I’m back!

After a 2 month “break,” we are starting up the vegan diet again. Our 28 days of the Engine 2 Diet was good, and tough. We did see amazing results and my cholesterol was down 20 points after 1 month of the vegan diet and 2 months of non-vegan (though trying to eat healthier overall).

Unfortunately, those 2 non-vegan months brought back several pounds. So here we go again. This time, I won’t be strictly following the Engine 2 diet recipes. I am also going to explore more vegan restaurant options.

Saturday, 6/23/12:

Breakfast: Kashi Cereal with almond milk

Lunch: Chipotle veggie bowl

Dinner: Bloodroot restaurant in Bridgeport, CT. http://www.bloodroot.com/ My husband and I shared the following:

  • Soup: Chick pea & tomato with carrots & potatos (so hearty)
  • Entree: Chinese bean curd skin rolls with jasmine rice and dipping sauce (amazingly delicious!)
  • Dessert: Chocolate “devastation” cake (so rich)

Bloodroot was pricey, but everything is organic and locally produced when possible. Quite a different dining experience. We would go back to try more entrees.

Sunday, 6/24/12

Breakfast: Kashi Cereal with almond milk

Lunch: http://georgies-diner.com/

  • Vegan Southwestern Omlette with chips and salsa (pretty good) Image
  • Tofu Piccatta (delishious!) Image

Just finished my grocery shopping. I’m working on dinner now!

Day 29 – Vegetarian Chili!

I made vegetarian chili last night based on this recipe on Allrecipes.com. It was delish and so easy to make! We have such a huge pot, it will be great throughout the week.

If a dish is called vegetarian, but there is no dairy in it, can it also be named vegan chili? Or does “vegan” only apply to something that typically has dairy but is made without? Hmmm….

Day 28!

Day 28 of the Engine 2 Diet 28-day Challenge. Let me state that we were about 85% successful in keeping to the vegan diet. We started the challenge giving ourselves the option to have whatever we wanted in social settings. At the beginning, we stuck with vegan options even though we had the opportunity to have non-vegan food. Towards the end though, we…or I, especially, exercised my option much more….thus the other 15%.  I will have to say that once you exercise that option and “slip,” it’s much harder to resist that option whenever the opportunity arises. Nonetheless, this was a great success for my husband and I.

We started the challenge because (1) we were inspired after watching Forks over Knives and Engine 2 Diet; (2) we were curious to see if we could do it; (3) we wanted to adopt some healthy eating habits; (4) we were sure there would be health benefits, including weight loss and cholesterol levels.

I am not much of a dieter. It’s only in the past 5.5 years of marriage that my weight has slowly but steadily gone up. Twenty pounds over 5+ years. Blissfully married, slower metabolism, lack of exercise, pure enjoyment of food. I once dropped about 10 pounds over the course of 10 months by cutting calories, just to gain it all back in 3 months during a time of transition–buying a house, moving, changing jobs. I have never dropped 5 pounds and a pant size in 4 weeks. I’m a quarter of the way to fitting back into my wedding gown (and the few articles of clothing I couldn’t part with when I gave all the good stuff to my sister).

My husband’s weight pretty much paralleled mine. He lost a bit last summer after he rekindled his love of cycling. But the winter weather left his bike untouched in the garage and the weight slowly crept back up. Well, with no exercise and on the vegan diet alone, he lost 9 pounds plus a belt notch! And though he took his blood test 2 weeks into the diet (and factor in his rigorous cycling last summer/fall), his cholesterol is 45 points lower than 2 years ago and even more compared to 4 years ago. Twenty-five of those points were LDL.

What we’ve learned:

  • A delicious variety of foods we knew existed and may have tried but never gravitated towards…. (almond milk, 70% chocolate, fresh fruits and veggies, homemade hummus)
  • Things we thought were healthy we needed to rethink! (Olive oil, branding of products, etc.)
  • Awareness of organic food, food industry practices, reasons to be vegan or vegetarian, etc.
  • Appreciation of preparing, cooking, and knowing exactly what we’re putting into our bodies
  • Processed food or fast food may taste good, but it can feel pretty gross once you’ve eaten it and thought about it.
  • I still appreciate fine or gourmet food, even if it isn’t vegan. But I’m more conscious of whether it’s fresh, organic, farm fed, free roaming, and portion control…
  • My eating habits have changed. When I go to a restaurant now, I order the last thing I ever would’ve ordered prior to trying the Engine 2 Diet, and the first thing I would’ve ordered back then is the last thing I’d order now. (not that I’m not tempted to sometimes). But I make better decisions…like salads, veggies and oatmeal.
  • We like to eat healthy. Healthy can be delicious. We craved meat and dairy less than we expected we would. We desire to keep this up.

We will continue into 3 months as that’s when I will be able to get my blood test for comparison. I think allowing ourselves the flexibility to have non-vegan food in social settings works for us. Let’s see how the next month goes. =)

Day 25

Breakfast: I couldn’t resist getting the Steel Cut Oats with apples and raisins from the local deli. Yum.

Lunch: Leftovers from last night’s dinner of tofu, meat crumbles and bok choy over brown rice.

Snacks throughout the day: Cuties orange, some tortilla chips with salsa, piece or two of 70% chocolate

Dinner: E2’s Pasta Primavera

I put this over whole grain fettucine. It was pretty good. Could’ve used some parmasian cheese…which I had in my fridge…oooh, but I resisted and it was fine without it too. =P

Just 3 more days to go before we complete the Engine 2 28-day challenge. We haven’t been perfect so far having had a few social outings where we had some meat or dairy, though much less than we normally would’ve had. It’s been great and we will be extending this to the 3-month mark.

Days 12-23

I’m back! I don’t think I’m a very good blogger. Everytime I start a diary, I have the first 10 pages filled out, and then I have about a 5 month gap before I have the next 10 entries. =/

Over the past 10 days, we’ve had more social outings (birthday dinners, fundraising dinner, happy hour) and so we’ve had some meats and cheeses. Still a lot less than we had before we started the diet. Some of the things we had (individually or together) were 2 slices of veggie pizza, 1/4 of a kobe beef burger, nachos with tiny bits of duck, my hubby went to a boys BBQ outing and had hot dogs, etc. In any case, here are photos of some of the vegan yummies we’ve made or had out at dinner.

One morning, I was out and wanted to see what vegan options were available near my work. I went to two different coffee shops and each only had 1 item. Here is an apple bread and it was $2.75. Comparable to something at Starbucks.

This vegan cookie at another coffee shop cost $2.25. Whew! It was okay. I wouldn’t purchase again.

This is mushroom and Chinese spinach over whole grain soba noodles. It was a recipe from the Engine 2 book. Unfortunately, it looks a lot better than it tasted. I think I will make it with veggie broth next time so that it’s soupy.

Here’s one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast when I don’t have the Rip’s Big Bowl. Soy yogurt, berries (or bananas) with Grape Nuts.

One day, I needed a quickie lunch so I just did nut butter with sliced bananas on toasted whole grain bread. Another easy fave. All too often, I eat half the meal before I remember to take a photo. =P

Okay, so this was dinner out and it was a treat! We went to a local Mexican restaurant and ordered the guacamole (made at the table) with a veggie fajita. Mmm! This is the prep station for the guacamole.

Beautiful….and DELICIOUS!!! Though, a small set back….is the huge basket of corn tortilla chips we had with it.

Mmm, veggie fajita came out on a hot skillet.

So one day, I went out to Chinatown in NYC to have lunch with my mom. It was my first time out to the city since trying the vegan diet. We struggled a bit with where to eat because we usually have dim sum…loaded with oily or fried meat or seafood dishes. We went to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant, one that had been around for 20+ years and I have passed by it hundreds of times but never noticed it. It was a very interesting experience and I liked it! Here are some appetizers we tried.

On the left is a quad of flavored gluten or tofu (curry, sweet and sour, black bean and garlic). On the right is tofu skin.

Here we have a medley of Chinese vegetables in a hot pot with a side of brown rice. Plain and simple.

