Monday, May 14, 2012

Veg Challenge Week Two

It has been officially two weeks since I started the Veg Challenge! So far so good! There have been a few ups and downs, but those have been relatively minor. I found that the headaches didn't return and nor have I been overly hungry at all. The first week I tended to snack on this and that between meals; this week I've found that I didn't need to do that. My husband has been super supportive and has made sure I kept on track. Just today he was going to make some rice cooked in chicken stock and then, realizing I couldn't eat it, started over again. I wouldn't have made a big deal of it if he hadn't, but he obviously wanted to make sure I reached my goal, so I'm thankful he's keeping me on the straight and narrow.

One of the questions I've been asked since I started is whether I've lost any weight. I suppose the assumption is that you eat mostly salad and rabbit food, but that certainly isn't the case! I may have cut out a number of things from my diet, but I've also added in a number that wouldn't have normally been there. I eat a lot more rice, beans, nuts, potatoes, bread and a handful of other things I wouldn't have previously eaten. I doubt anyone has ever lost a ton of weight eating those on a regular basis. Previously, I would have eaten a small amount of lean meat, fish, veggies, fruit and no fat yogurt. I would have rarely eaten bread, and certainly not white bread, rice maybe once a week maximum, and potatoes maybe once or twice a month. I'd have a better chance of losing weight on my regular diet! I'm more surprised I haven't gained weight! Although, I'll admit, my percentage body fat is down, which definitely counts for something. So unless you have absolutely dreadful eating habits to begin with, eating vegan isn't going to be some magic weight loss plan. As well it shouldn't! Vegans eat this way all the time. Can you imagine being on a diet for the rest of your life? That would be crazy and certainly not healthy!

The highlights of the week included completely botching a huge batch of chili and having dinner at my parents and in-laws where, of course, I wasn't able to partake in what everyone else was eating. My first instance of social "I can't eat that" awkwardness. But no worries, everything worked out.

Well, except the chili. It died a horrible death despite my repeated attempts to resurrect it. It takes a few hours to make, so I decided to start it after the kids were in bed. That meant staying up late, but it would make about six meals, so I figured it was worth the investment of my time. I had made it once before and it was really good.  While it simmered for two and a half hours, I diligently checked on it to ensure it had enough liquid and give it a bit of a stir. Wouldn't you know in the last seven minutes I burned the damn thing! How it happened I don't know. I blame the Internet for distracting me. R.I.P. Chili. I didn't know you well, but you stole three hours of my life I will never get back. And you tasted like crap.

My parents apparently don't read my blog *wink wink*, because they had no idea I wouldn't be partaking it those delicious burgers and delectable lemon meringue pie...drool...sorry. I made myself some roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes to go along with the salad. Lemon meringue pie is my favorite. Insert frowny face. The next day at the in laws I planned ahead better and brought some homemade soup to go with the salad and Italian bread they had. It was a delicious sweet potato, green apple, carrot and leek soup. So good! I'm glad I have more of it in the freezer. The peach pie *may* have had a teeny weeny amount of butter in it, but I can't be held accountable for my own ignorance. Ignorance truly is bliss.

So week two is done like disco and we're on to week three!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Hope Babies Bounce

My cousin just had her first baby yesterday, and Miss. A has been obsessed with it! She LOVES this little baby already. I think it has sparked an interest in babies in general. She's been particularly intrigued with where babies come from and the fact she and her sister were once babies. After mulling it over for a while, she seems to think she's got it all figured out. At least this is what I gather from the conversation we had at bedtime.

"When I'm one I'll be a baby and I'll have one candle." She said firmly.

"You were already one, and you did have a candle. You just don't remember because you were a baby." Tenses are not her strong suit.

"When I was a very small baby I was in your tummy."


"And  <Baby K> she was in your tummy too."


"I was in your tummy and then I popped out"

"Er...yeah, pretty much."

"And <Baby K>, she popped out too. And you caught us"

"No, the doctor caught you"

"And <Baby K> ?"

"Yes, her too."

"He caught us and lots of babies and he juggled us"

"! You don't juggle babies!"

