Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tofu: Round two

Last week Abel and I had the luxury of spending a day off together and decided to give tofu another go.  The tofu scramble we had was a success, so we were pretty optimistic.  

The result of our faux "BLT" looked a little something like this: 

It got a little charred as I probably kept it on the pan too long on one side but quite frankly I found an awesomeness in the charred bits -- mmmm char.

The instructions I used can be found here -- the link should direct you straight to the BLT segment.  As much as I love my cookbooks I always sigh a tiny bit of relief when I know I can actually watch someone go through the process and see how its done. 

This time we made sure we got the right tofu (as opposed to my silken oopsie the week prior).  

Extra Firm but NOT silken extra-firm. Yay!
And if you watch the youtube video I linked to, it made no reference to whether or not that particular tofu she was using was pressed prior to cooking.   

Me, I went ahead and pressed ours and let it sit for a few hours.  I'm not exactly sure how long it needs to be pressed but right after breakfast I set up my tofu pressing items:

(Quite elaborate, I know)
I'm quite certain one book would have been sufficient but I wanted to show that tofu who was boss.  It sat for about 4 hours until our tummies began to whimper with a longing for lunch. 

After pressing it was definitely quite dense.   I cut them as thinly as I could with our sad little knife and into the pan they went. I was a bit worried they weren't quite thin enough but in the end it all worked out just fine. 

The video calls for ten minutes prior to flipping but time escaped me by a few minutes and mine got a little more crisp.  Once flipped, they sat for another 4 minutes and then in went the soy sauce, the nutritional yeast (which I am officially in love with) and liquid smoke. 

Extra charred (oops).   

While I was prepping the main component of the dish, Abel was busy chopping up some sun dried tomato to add to our avocado mash and prepping some kale to pop into the oven. 

End result:

Two thumbs up from each of us. 

The only modifications we would make for this next time would be to cut down on the soy sauce a bit. The strips were a little too salty for us -- oh and a nice crusty ciabatta bread would be absolute heaven.  

Regardless, the slimwiches did the job nicely and after all was said and done (and eaten), our tummies were quite satisfied and our tastebuds rejoiced.  

Tofu scramble: Check!
Tofu BLT: Check!

It's safe to say that our tofu hesitation is slowly turning into an exciting adventure.  Next round of trials will be at the end of the week: 

Friday: A Vegetable Saute w/Pasta in a Mock Cream Sauce (using silken tofu)
Saturday: Pineapple Baked Coconut Tofu adapted from K's Veg Recipe

Even though our month is just about over, I'll continue to write up the experience during the next few weeks and follow up with any after thoughts.  We both plan on staying primarily plant based as the year continues (I say primarily because there will be some exceptions I will get into in another post).  

Hope everyone is having a great week!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Project Plant Based Update

One of my new years resolutions is to start being better prepared and organized.

By the looks of this blog it may not appear as if I've been succeeding but just as any life change it takes time and dedication to make commitments.  Especially for a procrastinator like me.  

The updates of the blog may not be happening but I can assure you that Abel and I are following our plant based month quite well.  The holiday weight gain I seemed to have accumulated (more from stress rather than holidays) is slowly trickling back off and Abel is melting away right before my very eyes.  

So far this month we've tried the following new-to-us items:

Coconut Milk -*my personal favorite 
Almond Milk-* a close second
Oat Milk- *made from Angelas site -- not my favorite of the non dairy milks BUT I like it enough to make it again when I'm out of other milks.  Super easy, super cheap!
Soy yogurt- * not very crazy about and I probably can do without it
Silken Tofu - read on for THAT experience....

I have to admit eliminating the diary has done absolute wonders for me already.  My rosacea is so much more toned down, my skin has never been clearer and though I fear this may be too much information -- my digestive system is finally ... how you say....


Thats qutie a big deal for me as it's been an issue for years.  Not a terrible life altering medical issue, mind you... just something that never seemed to work consistently.  These days things are a little more clockwork and though I'm sure not many people are interested in hearing such a thing, I for one am relieved.  No pun intended.

As for the tofu.... well we're almost at the end of our project month and its taken this long for me to bite the bullet and give tofu another chance.  Everywhere I turn I read the best meal to introduce someone to tofu is a simple tofu scramble.   Considering I introduced myself to tofu last year and nearly gagged at my attempt to make buffalo tofu, I seriously needed a  recipe with a surefire guaranteed satisfaction. 

In defense of the initial tofu I first bought last year, it I had no idea of the differences in textures or that it often times needs to be pressed to get a desired consistency depending on how it is to be prepped.  

Even now I'm in the dark when it comes to all of this as I accidentally bought the wrong tofu for our scramble.  Taking a cue from The Happy Herbivore, I picked up what I thought was extra firm tofu but it ended up being extra firm SILKEN tofu -- which Lindsay says is a no-no for this recipe. 

At the risk of already messing up the ingredients Abel and I decided the mushiness of the tofu may actually be ok considering scrambled eggs are textured similarly. My worst fear was that they would be watery though.  I did come across a few recipes online that actually call for silken tofu in scrambles and though none of them said to press this particular tofu my fear of a watery mess told me to press it anyway.  Just in case.

Due to time constraints though I probably only left it pressing for about 5 minutes as we prepped the rest of our breakfast.  It wasn't just the scramble we were eating, we were putting it into tacos with guacamole and a side of orange wedges --  this was another safety net for me.  Surely the tofu couldn't taste TOO bad paired with tortillas and avocado, correct?  

So we went ahead and followed through with the recipe. We seasoned the tofu, tossed it around the pan a bit and though it did stay a bit of a mushy mess I was quite surprised at the overall look once it was all heated through and ready: 

This is what our scrambled tofu looked like in the pan: 

I realize a pic of them plated as tacos with a side of orange wedges would have probably made more of an appetizing photo, but my stomach was demanding food and we had grocery shopping to do before Abel went into work so there was just no time to get all martha stewart with our plate settings.  So little time, and so little (hunger) patience!

In the end, the meal got 4 thumbs up and we would definitely make it again the next time we're hankering for breakfast tacos.  

Round two with Tofu will come on Wednesday when we make "BLT"s.   Can it be that tofu can make a tasty stand in for Bacon?   We'll be using the recipe from Vegan Mashup  and I promise I'll have better photos to document the experience ;) 

Tofu may just be redeeming itself in my book but it may be too soon to make such a bold prediction.  

I'll have to work on making a time block for myself to update this blog more consistently as the change alone in dropping dairy from my personal diet has made more than enough of an impact for me to continue this experience after the month is up.  

I'll also get a separate post up with Abels feedback and any changes he may be noticing while undergoing this project.  For now I just wanna throw out a quick thanks to those who have offered their advice and suggestions on our initial blog post of this experiment.  And also for sticking around even with the huge lapse of blog updates!!

Changes, they are a'happening!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Wait, did I say VEGAN????

Day 5 of the new year and as Abel and I embark on what I called a "vegan" adventure I realized by Day 2 that we may have bitten off more than we could chew.

I never once stopped to think of checking all of the products in our pantry that I assumed were already naturally vegan. Mainly salsas, marinara and other sauces, not to mention a huge factor like plain sugar.  Clearly I was underestimating how big of a leap the lifestyle change would be. (So much for doing my homework on the matter)

By Wednesday (Jan 2nd) I had worked myself up in a tizzy worrying that we already failed our experiment.

Rather than allow anxieties to build up over whats "right" and "wrong" in our fridge and pantry, I am now more than likely inclined to refer to this plan as more of a transition into plant based eating.

Not that its important to "label" our lifestyle but I do feel its important to pause and rearrange things, to admit we were not prepared if only to say 'hey, this is NOT an easy peasy transition.  And quite frankly, its ok to admit it"

So in terms of where we are going from here we're planning our meals as primarily plant based and for the moment we aren't splitting hairs on whether or not our marinara, salsas or sauces have traces of dairy or sugar in them.  

Aside from that, the only obstacle we are facing is replacing the protein in our breakfasts and snacks.  I'm not a huge fan of soy products or protein powders though we do use a splash of soy milk in our daily cup of joe, its still at minimal use.   In terms of replacing our milk consumption, Abel has found a strong liking to rice milk and its what currently sits in our refrigerator.   Unfortunately the non dairy milks (aside from soy) don't seem to come close to the protein value of dairy milk so we're still going to be looking into other alternatives.

