Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tempeh and Gardein and Daikon! Oh My!

I usually post my Project 52 updates on my other blog.  (Well, honestly, I usually don't post my project 52 updates, but whatevs.)  However, I met a goal from my list that seemed more suited to this blog, so I'm sharing about it here.

22.  Visit Whole Foods and buy some vegan meat alternatives.

My mom visited recently, and she is exploring a mostly vegan, mostly organic, mostly raw food diet.  (I know, right?)  She asked me if my local Wal-mart Supercenter has much organic food, and (after I laughed) I told her it has some, but not a lot.

Then I remembered that I'd put this goal on my list, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to make the trip.  I knew she would enjoy this outing much more than R would, and it would allow us to get more things that would fit into her diet.

And Whole Foods is awesome you guys.  It's expensive.  But they give out a lot of free samples, so maybe it evens out.  It just made me happy to be in there.  Whole different sort of people than my local Supercenter I'm planning to go more often, whenever I'm in that area.

So, one of my main objectives on this trip was to purchase a variety of Gardein products, because I've heard Ellen DeGeneres talk so much about them, and they are not available within a 60 mile radius of my home.  I had more trouble finding them than I thought.  So, just FYI, if you're looking, there are a lot in the frozen section, but there were some items in other sections too.  I sort of thought there would be like a "Gardein Area" but there was not.

Anyway, the only item I/we have tried so far from that lot is the Boneless Buffalo Wingish Thingies (not the official name).  And honestly, I wasn't much impressed.  They looked like chicken.  I'll give them that.  But taste like chicken?  Not so much.  They didn't taste bad.  Just not like chicken.

R did eat them though.  But there isn't much he won't eat.  Brussels sprouts.  He won't eat them.

So, anyway, we have a couple more products to try, including some tempeh that is supposed to mimic ground beef and some chickenish kind.  But so far, I'm more leaning into the vegan diet by eating actual real non-meat foods.  Like beans, nuts, grains, veggies, etc...  I'd rather eat a real bean than a fake wing.

That said, we did try one of the recipes from The Kind Diet while Mom was here.  Mostly.  It was for a vegan stir-fry, so it was sort of a "make it up as we go" thing more so than strict recipe following.  But, at Ms. Silverstone's suggestion, we used organic brown rice and some organic daikon and leeks we had picked up at Whole Foods.  And it was good!

Leeks aren't that exotic, but I'd never cooked with them.  They are a lot like giant green onions I think.  The daikon I'd never heard of before reading the book.  It's a white root, and it tastes kind of like a mild radish.  Only bigger.  And apparently you are too cook them, rather than eat them in your salad.

So there ya go.  My trip to Whole Foods, and my first adventures in vegan cooking.  Daikon and leeks are a go.  Fake meat substitutes, so far, not getting my vote.

(Oh, and you might notice my ticker has gone down a couple more pounds!  I don't honestly know what to attribute this to exactly.  Swimming a lot?  Eating less meat?  Either way, I'll take it!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Diets Can Make You CRAZY!

Of course, I am not speaking from experience - as you can see from my ticker (which is moving in the WRONG direction) - I am CLEARLY NOT on a "diet".

However, recently, I have decided to torture my dog - oh, I mean - improve the health of my dogs by adjusting their food servings based on the weight they SHOULD be. It's not shocking that we quickly found we were overfeeding. Isn't this a big part of many of our weight problems? It's not WHAT we eat - but that we've been eating 2.5 servings per meal.

So, we began adjusting their food. For one of our poochies - this meant only getting 1/2 CUP of food for the whole day. I swore they were going to starve. And they agreed. They would quickly devour their food and then look at you like you were insane - they even developed some mind games to try to trick different family members to believe that they had not yet been fed.

The good news? No one starved to death. Their energy increased. Our oldest dog even has the energy to toss her food around and pretend like it is alive. They've played more and they've actually lost weight. Well, ONE of them lost weight.

I discovered just the other day - that the OTHER dog - who shall remain unnamed - may have been caught sneaking food out of the dog container. I couldn't figure out why she looked heavier, but clearly - she's been snacking! (let this be a reminder that good meal servings can be sabotaged by snacking)

So while most of the results were good - I did notice that the dogs were flirting with insanity. When it is food time - it is FOOD TIME! There is no joking around. There is no distraction that can take their mind off of it....they will rip your hand off if you offer them a grape, a shred of lettuce, or heaven forbid - a dog treat! Food is very serious business to a dieting dog and they may paw your leg until you bleed if you don't take the hint.