In the middle of week two, I still hadn’t used the head of cauliflower that I purchased from week 1. So I made a huge pot of cauliflower soup. I love it!

Soup with veggie burger for dinner. My tummy was satisfied.

One morning, I forgot to pack breakfast and lunch. The nice thing about the area around my work is there are some great artisan bakeries, delis and restaurants. I went to one bakery and well, the only thing I could get for breakfast was the Steel Oats with apples and cranberries. Before this diet, that would’ve been the last thing I would order, but now it’s something that I would gravitate towards. This was absolutely delicious! Well, I suspect there could be dairy in here but it was oh so delish!

So that’s about it for the photos. Of course I ate plenty more but mostly repeats of photos I’ve already posted and fruits. My week 3 shopping was about $80 and I didn’t go to the market until the middle of week 3 since I had so many leftovers.

Weight wise, I haven’t dropped anymore. Just about 4-5 pounds total. It could be that we’ve been having a lot of avocados and dark chocolate and no exercise. I don’t mind though. I am still one pant size down and feeling great. It feels like I’ve lost 10 pounds because it’s the fat that’s coming off. I’m fitting into dresses and pants I haven’t worn in quite a while. It’s like shopping from my own wardrobe!

My hubby’s blood results came back. He got the blood test two weeks into the diet so it’s hard to say how it affected the results. He was cycling about 100 miles per week over the summer and early fall, though he hadn’t exercised for the past 4 months. The verdict….his cholesterol is down about 45 points from his last test 2 years ago, and down a total of 59 points from 4 years ago. I’m sure some of the 45 points was from exercise last summer but I have to believe a good portion was from our diet, even just 2 weeks of it. Both of our diets have remained pretty much the same the past four years and my cholesterol has been consistently….higher than I’d like.

My next blood test won’t happen for another 2+ months because my doctor wanted to see “lasting” results that wouldn’t be accurate from just 1 month. Also because I don’t want to pay $75+ to get the cholesterol checked at a CVS clinic for the urge to know after the 28 days. It’s good though, because that encourages me to continue to stick (more strictly) with the diet at least for a full three months.

I’m pretty happy reaching for hummus or fruits or Rip’s big bowl when I get hungry. I’ve learned a lot about shopping for fresh, whole foods, and preparing healthier meals without the oil, salt and cheese. I’m excited to watch Food Inc. tonight.

Oooh, and my cousin (25 year old male) watched Forks over Knives with his buddies last week and decided to go pescetarian because he just loves seafood. Now, this is the last person I ever thought would give up meat because he works in a Chinese restaurant! And he loves food, just a little more than I do. I hope he’ll start seeing the benefits! My aunt is intrigued. Maybe she’ll be more conscious of what she eats at her restaurant too.

Just five more days before we hit our 28 day challenge. I should technically stretch it to 32 since we did have some meat/cheese during our social outings, but in any case, I know we will continue this diet well into three months before my blood test. My friends say we’ll be having many more social outings at this rate…lol. It’s all good, all in moderation…and while I am weary of all the tactics of the food industry, I do like the finer gourmet style restaurants which have a rep for fresh, organic and whole attitude to their cuisine. Just the slightest bit of consolation there. Next post to come…will probably be next weekend!

 

 

Day 11 – Tofu Steak!

Back on track now. Breakfast was a fave nut butter with sliced bananas on whole wheat bread.

Lunch was last night’s leftover pizza. It was great out of the oven but the crust just wasn’t the same after an overnight in the fridge and a pop in the microwave. It would probably taste good being reheated in a toaster oven.

Tonight’s dinner was Tofu Steaks. I didn’t do the mashed potatoes and green beans on the E2 recipe and just did portobello mushrooms and red peppers instead. I topped it with veggie crumbles left over from pizza the night before and it was great.

Even though this was a large meal for me, it wasn’t filling enough for the hubby. Two hours later he made a veggie burger which hit the spot. As he put it, he’s the vegan who has secondsies.

We topped off the evening with a little bit of lemon sorbet. A nice treat!