"Yes you do. In Megamind, Metroman juggled babies."

"Yeah, but that was a cartoon, and HE was a SUPERHERO. Regular people don't juggle babies."

She seemed to think about this. "Yeah, it's too noisy. The doctor should put them down gently."

"That's a much better idea."

The bonus to this odd conversation was it allowed me to skip a few pages of Alice in Wonderland without her noticing. I'm glad we had this conversation now and not once she was kicked out of Med School.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Veg Challenge Week One

A week ago I took my oldest daughter, Miss. A, on a bus ride downtown. Our goal was to have a little adventure together and check out Vegfest. The festival is only in it's fourth year, and one of the most popular attractions was the Cupcake Challenge. So of course it wasn't there the one year we decided to go. Instead it was replaced with the Veg Challenge. The goal of which is to eat an entirely vegan diet for the whole month of May. Right, who wants cupcakes when you can have tofu? However, there would be points awarded and prizes won. Being a SAHM for a good four years now, I'm running out of ways to entertain myself. So, naturally I decided to do this because it would just be to easy to read a book or take up needlepoint. For the record I have a needlepoint pattern in a drawer right now. What the heck do all those symbols mean?

I figured it wouldn't be that hard anyways. Last month we mostly ate what would qualify as "vegan" at dinnertime with the exception of Saturdays. Saturdays my husband cooks, so if it can't go on the BBQ or picked up through the drive through, it isn't eaten. Sure, it would be an adjustment, but hardly a drastic one. I was curious to see if I could successfully go a whole month without slipping up. I like a challenge and was willing to give it a try.

 I've completed the first week and it's gone pretty well.  I'd have to say it isn't as easy peasy as I thought it would be. Here are some of my observations so far:

Plan Ahead!

I never really had a chance to plan what I was going to be eating. I had meant to, but life gets busy and I completely ran out of time. On the first day I figured I'd wing breakfast and then pick up a few essentials at the store later. I had counted on toast with peanut butter and a side of fruit to get me through the morning. As it turned out there was milk in the bread so berries, bananas and water were the only thing on the menu. Not exactly filling!  I was lucky that I had made a few vegan meals earlier in the week and froze them. If I had planned ahead properly I wouldn't have been wandering through the kitchen hungry and wondering what to eat.

Grocery Shopping Is A Pain In The A$$!

Once I did make it out to the store I discovered what a pain it was to find things to eat. You really have to read those labels carefully! I was amazed and frustrated with the number of things that had dairy, eggs, or some sort of meat based product in it. It was sooo hard to find a box of crackers that didn't have milk. Many of the vegetable soups had beef stock. Bread often had some milk, though the usual 12 grain bread I liked was ok, thank goodness! Shopping is much easier if you stay away from processed foods and focus on natural ones. Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and the like. I also found that a lot of the foods in the Asian section were ok too.

Withdrawal Is A Cruel Mistress!

I have had awful headaches for days now! Apparently, as best as I can figure, it's my body detoxing. Or so the Internets have told me. Or it's a tumor. Mind you I feel fine right now, so maybe I'm over the worse of it. Also I am always hungry! I eat around six times a day. Regular meals with snacks in between. If I don't I get super grouchy. You wouldn't like me when I'm grouchy. You must feed the beast! (PS if anyone calls me a beast they will pay dearly!) I assumed I wasn't getting enough calories and/or protein. Which brings me to my next revelation.

Stay Away From Imitation "Regular" Food!

I thought I would make a stir fry for dinner one night and through in vegan chicken. I don't know what the heck is in there, but it's foul! Ha, did you catch that? Fake chicken being "foul"? Sorry. Honestly, if you can't eat meat don't eat imitation meat. It just doesn't taste good and there are plenty of other foods that do. It tasted the way cat food smells. Of course I'm sure there are some people who can pull off miracles, but I'm not one of them.

