vegan week day 5

okay, everyone, i know you all are just on the edge of your seats, waiting to hear how #veganweek wrapped up for phillip and me.  well, to quote barry manilow (and honor his beagle named bagel), i’ll just say that “it looks like we made it.”  somehow, some way, we made it through #veganweek.

did i like all the food we ate during #veganweek?  yes, and most of it i would absolutely make it again.  the hard part about it all is that i know how delicious some of my favorite foods are, and all week i was denying myself those tasty pleasures.  i wouldn’t say those cravings were overwhelming, but it became a mental game at some point.  just one more day, one more hour, one more moment!  that’s truly what it came down to.

so, friday night arrived and we met up with a bunch of friends at a local tavern called hobnob for dinner.  i’d already taken a look at the menu before we showed up, so i knew there would be a few options.  i started off with the allagash white beer and phillip treated himself to terrapin brewery’s peach brew of the summer season, which was appropriately sweet and refreshing for the hot night outside.

hooray beer!

hooray beer!

as we gabbed and caught up with one another, it was quite a test of will whether or not i would cave in or push through one more meal for #veganweek.  i tried not to let my eyes wander to the other tables that had steaming plates full of what looked like delectable pub food piled high.  by some miracle i stuck to my commitment and ordered the veggie burger while phillip tried the piedmont burger.  now, these burgers looked delicious as the wacky waitress placed them in front of us, but the taste was a different story entirely.  after taking just one bite of the falafel patty (which itself wasn’t too bad), every bite from there on out tasted like falafel.  seriously, it was like there was no distinction of flavor among the different ingredients.  i couldn’t even finish it, which i think says something about the dish but also about my waning excitement for #veganweek.  i wish i could say phillip’s experience was better, but unfortunately it was not.  as the first meal containing meat all week, it was very unsatisfying and underwhelming.  we both even had small stomach aches afterwards!  i guess i shouldn’t be too surprised, but it made it clear to me that this five-day challenge was plenty long.

after our disappointing dinner (everyone else very much liked what they had), we all headed back to kyle and kari’s apartment for a rooftop hangout.  they’re moving later this month to a house (ooh, how adult!), so we had to gather one last time at their place.  i mean, how are we not all going to miss this view?

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we grabbed some benches around the fire pit, got that thing going, and busted out the s’mores supplies.  although it may have been ninety-something degrees out, the classic summer treat s’mores sounded like such a good idea.  and boy were they, especially as the #veganweek ending reward!

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our final celebration for #veganweek came this morning when phillip and i had brunch at the original pancake house.  man, let me tell you, i ate half of the hash and pancake specialty in record time that i got done and didn’t even really remember eating it all!  the pancakes were so fluffy and buttery, and that corned beef hash was from heaven, i swear.  i took the last bite of over-easy egg with extra crispy bacon and said to phillip, “that was insanely good.”  it was the perfect end to an exciting and interesting week.

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so, now that we made it through #vegan week, what are our final thoughts?  well, first off, the thing about eating vegan is that you really have to plan it all out.  you can’t just swing by your local mcdonald’s for a ten pack of nugs.  and you can’t just run into starbucks for your favorite latte or frappuccino.  i think that’s one of the hardest parts.  you also really have to be thoughtful about bringing food with you in case you end up in a hungry situation and won’t have quick access to something that fits your diet.

would i say i felt a physical difference?  probably not, in all honesty.  i still consumed a similar amount of food, it’s just that what i was eating was generally better for me than what i usually have.  phillip said he definitely felt more active and alert, which is something i suppose we all would like during our regular day-to-day.

i think more than anything #veganweek opened my eyes up personally to the fact that if i do want to snack between larger meals, i can do so in a healthy way.  for example, i can enjoy a ripe peach rather than a bag of chips (but don’t expect me to put down the spicy nacho doritos any time soon).