Still hoping to find the "diet" that doesn't inspire insanity....(for me and the dogs).

(Dogs pictured are not mine - when mine are crazy there is no time to grab a camera!)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

You may or may not know that Clueless is one of my all time favorite movies.  You also may or may not know that my mom shares this love.  And that we both admire Alicia Silverstone.

I knew that Mom was going to a book signing to hear Alicia speak, but I had no idea this was coming to me in the mail:
"As if!"

I teared up a little when I opened it.

Anyway, I haven't finished the book yet, but I did finish the "meat" of it (ha ha!  That was a little vegan humor).  So I feel like I have enough information to share my review of the book.  I haven't started reading (let alone cooking) any of the recipes yet.  That will be a post for a future week.

Let me start by saying I am not vegan.  I'm not even vegetarian exactly.  I've said for years that I could pretty easily give up meat though.  I just don't eat much of it when left to my own devices.  But I do love cheese.  Mmmmm....cheeeeeessseee...

And I do love animals.  So, the meat-eating thing is something that bothers me if I think too much about it.  I generally prefer my meat to be as far from looking like actual meat as possible.  I'd much rather have pepperoni say, than a pork chop.  I'd eat a hot dog over a steak any day.  I don't like cooking meat, and when I do eat meat I'm really particular about picking out any "weird things" that might be in it.  Like say gristle and fat and stuff.  Anything that would remind me that this thing I'm eating was alive once.

So, I went into reading this book with already having the attitude that meat eating is something I'm not terribly keen on.  Though I was clinging to my cheese for dear life.

I do share Alicia's views on kindness to animals, saving the planet, being green, and so on also.  I have heard that giving up meat is one of the best things we can do for the planet, because of the energy and resources used in meat production, and because of the waste it produces.  But I didn't know the full details before reading this book.

She also has some thought provoking things to say about dairy.  I guess my theory has always been, no animal had to die for me to eat this cheese.  Cheese is okay.

She says it's not.  In fact, she says the dairy and egg industries are more cruel to animals than the meat industry.  I'll spare you the details.  Mostly because I'm not quite ready to fully face it myself.

She also says that there is a reason many people say, "I could give up meat easily, but I can't give up cheese."  (How did she know?)  There is a chemical is cheese, and all dairy products, called casein.  Casein breaks down in our bodies into a morphine like substance.  So it makes us feel really good.  Like a drug.  Cheese is addictive basically.

Who knew?

I'm still not quite ready to give it up.  But I'm leaning toward eating less for now.

While I embrace most of the concepts discussed in the book, it left me with this feeling like I really don't know what I should eat now.  Kind of like the movie Food Inc.  Did you guys see that movie?  It started out talking about how bad the meat and dairy industries are.  Then it goes on to explain about genetically modified corn and soybeans.  And it left me thinking, "What on earth CAN I eat?!"

This book lists these "top five vegetables"
kabocha squash
leafy greens

Okay, at least I know what a leek IS.  Though I am not sure I've ever eaten one.  I know for darn sure I've never purchased and cooked one.  I have no clue what kabocha squash, daikon, and burdock are.  (Neither does spell check.)  Let alone where to purchase them in my rural Midwestern town.

And I thought I was cool with the "leafy greens."  Until I realized she doesn't mean lettuce.  She even specifically says spinach isn't great for us.  I mean, if spinach isn't healthy, what else is there?!  (FYI, it's because it contains oxalic acid, which interferes with calcium absorption.)

She goes on later to say potatoes aren't great either.  Which isn't as big a shock to me.  But seriously, if I'm giving up meat and cheese, can I at least still eat potatoes?  Apparently I'm supposed to be eating a lot of "sea vegetables" instead.  Which, again, aren't abundant in Missouri.

In Ms. Silverstone's defense, she does spell out three levels of embracing The Kind Diet:  flirting, going vegan, and becoming a super hero.  So I guess I'm deep in the flirting stage.

I'll keep you all posted on any recipes I try from the book, and my continued thoughts on being "kind."  Because I do believe that "anything you can do to draw attention to your mouth is good."
The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet