Sunday, February 28, 2010

Surprise!!! It's New Food Sunday...

New Food Friday was a flop. I tried Triple Sesame Tofu. It was horrible. I would describe it as 'soggy and lacking any other redeeming qualities'. The broccoli I made with it was good, but really is there ANY way to mess up that delicious vegetable? That is a rhetorical question because the answer is a resounding "NO, of course not!" New Food Friday did teach me something though, the lesson learned being, if the recipe calls for extra-firm tofu, use extra-firm tofu. Even pressing it did not help it hold its shape when dredging it in tahini and seeds. (And, I learned that I will not make that recipe again.)
Tonight, I made up my own recipe. I had veggies to use up and put together a new dish. Cutter said as we sat down to eat, "What is this? New Food Sunday?" I laughed and said, "sure." We had Ang's Polenta and Eggplant "Lasagna." I made a marinara sauce with the veggies I had left in the fridge: red onion, green pepper, zucchini and mushrooms. I sliced up a roll of store bought polenta (That was the new food, we have never had polenta before and it was GREAT! Hayden loved it. I will make it from scratch though next time. It didn't look that complicated. Cutter described polenta as 'cheese grits' and I agree with his assessment.), and peeled and sliced up the eggplant that was looking pretty sad in my fridge. Brushed all slices with evoo and sprinkled garlic salt on them. Baked them on a greased up cookie sheet in the oven for 25 mins at 450 degrees, turning half-way through. When they were done baking I layered everything up in a glass baking dish in the following order: sauce, eggplant, sauce, polenta (some nutritional yeast sprinkled in for good measure), sauce and a bit of vegan cheese on top, just for the 'lasagna effect'. Threw it back in the oven for about 20 more mins, at 350 degrees to let things get all cozy in there and called it d.o.n.e. There were "yums" heard all 'round the table. New Food Sunday was a success!
That is what I love about food, turning "what you got left" into a delectable masterpiece. There is something so rewarding about not letting food go to waste. I suppose that is my grandma talking, but really, using what you have and making it taste good can be a real rush. I challenge you to try it!
Happy Sunday Night. And good-bye Olympics, we will see you again soon!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a cow says... moo.

Milk, it is everywhere. Kind of like a white, creamy ghost that haunts you at every turn. One of the most difficult, okay more just annoying parts of this journey thus far has been all the incessant label reading. Still, two full months into vegan living and I am still checking, rechecking and triple checking labels. Talk about time consuming.
But I do it because just when you think it is safe to eat... BOOYA, it is not! For instance, Rice Cheeze. I haven't been eating it too much but my son loves it on a grilled "cheese" sandwich. Pricey, but a little goes a long way when you are feeding a toddler (Unless it is Oreos- those go real quick. Which by the way are vegan. Whoda thought?). Anyhow, when I bought the Cheeze the first time I must have assumed that it was vegan. It is rice cheese for goodness sake. Last night, after making Hayden the sandwich, I checked the package. Sure enough, has whey (milk protein) in it.
Whey is in just about all processed crackers and just about everything for that matter. I bought a box of graham crackers awhile back and they did not have animal product in it. So, when I needed graham cracker crumbs I just grabbed a box, not thinking I needed to check. I got home to make the most delicious treat ever and to my dismay... whey was present, looming like a goblin on Halloween.
I was making Alicia Silverstones vegan peanut butter cups for Cutter for Valentines Day. It is his favorite candy and I thought it would be a special treat. They looked so darn delicious that despite the whey, I tried one. I had to. No, really, I had to. Cutter ate 12 whole cups in just one day. Definitely a treat you will want to make someday. I will remake them for Easter, except this time I am checking the label. Cutting corners never works out well, especially when it comes to whey.
Since the vegan quest began, I have substantially cut back on the amount of processed foods that we buy. If there was one thing I should cut back on it would be the amount of tortilla chips that I buy. We eat chips and salsa on an almost daily basis. There is so much trans fat and salt in the darn things, but I love them nonetheless. I need a good substitute. I have tried eating carrots and hummus when a chips craving hits, but it doesn't seem to do the trick. Too bad there isn't whey in my favorite chips. Whey has the power to quash my cravings. Or, maybe I am just not meant to give up my chips and salsa... Oh whey, why can't you be where I need you the most?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

tofu and honey. coconuts. and boots.

Tofu and Honey.

Four days ago already was New Food Friday (It was four days when I started this post, now a full seven days have passed since the last new food friday. Things have been crazy around here and posting has been the last thing on my mind). I made Honey Mustard Tofu. It was delicious. A highly ironic new dish for a vegan since honey is NOT vegan. My reasons for making it were two-fold. First, I have a full jar of honey from 2009 that needs to get eaten. I don't want to waste it and it was a good way to use up 3/4 cup of it. Second, I had a pound of tofu in my fridge that was about to go bad. So, I made it. It was wonderful and in an attempt to finish of the jar of sweetness that our good friends the bees made, I will most likely make it again.

I discovered that really, anything fried is going to be good... even tofu. I told Hayden they were "nuggets" and he dipped the tofu chunks in ketchup and loved them. One might be surprised that I am just now discovering this little tidbit of tofu information. The truth is in all my years of vegetarianism, last Friday was the first time I ever made any tofu dish. I have had a relationship based on fear with tofu. Something about the sheer mass and texture of a big ol' block of white tofu has always intimidated me. It seemed like such a process with the draining and pressing and cutting and all. But, one night with just me and tofu and my world was rocked. The stuff isn't so scary after all. A bit labor intensive but, if it can pass as something tasty for my toddler, then it is worth all the effort.

So here is my message to you, tofu... "I will not live in fear. You don't scare me!"


Hayden and I went on a probiotic last week. I did enough research to discover a good probiotic is worth its weight in gold. So I shelled out the thirty bucks for a months supply for both of us. Even though there are probiotics available for infants, I figured since I am nursing Hudson, he is covered by my daily dose. I chose to do a Coconut kefir probiotic. Turns out coconuts are a pretty powerful fruit. Coconut kefir can actually be made easily enough. One just needs some time, young green coconuts and a kefir started pack. A few months supply can be homemade for about 2o dollars. I am planning on trying it out. I will let you know if and when I do. (It is important for me to write out my plans, sort of ups my degree of accountability. So, if in two weeks I haven't updated you on my coconut progress... get on me. See how I just passed the responsibility off on you? Humans are overwhelmingly good at making other people responsible for their life. Me? I am no exception.)

And boots.

Any of my facebook friends may recall this recent meltdown. Last Friday Hayden spent the morning throwing up for no apparent reason. (I think it was an adverse reaction to his antibiotic. Ten straight days of serious pooping and his body couldn't handle it any more and just got rid of everything in his belly in some other way. Poor baby.) Anyhow after hour one of puking, I discovered that at some point he had vomited on my one pair of brown boots. The boots that I wore everyday to internship. I picked up the boot, held it in my lap like a sick little puppy and then I cried. I cried for my boot, the loss of my morning plans, the toddler that I love who was so ill and I cried for me.

There are somethings in life, like puke on boots that I will never be able to fix with healthy food, exercise, probiotics or whatever new remedy comes along. Life cannot be fixed with a three-step plan. Life is about relationships and doing the best you can with whatever God has given you. Sometimes I forget this. That is a lie. Most days I forget this, and think that I am missing out on some sort of magic pill to make bad things go away. I get frustrated that everyone but me seems to know the secret to life. That frustration usually goes away as soon as I remember what I know to be true about life. And then I just try and smile about something, anything, because smiling just makes you feel better about everything.

I didn't try any magic cleaning product to fix my boots. I threw them away. They were crusted in salt from days spent in Minnesota winters and not worth the effort. Turns out by the end of the week I randomly found a new pair of boots, much prettier, warmer and over 60% off. Booya I said! Bring on the puke.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

every where i look i see beans...

We eat A LOT of beans in this house. Within the past week we ate green beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, split peas and black beans. That is like 1.5 beans per day. I repeat, A LOT of beans. Currently I have exactly one pound of black beans soaking. I have contemplated black bean soup, black bean burgers or black bean tacos.

There are so many things one can do with the beautiful versatile bean. A can of beans can even be used as a teething toy. We are starting Hudson early, establishing a healthy love of beans.

I just couldn't resist sharing this picture.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

mirror, mirror on the wall...

I forced myself to the gym the other day. In the winter the gym is just what I do. On this particular day at the gym I was slow jogging on the treadmill and despising every minute of it. I couldn't help but think about all the great things about life I was missing out on because I was trapped at the gym. It got me thinking, which is one thing I can say about the treadmill- it is good for serious thinking.

I was thinking about my relationship with the gym. The gym has always been my free ticket to eat what I want. Meaning, I can cancel out calories consumed by logging gym hours. In my past life this was a pretty fair trade because I had time to kill. Why not have an extra glass of wine or a big fat slice of cake if I am just going to burn it off later? In fact it was a perfect system. I could eat what I want and avoid being bored during daylight hours. The gym gave me a purpose and a place I needed to be. Plus, the gym was a good place to impress hot men with how tight my shorts were. I won't pretend that the gym is not a great place to flaunt ones sexuality... because that would be a farce. I even scored a date with a personal trainer for that crazy bike race guy Lance Armstrong. See? The gym really did work for me.

Now I am a mom and wife. Definitely not looking to pick up men (one is plenty for me- thank you very much), my stretch marks are not exactly something I want to flaunt and most importantly, I don't have the luxury of being selfish with my time anymore. A trip to the gym simply takes time away from a multitude of other things I would rather be doing.

It is time to face my new reality: Two hours a day at the gym is just not practical nor desirable. This leaves me with a couple of options. Option #1: be okay with carrying around extra weight. Or, option #2: figure out a way of eating that is healthy and negates the need for a whole lotta gym time. Anyone who knows me well would tell you that option one isn't really an option at all.

I suppose this is one reason why the vegan lifestyle has become more attractive to me. As much as I would like to lose weight and get back into my old jeans I am just not as motivated by my vanity as I used to be. The idea of looking a certain way no longer propels me to restrict foods or slave away at the gym. I am much more motivated by healthy, sustainable living. Having a husband and family has altered my body image and the way I view food and exercise. In short, it has changed my priorities.

I want to eat to live, not workout to eat. It is a whole paradigm shift for me. Wanting food to be a sense of nourishment and pleasure is a far cry from my old attitude that food is nothing more than a bunch of calories that need to be counted and then burned. The past month and a half of vegan living has been one of my most peaceful periods of time, in terms of my relationship with food. I firmly believe that this is due in great part to the fact that my personal beliefs about food are now congruent with how I am actually eating. Eating healthy has become a whole lot simpler now that I am at peace with what I eat.

I am discovering that when I stop battling calories, my need for the gym decreases. Oh, I still will go... because a part of me enjoys the challenge and a good sweat. Plus, I fully believe in the benefits of exercise and having an hour to myself while my boys socialize with other kids in the daycare is a good way to keep my sanity. But I strive now to go to build fitness, not to justify a second serving of extra cheese pizza.

Friday, February 5, 2010

crimson and clover...

...over and over (I want this sickness to be!) Our house is still not well. Hayden went on antibiotics on Tuesday. That makes three out of four Honeycutts all drugged up. I am grateful we have antibiotics but they still make me nervous. I try to feed my family healthy, we wash our hands, I don't let my kids make-out with strangers and still we seem to get some major illness at least once a year. This is the first time Hayden has been on antibiotics and I can say that I feel at least marginally proud of that. But I can't take full credit because I really do not know if there is anything a mom can do to fully protect her kids from germs. It always seems like there is more you could do. Example, a nutritionist friend of mine just told me about systemic enzymes and probiotics needing to be paired with antibiotics. What? When did this happen I ask? So I read about it, totally get it and understand why it is the best course of action. Then I looked at prices.

Being healthy can be REALLY expensive. And time consuming. Being healthy takes A LOT of time. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Just remembering to get the twice a day meds into myself and my boys has proven a feat, not to mention our daily vitamins. The thought of also adding a systemic enzyme and probiotic to the regimen feels overwhelming. On top of the Vics vapor rub, humidifier and nasal lubricating. I am not saying it is impossible... just more than I am accustomed to.

I know I am making excuses because I am sure if I put my mind to it... I could make time and find money for what I call the necessary "extras." However, just typing this all makes me want to bury my head in the sand.

Bury my head in the sand? I want to believe that I am doing enough. That the vitamin I give is enough, that the humidifier is enough, that the antibiotic is enough. I want to believe that the way my mom did things was good enough. I want to believe that the way I do things is good enough. Why? Because it is easier and lets me justify the status quo. It is so much easier to write off remedies like systemic enzymes and probiotics as health quackery instead of opening up and challenging myself to new possibilities.

Balance in all the madness is what I seek. I can't try every up and coming remedy. I would kill myself trying- and ultimately miss out on a whole lotta livin'. But on the other hand, I do not want to become complacent. I want to be open to everything but wise in what I select to pursue. It sounds so simple but feels oh so complicated. I have always said that wisdom is the application of knowledge. With the Internet knowledge is not difficult to come by. You can find information on everything at any time. Since I am new to this vegan thing I often feel overwhelmed with all the new things I am knowing.

Sometimes it feels like I am a baby vegan, just opening my eyes to the possibility of what healthy living could look like for me and my family. Huh?! When I put it like that I feel more excited then I do overwhelmed. So that is my new self-story. I am just a baby vegan. I can't possibly employ all the ways to keep my family healthy, all in one day. Baby steps for this mamma. So today, I will go to Whole Foods, find the most inexpensive probiotic for us and call it an accomplishment of epic baby proportions.

As a foot note: Yesterday was New Food Friday. We had stuffed peppers. It was a new recipe and not one I will use again. However, Cutter made it and for that it may have been the most delicious dinner I ate all week (minus my Roasted Root Veggie Soup)!