would i try #veganweek again?  probably not.  however, i do have a better understanding of that dietary lifestyle and everything that comes with it.  to those of you who have followed along all week, thank you for tuning in!  i hope our journey was entertaining and inspiring, in some way.  🙂

vegan week day 4 – here we find ourselves

folks, after munching down those kick-ass scones last night, i turned to phillip and confessed, “all i am craving right now is a chick-fil-a sandwich.”  he agreed, ” you’re telling me.  this vegan thing isn’t awful, but it is hard when i want a hot dog or some cheese.”  in all honesty, i think the initial excitement has begun to wear off, especially since the finish line is in sight.  my cravings surfaced even higher when i passed a chick-fil-a after going to the dentist this morning.  ah, but to have one bite of one chicken biscuit would be divine!

phillip did admit that he does feel more active and alert, which is how we all would like to feel in the middle of the day.  and i will say i do feel less guilty about what i’ve consumed, mainly because it hasn’t involved a family-sized box of cheez-its or some ice cream at the end of the day.  we’ve come this far, so one more day should be doable!  (any and all encouragement is welcome.  🙂 )

since chicken biscuits weren’t an option, phillip and i both had scones for breakfast.  and yes, they were just as delicious this morning as they were last night.  as for lunch, phillip enjoyed some lasting leftovers and i headed to panera bread for some black bean soup and greek salad.

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now, our final meal to cook during vegan week (which created plenty for tomorrow, don’t you worry) was this asparagus risotto dish from the colorful writers at thug kitchen.  if you have a good sense of humor, please go read the entire recipe.  it is quite entertaining!  i will caution you, again, that they aren’t shy with their language.

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anyway!  i’d rate this recipe on the “easy” level, and the tastes are subtle but quite flavorful.  well, i guess if you like asparagus!  the only problem i had is that i had the wrong rice-liquid ratio.  too much of one or not enough of the other, i’m unsure, but it was a little more broth-y in the end than it probably should been.  oh well!  i’m not going to let that keep me from scarfing down a bowl for dinner.  with a little more finesse on the next time around, i bet it’ll be just perfect.

vegan week day 3 – i dreamt about cheeseburgers

yes, cheeseburgers were dancing around in my dreams, bumping into me on the sidewalk, creeping over my dinner plate, brokenhearted that i’d abandoned them.  such a horror that i woke up drenched in a nervous sweat!  okay, that’s not entirely true.  i didn’t dream about cheeseburgers last night; i actually had visions of tofu slices!  okay, that’s a lie also.  i honestly don’t remember last night’s dreams.  all i remember is i slept very well and awoke refreshed and ready for the day.  perhaps that’s because i decided to forgo my typical 4:30 a.m. workout.  yes, that was definitely a good choice.

anyway!  day three came and went like any typical wednesday did.  i had some cherries for my morning snack and then craisins on a log in the early afternoon.  interesting how some of my vegan selections seem to remind me of my childhood…

for lunch i had reheated veggie taco bowl, and it definitely hit the spot.  also, i think i made all my coworkers jelly (that’s short for jealous, just fyi) because it smelled so good.

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the danger struck, though, when my coworker andrew brought back a whole parcel of cookies for the office.  everyone was commenting, “mm, how tasty!”  “ah, these are great!”  i had to look away as everyone delicately unwrapped them and took delicious bite after delicious bite without me.  i wouldn’t say my will to resist was crumbling, but those treats definitely reminded me how much i am looking forward to saturday when i can indulge in all my favorite eats once again.

as for dinner this evening, we didn’t get too formal.  phillip had his company’s first kickball game of the summer (woohoo!) and i kind of lounged around watching law & order: svu once i got home.  after finally peeling myself off the sofa (i’d already seen that particular episode countless times), i got to baking.  i do enjoy cooking, but i’d say baking is much more of a passion for me.  another friendly recommendation, i whipped up a batch of vegan lemon poppy seed scones from the lovely i love vegan pair of brittany and william.  i’ve actually never made scones, so i wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the recipe seemed straightforward and i was itching for something to satisfy my sweeter baked good tooth.

