Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meatless month grocery total

The end of the month is in sight which means our meat-free month is coming to an end. 

For the sake of technicalities I should probably mention that we did eat seafood on Friday evenings for dinner. Considering we were doing this for curiosity rather than environmental or animal concerns, I'm quite alright with still calling our month "meatless" within the guidelines of my own definition ;)  

Weigh in results will come on Saturday but as of  this past Sunday, we have the tally to show the effect it had on our grocery bill.

The previous 4 months on SASS Yourself Slim Plan we've found ourselves spending between $360-$425 dollars per month.  2 people. 4 meals a day.   When it comes to groceries, I feel like we're still newbies in the game of shopping.  We're  really not much for coupon clipping but we do our best to keep an eye out for any items we can find on sale.

The tally for this month surprised me enough that I had to recalculate it  4-5 times because I was sure I was making a mistake somewhere. (Math isn't always my best friend).  After running the numbers by Abel for a final time, we both came up with the same tally of $278 in groceries.  For 2 people, 4 meals a day.

Thats a considerable chunk of change that we saved this month! 

Considering the fact that two super omnivores that would have never considered going vegetarian actually went semi-meatless for an entire month and had zero complaints at the end...

Well, thats pretty impressive.   I'm not sure that we'll go entirely meatless again for next month but we have already decided we will continue to incorporate a lot of meatless meals in our menus each week.

Our next feat awaits us Saturday morning as we weigh in for our personal results.  We'll be going out of town for Labor Day weekend but before heading out I will do what I can to hop online and post the results prior to leaving.

Until then, hope you're all having a great week!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This is what happens when I worry there is a garbanzo bean shortage in our apartment:

5 cans and I can guarantee that come Sunday I will be tempted to buy some more...

As we go with our meat-free month we rely on these for our favorite weeknight meals.  Chickpea Satay Pita and the similar Peanut Noodles with Salmon Chickpeas.  Anything that involves peanut butter morning, noon and/or night is top choice in our eyes. 

Even though we do prefer these meals with chicken, I gotta say they are still insanely good with the garbanzos.   It may just be the texture of the chicken that I miss and find works best for the dishes. 

I asked Abel a few days ago to rate on a scale of 1-10 just how much he misses eating meat this month and his answer was around a 5.  Hes ok without it but definitely not about to ditch it entirely...

Me, I think just the idea of giving it up for a month was much more stressful than the actual giving it up.  My rating of missing meat comes in at a 3.  I miss chicken in some of the salads but if I could find a substitute texture for something meaty like chicken then I would probably be ok without much meat at all.   Although I do think I would still indulge in seafoods from time to time...

Last weekend we took a trip to Columbus for a court interpretor class Abel had registered to attend.  While he was in class I had every intention of navigating around the city to see what downtown Columbus had to offer...

well, THAT was the intention anyway...

What I ended up doing instead was snuggling up in the hotel bed watching the Food Network.  We don't have cable back at our apartment and though I don't miss it very much, I do miss the food network.... oh so very much.

I ended up watching episode after episode of The Great Food Truck Race (Season 2) and its there that I saw my next must try....

The vegan girls "Seabirds" were working with jackfruit to sell tacos from their trucks and it took me back to a trip we made to Jungle Jims earlier this year.  We had seen big ol Jackfruits but never knew how to use them or even how to tell when they were ripe so I made a mental note to research it and return to experiment with it..

..only like most of my mental notes, it got cluttered up and lost in the rubble of everything new my head has been trying to contain.

Eventually I had forgotten all about it until those little Seabird chickies shed light back on that memory.  After a LITTLE research I am finding that buying an actual jackfruit would be a bigger pain in the butt to choose and prep than I am willing to invest.  In order to use it as a meat sub it needs to be under ripe enough...

... daunting for a food newbie like me!

I will however keep an eye out for canned or jarred jackfruit already cut and save my efforts.  I will also document here the experience as I have read a mix of positive and negative reviews from people who have prepped their own jackfruit for tacos. 