Things I've Discovered So Far:

I like soy milk. There I said it.
Cashews are the food of the gods
Weekly menus are essential
I'm a better cook than I thought
Life would be easier if there was a vegan grocery store
Make extra everything and freeze it so you're never left stranded wondering what to eat.
Don't freeze salad (I didn't actually do this btw)

So we're on to Week Two now...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Our Downtown Adventure

This past Sunday I decided to take Miss. A on a little adventure downtown. She spends all her time in the 'burbs, so I thought it would be an exciting treat to explore the Big City for the afternoon. After all, due to my poor planning skills, we would be downtown anyways for her soccer and t-ball class. I mixed up the locations, instead of going around the corner, we in fact had to go twenty or so minutes into the city. We decided to keep going because it doesn't hurt to get out of your backyard every once in and while. After class we boarded the bus that would take us to one of the more popular and busy areas of the city. She was very excited because this would be her first bus ride! Not everyone has her enthusiasm for public transportation.

Loving the bus ride and the fact there's no car seat! Living on the edge!

The area of Ottawa we were journeying to is called The Glebe. The main street that runs through it is full of interesting shops and places to eat. It was bustling with people of all kinds enjoying the cool but sunny weather. Our main excuse for traveling there was to check out Vegfest, a local Vegetarian/Vegan Festival held by the National Capital Vegetarian Association. We're not vegetarian or vegan, but hey, good food is good food. Also we had been trying to eat more health consciously, so this might be a good resource for new menu ideas. Plus I heard that vegan cupcakes had zero calories. I haven't verified that, but it has an air of truthiness about it, and that's good enough for me.

One of Auntie Loo's delicious vegan cupcakes.
We arrived at lunchtime so it was super busy! The line to get in was very long. I guess everyone was looking to fill up on free samples. Great minds think alike, I guess. We decided to adjourn into the next building were a guest speaker was about to start. I sat down at the back, gave Miss. A some water and snacks, and hoped that she would sit still for a decent length of time. Three minutes in she was shuffling and squirming. Four minutes in she asked about half a dozen questions within a breaths time. Five minutes in she loudly proclaimed her need for ice cream. Ah well, it was worth a try anyways!

Everyone sat outside to talk and eat together. This is only a fraction of the people outside.

The line had shrunk quite a bit while we were making a nuisance of ourselves, so it wasn't long before we had made it into the community centre. It was wall to wall people! Poor little girl didn't get an opportunity to see much at first. We made our way to the back and looked at some interesting non-food related tables. She loved the hand made jewelry and tried on nearly every bracelet the woman had on display. Eventually we made it to some of the tables hosting local restaurants and caterers. Miss. A  of course tried all the cookies and treats and thoroughly enjoyed them. We bought two cupcakes, one for each of us, and I also bought some carrot and ginger soup. We took our food outside to enjoy in the sun with the rest of the crowd.

She made many new friends that day. (friends not pictured lol)

There was a fenced in park that belonged to a co-operative daycare where a number of kids were playing. Miss. A got to know the locals while I enjoyed my soup on a bench near by and watched. There were lots of kids of all ages that attended the festival. That being said, it really wasn't an event that had children or families in mind. Sure there were some people who painted faces and made balloon animals, but they were hidden in a corner and absent when I twice went looking for them. I feel the organizers missed a real opportunity to promote their cause to a wider segment of society. Promoting change in an individual is one thing. However once that person is part of a family you need to make it appealing to everyone as a whole. Though I'm sure it's not impossible, I imagine it's much more difficult for one family member to be vegitarian or vegan, while the others are not. It would certainly factor into the decision process if one considered making a change to their own diet or lifestyle. That being said, all the families that did attend were happy and having fun in their own way. I didn't see one fussy short person or temper tantrum. Just a lot of happy people, big and small, enjoying the day and each others company. Miss. A didn't want to leave! She was having so much fun with a special friend she met at the park. They promised each other they would meet again the same time next year. Sooo dramtic!

Alice wanted to say good-bye to the cow, and somehow I got roped into a group shot.

After we said our good-byes it was back to the bus! I think it was a great day out and it was nice to spend some one on one time with Miss. A. We'll have to bring her little sister along in a few weeks to check out the Tulip Festival. I promise there will be ice cream at that one.