after letting the scones cool and generously drizzling them in glaze, i could hardly wait until phillip got home so we could try some.  don’t they look delectable?

well, if looks could kill, then how these scones tasted would send you to heaven and back.  i was incredibly happy with the biscuit-like texture, the light fluffiness, and the bright lemon flavor.  as phillip and i sat munching them at the dining room table, i couldn’t help but be impressed by myself (and the recipe).  i mean, these scones are slap-your-mama good.  they’re almost so good that i might eat a second scone right now and then another in the morning for breakfast.  no judging!  😉

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vegan week day 2 – nachos for everyone!

day 2 of vegan week was much like day 1 for phillip and me:  still exciting and interesting!  our breakfast consisted of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (it’s basically the same thing as untoasted toast…right?  plus, it makes you feel like a kid again :)) and then plenty of fresh fruit throughout the day.  our lunches were leftovers of the night before with the hummus (which i’d say is actually better after sitting for a night) and the quinoa (which i loved much more when i took out the olives; just can’t get a taste for those little things quite yet).

as for dinner i wanted to spice things up a bit and make some nachos.  nomsies!  one of my friendly readers renard was quick to suggest i check out the i love vegan blog by canadian writers brittany and william.  their site is just absolutely adorable and chock-full of all sorts of good stuff.  among their entries i found a recipe for a grilled veggie taco bowl, which we easily converted into nachos.  now, i didn’t have the chance to snap a picture of this dish because it was just so dang tasty and, honestly, we were very hungry (phillip had two servings himself!).  i modified the recipe a little bit to my liking by omitting the tomato (just wasn’t feeling it tonight), going for yellow and orange peppers instead of red and green, and also by adding tofu sausage.  i can’t remember the brand (my apologies), but it came packaged like a tube of jimmy dean’s sausage might.  i should have opted for the pre-crumbled tofu sausage, which probably would have been easier to brown up in the skillet, but phillip made do by using a spatula to break that stuff up perfectly.  thanks, honey!

i definitely recommend making sure you get the taco sauce.  this stuff makes a big difference!  i prefer the chi-chi’s brand – i mean, it’s just so much fun to say!  chi-chi’s!  it really brings a good taco flavor to the dish and brings a little liquid into the equation.  without sour cream or melty cheese to douse the other ingredients (which i didn’t miss as sorely as i thought i would), you’ve got to have something like the taco sauce as a good substitute.  the brown rice was nice and chewy and the sausage was seasoned nicely.  i’d gladly make this recipe again, especially with all the grilled veggies that are just mm-mm good.

so, as i sit here consuming a few more tortilla chips before bed, i’d say phillip and i are in good shape for tomorrow.  with plenty of food in the fridge, we’re sitting pretty for day three.  also, tomorrow’s hump day, so there’s that to celebrate, too!

vegan week day 1 – chickpea night!

well, everyone, phillip and i survived day one of #veganweek – woohoo!  it’s good to start the week off on a high note, and i think we are both optimistic for the next four days.

this morning’s breakfast was cereal and fruit, pretty safe bets (i’d guess) for a quick vegan breakfast.  well, maybe any breakfast for that matter.  anyway!  since we’d been out of town this past weekend, the refrigerator was a bit empty, which meant that we were both on our own for lunch today.  phillip’s office had lunch catered in, and he had a caprese salad sandwich – tasty!  the cheese might have categorized this meal as vegetarian rather than vegan, but still an honorable effort.

i ventured down the street to a fabulous spot called cafe sunflower.  this restaurant just might change your life, no joke!  their pad thai is unbelievable with coconut-peanut sauce, baby corn, and tofu.  oh, and their avocados this time of year are perfectly green and creamy and flavorful; seriously, to die for!  although i probably ate more than i needed to in one sitting, it was worth every bite.  🙂

now, after the work day was done and the laptops were closed, i headed to the local kroger to pick up dinner.  i figured if we were doing this whole vegan thing, we might as well go all the way, so i found a couple mediterranean-inspired dishes in a vegetarian/vegan cookbook hiding in my cupboard.  and, while we’re talking about this cookbook, i honestly have not the slightest clue as to how it came into my possession.  i can nearly guarantee i didn’t purchase it myself, but don’t we all buy things with the best of intentions that sometimes end up otherwise…?  oh good, it’s not just me.