In the end, I ended up missing the last three episodes of the food truck race but did make it out to enjoy some of the sights in downtown Columbus.   You can find pics of our two day adventure on Abels blog as I believe I've already blabbed on long enough here. 

I will of course make one final note about the trip to Columbus in terms of food.   In keeping in step with the meatless month, my dinner of choice Friday night was perhaps the absolute best meal I've eaten all month at a small restaurant downtown called The Jury Room.   If ever you find yourself in Columbus, Abel and I both highly recommend it! 

My dish of choice:  

Jury Room Shrooms
Tomato, basil, portobella mushrooms, mozzarella atop a bed of zuchhini strips and roasted potatoes.

A dish that surprisingly would be able to be recreated in accordance to the SASS eating plan.  Granted I know these veggies were bathed in butter which made the dish less than stellar  healthwise (but not tastewise;)  I still have every intention on making my own version of this here at home because it was just that good. I know butter tends to make things taste like creamy heaven but if I can get remotely close to recreating this meal without the butter I will be in portobello heaven :0)

Happy Tuesday Bloggers!! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Still going!

Just as I nestle in to start some serious updating to this blog, I recieve an email with three etsy orders that need to be filled.

This now leaves me with only enough time to get a quick update in while I enjoy my breakfast.    

Our original breakfast menu was raspberry pistachio cereal but considering I wanted something that could sit and wait for me as I multitasked instead of turning to a soggy cereal goo, the following is my breakfast of choice:

Its relatively simple, 1 egg with sriracha sauce, whole grain toast with avocado and cajun seasonings.. and to round it all out, a cup of cherries.   Perhaps not the best lighting for the cherries but all in all one of my favorite breakfasts.

If you haven't tried something as simple as avocado toast I definitely recommend it!   (If you're a fan of avocado of course)  Also I would implore that you make cajun seasoning a staple in your pantry just for the sake of this toast... seriously, I am hooked

Between this and Peanut Butter Mulberry Toast, my heart and stomach get conflicted every morning on what they want to eat.  Truth be told, today the mulberry toast was screaming my name until i remembered I had to save the remainder of our peanut butter for tonights dinner instead.  (I can be quite the selfish peanut butter whore, you know..)

It took a few minutes to talk myself into just letting the PB be and saving it, but in the end when I thought about the Chicken Satay Pita we were going to be eating tonight I gladly tossed the jar back in the fridge.   Of course since we are still continuing on our meatless month, we will be replacing the chicken with chickpeas.   Should be fairly interesting!!

Speaking of our meatless month, we are going semi strong -- though if this were a confessional I would have to let you know Abel and I both ate meat this past weekend due to social protocols.   Not that I am making excuses, we simply chose to break our little august vow for a day instead of having people feel like they had to cater to a meatless regimen. 

No biggie.

I will say one thing though, after only 2 weeks of this change I am finding that my body is feeling much "lighter" and there has been a slight decrease in my love handle area.   Its not exactly something I can see with the naked eye but definitely a difference I can feel when I put my hands at my waist (a'la "i'm a little tea-pot" pose)....

Since we are not stepping on the scale until the first of the month I really couldn't tell you if theres any actual pounds lost but I do find my pants have a little more wiggle room in them this month and I am taking that as a WIN... already and its only two weeks in :) 

We are still incorporating our SASS Yourself Slim recipes but instead of using meat we have been subbing in a lot of different beans, some lentils and even a bit of seitan.   For anyone unfamiliar with seitan, its basically a faux meat made up primarly of wheat gluten. Sometimes referred to as "wheat meat"...   

I'm still dabbling with the right recipe to make it, but heres a snapshot of some seitan we prepared for "gyros" last week:

This particular recipe isn't in the SASS book but its one that we are tweaking to fit the 5 piece puzzle and has just a bit more experimenting to undergo before I feel its ready to share. 