Hubby is finally getting his blood test tomorrow, 11 days into the diet. Hopefully the numbers have dropped since his test last year.

Day 9 and 10

Missed a day of blogging on Sunday!

Breakfast = same chocolate chip pancakes with sliced bananas. It was so good on Saturday, I had to have it again!

Lunch = Hubby made me an awesome veggie burger!

Dinner = I wasn’t feeling well and we were low on groceries so we copped out and ordered in Chinese food. Braised tofu, Chinese spinach in garlic sauce, brown rice, and my boo boo which was spinach tofu soup which had some egg white in it. Quite nice to have some Chinese food. Oily, yes. Did we enjoy it? YES!

Today, I had Rip’s Big Bowl for breakfast, leftover spinach tofu soup for lunch, apple, banana and salsa and chips as snacks between meals. After $120 at Whole Foods for week 2 groceries, I made the veggie pizza. Delish! Veggie crumbs, mushrooms, onions, red peppers, garlic, sliced tomatoes.

I’ve lost a few pounds but I really see it in my waistline. I need to wear belts now!

Day 7 Weigh-In

Hubby got home late last night after a birthday party feast….of grilled veggies! He even declined having the chocolate mousse birthday cake even though he had the option to have whatever he wanted! Well, then again, I did tell him no cheese, dairy or meat when he left so maybe I didn’t give him much of an option. He said it was quite hard to do all that at a Mexican restaurant. He did enjoy a lot of the chips and salsa.  I’m so proud of him! 

It wasn’t quite fair for him to do a weigh in after a huge meal. I was also drained by the time he got home and went to bed, though I did do my weigh in…after my vegan cupcake! So the verdict. I have lost 2-3 pounds and my hubby lost 1-2 pounds. It varies depending on the time of day. Let’s see if the scale continues to go down in the coming weeks. I have heard of people who gain weight when they go vegetarian/vegan because they eat so much of the good stuff. 

This week, I will try to incorporate some exercise once I feel back to my old self. I held up well yesterday until the end of the day. I had a huge headache and was so drained I was pretty much knocked out after 8pm. 

Looking forward to trying the pancake recipe for breakfast this morning and off to shopping for week 2!

Day 7 Meals

I went to work today! Feeling much better, almost my old self. And I couldn’t resist….having been out of work the past 4 days, I really missed the vegan cupcake from Katalina’s! I had one for lunch and I have 2 at home, sitting on my dining table, just waiting for me (after my weigh in)! They use vegan cream cheese. I’ll have to look that one up. I’m looking forward to making some vegan cupcakes when I get a chance.

Breakfast was a slice of whole grain toast, thinly spread with nut butter and topped with bananas. One of my favorites, even before taking the Engine 2 Challenge. 

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Lunch was meatloaf and broccoli leftovers from last night’s dinner. I had a banana and an apple in the afternoon and just made myself a nice salad with a bunch of produce I haven’t finished, so I didn’t follow the E2 challenge meal for today. Kale, lettuce, sprouts, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and avocado. Dressing was balsamic vinegar, mustard and agave nectar. Delish!

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Hubby is out for a work birthday celebration. Can’t wait to hear what he had at the restaurant! We’ll do the weigh-in later tonight. Then I can have my cupcake!

Day 5 Dinner – Portobello Mushroom Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

I had an apple with nut butter for a snack between lunch and dinner. I also had a few bites of yummy 70% chocolate. Mmmmm.

Dinner was amazing tonight! Portobello Mushroom Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries!

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There hasn’t been a whole lot of cooking the past few days, but a lot of time on prep. Slicing and dicing. I’ve never used my Magic Bullet so much! I love using it for hummus, beans, (used it for the chocolate mousse tofu…ick) and banana ice cream! I think I will treat myself to banana ice cream tonight. 

I’m wondering if I should invest in a food processor. Would that cut down prep time in terms of slicing and dicing? I have a blender and a magic bullet so I’m good on the smoothies, hummus, ice cream, etc. Any thoughts or suggestions for other must have tools in the kitchen?