigged out on it. I'll put the recipe at the bottom. Tonight I'm experimenting and making homemade pizza on a gluten free premade crust. I'll make my own sauce and I'm going to top it with spinach and other veggies, and almond cheese. Very curious about the almond cheese! I eat quinoa pasta with marinara sauces.
Basically, you can find just about anything in vegan form, if you look. I am staying away from tofu on this challenge. Although I like it, I read recently that people with a history of thyroid issues should not tofu. Let's see, what else? Salads with edamame--love that stuff. Pesto. Fruit salads with an orange juice and coconut milk dressing. Tacos--made with white beans and greens and served on corn tortillas. My favorite tortilla chips are inbounds on this challege--happy day--as is popcorn. I did do a challenge where I wasn't allowed to eat popcorn. That didn't go well.
I'll keep you updated. So far I'm down 1.2 pounds this week. It's not as hard as I thought it would be. It's just a different way of doing things! Do I intend to remove meat from my diet forever? I don't think so, but I do find I miss it even less this time. I'm realizing though that when I cook and eat in this way, I need to make sure I prepare a main dish that is vegan so that I'm not just eating a series of side dishes--it's more mentally satisfying that way.
Make this and see what you think:
1 cup (175 g) quinoa
2 1/2 cups (590 ml) water or stock (I used vegetable stock)
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 cucumber, seeded and finely diced (peeling optional)
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup (30 g) finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup (25 g) finely chopped fresh mint
1/3 (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
1 tsp. (6 g) salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Rinse quinoa using small strainer to remove a natural substance called saponin which protects the plant from birds and tends to have a bitter taste. It is easily rinsed off before cooking. (Some brands are pre-rinsed)
In a medium-size pot, add quinoa to water (or stock) and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 10 – 15 minutes. When all water is absorbed, quinoa is done. Simmer for a few more minutes, if necessary. If excess water remains, turn off heat and let water soak into the grain. If you still have excess water after that, drain off. Let cool.
In large mixing bowl, combine scallions, cucumber, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, mint, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. Once quinoa cools, add to the bowl, mixing well and tweaking salt, lemon juice, and oil to get right consistency and desired taste.
Yield: 4 – 6 servings
Serving suggestions and variations:
Add any or all of these vegetables: finely chopped celery, green or red bell peppers, or chopped olives. Also try adding 1 cup (240 g) cooked chickpeas or a pinch of cinnamon. Serve as a salad or side dish with pita bread or crackers.
Note: I added chickpeas and kalamata olives.
Nutrition per serving:
212 calories; 11 g fat; 5 g protein; 26 g carbohydrate; 3 g dietary fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 372 mg sodium.
A note about quinoa:
Nutritionally, quinoa is considered a super grain. A complete protein, it contains 11 grams of protein per 1/2 cup (95 g), offers more iron than other grains, and contains high levels of potassium and riboflavin, as well as B6, niacin, and thiamin.