as i was placing my items on the checkout belt, i couldn’t help but realize this trip to the store was probably the healthiest i’d ever made and, by no coincidence, one of the more expensive ones.  it’s an interesting phenomenon that the cheaper food can tend to be bad for you while you must pay more for something better.  now, i will say that a few of the items i had to buy to make dinner are infrequent purchases that once they’re in the cupboard, i’m set for a while.  i guess i’ll just look at it from that perspective…!

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i hustled home, threw down the groceries, changed into something comfortable, and got to work!  on the menu was homemade red pepper hummus followed by quinoa and pistachio salad with moroccan pesto.  noms!  i very much enjoyed making the hummus because i got to do something i’ve never done in the kitchen:  roast and peel peppers!  for some reason, it was actually quite fun.  please don’t ask why.  there’s just something satisfying about blistering the skin of a pepper, peeling it off, and then crushing it in a blender to make something tasty.  now, i’ve never made my own hummus, but i will easily say that this recipe needed more liquid.  my pint-sized food processor had a hard time blending the chickpeas and peppers all together, so the bottle of olive oil i keep on the top shelf came in very handy.  although it probably could have used a heavy swig more, the hummus still was very tasty.  the coarse texture made us smile because we knew it was homemade.  only critique?  more garlic!

as for the main course, the quinoa salad was a hit!  despite the fact that i accidentally put the roasted peppers in the cilantro sauce instead of chopping them up, the flavor was still impeccable.  the chickpeas gave the dish a nice little “crunch” along with the pistachios.  and the best part?  we didn’t even have to eat a whole bowl of it to be full!  guess that’s what happens when you eat the right stuff.  😉

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with plenty of leftovers for lunch tomorrow, i’d say we’re on the right track.  and with blog recommendations from you all that will more than likely turn into another meal one night this week, i’m excited!

on a somewhat related note, here are pictures of the amazing food phillip and i had at the lindley park filling station when we visited our friends mary and mike last week in greensboro.  those fried green tomatoes, sweet potato chips, and hot dogs were a great binge before this cleansing week!

and, because i like you guys so much, here’s a few more fun ones from our little weekend getaway.  love it!

vegan week!

okay, folks, this week we’re taking on an adventure: eating vegan-style all week!  yes, you read that correctly.  and i’m talking breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, dessert.  the whole enchilada. as such, i thought i’d reach out and get some advice from those of you who lead this lifestyle on a daily basis.

for the next five days, i’ll need your help getting together vegan-friendly recipes and, for those of you living here in atlanta, discovering the best vegan restaurants in town.  since i’m brand new to this all, i’m open to your wisdom, tips, and tricks to make this a fun and enjoyable experience.  bring on the best recommendations you’ve got and, in advance, thank you!  stay tuned to see how i manage.  😉

on your mark, get set, tofu…!?

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i was trying to decide what to make this week since i actually am in town when i came across a vegetarian cookbook in my kitchen cupboard.

“clark, is this yours?” i hollered at my brother.

“huh, no,” he answered, as if he would ever own this kind of cookbook.

i checked the front cover to see if it had been signed as a gift from someone, but there was nothing.  i don’t ever recall making the conscious decision to make this purchase, and i am at a loss as to how it came into my possession.  i guess its origin will remain a mystery!

i flipped through the pages, searching for something a little outside my comfort zone, and there it was, sesame tofu stir-fry over rice.  now, as we all know, i am a meat-eater through and through (not to be confused with a maneater), and even though i’ve only ever had tofu a few times (so few times that i can probably count them on one hand), i figured i’d be adventurous and give it a try.  so, tofu is what would be for dinner!

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