When it comes to lunches and dinners, our bean and veggie intake cover the protein we need wonderfully, its still just the snack and breakfast portions of our days. Considering they are both paired with fruit servings, our protein replacement needs to harmoniously play with fruits.   Tofu and edamame are both options I am aware of but as with soy milk, I'd like to keep that consumption to a minimum.  There are far too many conflicting reports on the benefits of soy consumption so I'm keeping things in a balance.   Well, that and I've never been a fan of edamame and tofu is still a bit daunting.

For now, a side of roasted chickpeas is going to fulfill our protein needs in snacks but if anyone has any other suggestions for snack and breakfast proteins we are all ears.

We're also going to do our best to limit any "faux" store bought meats, primarily because I haven't done much research and am a bit leary of what they consist of and also because of costs.  In the past I've tinkered with seitan recipes and though we love homemade seitan strips for gyros it's still not a product I'd like to use on a regular basis.

Definitely have a  lot more research to do, I probably sound like I'm a little all over the place but that is exactly why we set up this blog in the first place.   To document the trial and error process and learn from it as we babystep our way towards the healthy eating lifestyle.

No shame in this game :)  As I said, any advice, suggestions, comments, sympathy, etc is always welcome!  We'll be updating a little more frequently with the tools we do have to help us along the way.  Books, blogs, spices, resources etc -- anything thats helping us stick to the healthy side of life.

Monday, December 31, 2012

I can do this... right? ;)

Last day of 2012.  Tomorrow begins the vegan adventure.

I've been reading up on the vegan lifestyle since August and I suppose the reason I thought it was going to be easier was because most of our lunches and dinners are already vegan.  What I didn't stop to think was that our breakfasts and snacks revolve heavily around yogurt and eggs.  

Im sure there are great vegan alternatives for yogurt but I'm not willing to pay the steep prices our local grocers tag them with.   Part of our new year regimen includes saving as much cash as possible for the wedding we have yet to set a date for!  At $4+ for a container of soy yogurt, I'm going to have to pass.  Plus I think I would prefer coconut yogurt rather than soy.   

As for the eggs -- well I'm making peace with the fact that I will not die if I don't have that delicious little runny yolk mixed with spicy Sriracha sauce for a month. My little egg with the sriracha drawn heart and avocado toast has become one of my absolute favorite meals....  le sigh... I can do without, seriously I can....   

In my heart of hearts I would love to say this is the beginning of a more permanent switch but as things stand right now I can't imagine myself going hardcore vegan having to bring my own meals to get togethers or "poo-poo" other peoples foods when offered.  

As a recovering binge eater I'm still far too lost to dedicate my lifestyle to a cause other than whats best for me right here and right now.   As for Abel, he's not too worried about it all. (Of course!)  He's so open to changes and is already looking into what Vegan restaurant options we have around here for our 4 year anniversary next month.  

For now I can tell you what materials I've collected in preparations for this little experience.  

The past few days I have been found scouring The Happy Herbivore.  The site as well as her facebook page.  I've had the first two of her books for a while but only dabbled in a few of the recipes.  I've recently gotten her third book and I'm fairly certain the majority of our meals will be coming from her books next month. 

I also have a slew of websites that I follow with vegan and vegetarian options but I'll have to take the time to compile the actual list.  My favorite thus far is Angela from OhSheGlows   As luck would have it, she posted today that she's working on a Vegan How-To series which you can believe I'm going to be watching like a hawk.  

Her Cozy millet bowl w/Mushroom Gravy and Kale is out of this world delicious.  Also today I noticed she has a 10 minute yogurt recipe that may help us not to have to pay ridiculous prices for non dairy yogurt. 

I have a few other options when it comes to vegan books and recipes but that will come once I compile the list and get a chance to play favorites.

As for the book that started this entire lifestyle, Cynthia Sass's Sass Yourself Slim, it goes without saying we are still following it day in and day out.   Without the knowledge that book has provided us we wouldn't be where we are today.   Though this is the end of the year I am waiting on writing an udpated review of the book for the end of March (the 1 year anniversary with SASS).  

This will definitely be an interesting year for Abel and I, and I'm anxious to get it started.  Happy New Year to you guys and your loved ones!!  Farewell 2012!!! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Preparing for 2013, we are still here!