The seitan itself was quite interesting... tasty (very tasty) but I am still weirded out by the fact that its texture is very much like a meat only its not meat at all.   Abel was quite taken back by just how much  it actually tasted like gyro meat.  Of course much of that was due to the seasonings but I am finding that the seitan is definitely oh so adaptable depending on what you may want to use it for.

I think "meatballs" may be in the near future for this recipe. 

Last night our meal was Chilled Brown Rice and Vegetable Salad with Brazil Nut Dusted Chicken Seitan.   Another recipe from the SASS Yourself Slim Book (pg 122) and you can see just how well the seitan took to thicker chunks and "breading" with brazil nuts:

Absolutely delicious!  I do promise to come share the final seitan recipe when I finally get it to the proper consistency.  The first time I made it for the gyros I used a recipe online that I suddenly can no longer find again.

This second time I followed a recipe from a recent downloaded book and it is entirely too "wet" for my likings.  For the brazil nut seitan I had to squeeze a ton of the liquid out prior to baking it and Im not sure if that was an err on my part or just the recipe itself. 

Usually when I test recipes I start by cutting them down to 1/2 or 1/4 of the original recipe because its only for "test" purposes and also because there are only two of us eating.  Sometimes my math skills fail me and I'm left with the wrong measurements of ingredients leaving me to go back to the drawing board.

For now I have two servings left in the freezer but once that is gone I will document my next seitan experience step by step to share!! 

I hope all is well for everyone in blog land.  Before I go I would also like to make note we have a new member of the blogging community as Abel has decided to open a blog that coincides with his Flickr interests and groups.  Its not necessarily weightloss nor food related, but lets face it, we all can use a little break from those types of blogs from time to time, right? ;)

 Feel free to follow him over at A Marvelabelous Life.  We promise to be your best friends in exchange for your support ;)

I'll be working behind the scenes on this blog for the majority of Friday morning so please don't give up on us just yet as we are still here and marching forward!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Weigh in Results from July Progress

I'm done asking where these months keep running off to.  

I think the last time I felt like I was caught up on much of anything was back in February.   From there things have been a huge blur and I have to face the facts that I simply need to enjoy the ride and stop trying to keep up on every last thing.  

July results are in.  Abel lost 3 pounds and I lost 2.  

Not exactly our best month but you won't hear us complaining.  

We're still following the SASS eating strategy though there have been a few tweaks made (mainly just cutting the grain from my snack meal) but aside from that this way of eating is becoming second nature to us.  Even with "events" such as the 4th of July, Abels birthday and his coworkers hawaiian luau party last month we were able to keep things in moderation, enjoy some great food, baked goods and still come out on top.  

Sunday afternoon as we were planning our menu for the first week of August I suggested we try to go meatless for the entire month.   Looking back on my suggestion now I almost wish I hadn't blurted it out so enthusiastically because sometimes I forgot how keen Abel is for trying new things.   

(Plus in past years he's given up meat for Lent so the idea isnt entirely new to him)

Me, I've never given up meat for more than a week...

...but it was too late.  He was on board, agreed and so we're doing it.    I'm relying on that same enthusiasm to stay with me all month because if I start having meat withdrawal symptoms and foaming at the mouth it will be nobodys fault but my own. 

Eggs and one fish dinner a week will stay in our rotation this month but the rest will be entirely vegetarian.  Our cupboards will surely be stocked with beans this month and I'll be looking into recipes that involve Seitan and maybe (just maybe)  some Tofu as well. 

Tofu and I have yet to find ourselves on friendly terms but this is as good a time as any to try again.   

Any tofu fans out there please feel free to share your favorite tofu recipe.. i have a few that are "supposedly" guaranteed to turn anyone into a tofu fan but only time will tell if they have any merit in that guarantee....

We'll be reporting in throughout the month on any passes and fails.   Already we are on a good start after our first week of grocery shopping came to a total of $68 spent.  If every weeks tally came in under $75 then I will be one happy camper!  

Wish us luck :0)