We had no intentions of abandoning this blog of ours, life just took us away for a while and any chance I've had to take a breather has been far too short lived.  Lets face it, the last thing you want to do when you're exhausted and crabby is gather your thoughts on how responsibly (or irresponsibly) your eating has been.

That said, it's been a struggle the last six weeks for me to stay on track.  Mainly because of stress -- there's nothing more "convenient" than working at a bakery when you are in desperate need of comfort.  I accept full responsibility for the last 5 (or so) pounds I have put on since the end of October.  

At least the last I knew about it was a 5 pound gain.  Nothing to mope about nor worthy of shedding tears over at least.

Aside from my sneaking in of too many work cookies, Abel and I have still been following our menu board day in and day out.  I'm getting in all of my veggies and fruits and I can at least be proud to report nothing has changed in that respect.

We're still incorporating the SASS Yourself Slim strategy to our meals and Abel is down at least another 5 pounds from where he was in our last weigh in.  He now stands as my personal role model because even with a few holiday treats here and there he's managed to keep it all fully balanced.   Something that makes me wonder if I'm in denial as to just how lax I've been with my own eating. 

Nevertheless, we have set up a new challenge for ourselves to kick off 2013.   After watching the documentary Vegucated on Netflix a few weeks ago we decided to try going Vegan for the month of January.  

Some of you may recall we went meatless in August  and quite frankly ever since then, I don't think meat of any kind has been i n our grocery cart more than 4 times.  We've fallen in love with beans and chickpeas and even though we both think vegan lifestyle is too extreme for us, the documentary was more than enough to say we'd like to give it a shot. 

I've seen other documentaries before and though I generally feel inspired after each of them, this one managed to hit a little deeper within my core.  Mainly because of the treatment of animals.

I've heard the stories of how the animals go from the farms to our plates.  "Yes animals die, lets all get over it"... that was my particular attitude towards it at least.   Not once did I stop to think how they were treated or how they lived prior to their death sentence though.   Believe you me I am personally not a big fan of animals in the first place (lack of a trust factor) but that doesn't mean I want them to suffer all of their lives for the sake of my breakfast. 

If you haven't already seen it I would definitely recommend it.  I won't go as far as saying its "life changing" but it's definitely interesting.  Most of the documentary involves following three individuals who volunteer for a vegan challenge and seeing what kind of changes going vegan brings their bodies.   Its interesting if nothing else.  

Personally, as affected as I was by the documentary I am not about to tell you its enough to turn me around  overnight vowing to never touch an animal product again but it IS enough for me to accept a 30 day challenge AND do what I can to ween myself away.  The entire concept was Abels idea and he's not certain where it will take him either but I'm sure his newfound "foodie" lifestyle is quite anxious to keep trying new things and thats where his commitment will come from. 

With so many "rules" to who can and cant call themselves vegan it's got me leary enough to even wonder if I can call what we are attempting "veganism" but if I may say, its the attempt and the endeavor that I stand behind, we're not here to earn badges nor entitlements to step on soap boxes.  We're just here doing what we do for reasons of our own.  Its a new chapter, new experience, new findings...  keepint it all positive without the black and white rules that deem us as successes or failures.  

That said, we'll see what January brings and I trust that any readers who may still be out there are having a wonderful holiday season!  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not my best month....

We haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

Life has been (as usual) flying by and as much as I envisioned a big 6-month follow-up since starting the SASS Plan, I haven't had the time to fully get everything together and branch this page out a little more.

Not to mention that this particular month has been the roughest for me personally to stay on track.  Abels been doing fine and dandy.  As for me, the stress of to-do lists are chipping away at my drive.

Stress and anxiety are a pain for everyone but for a recovering binge eater.. well, no need to tell you I am only human and quite flawed.  I dont forecast a weightloss of any kind for this month as these past few weeks have been like a mini warzone inside my psyche but I do need to come clean for the sake of accountability.

I'm pushing past it though and getting my head back in the game.

I think a part of it is that I haven't had the time this past month to gather new recipes and incorporate them into the SASS plan like I did the past few months.  I found a love in tracking down new recipes and I may be throwing a little tantrum because I havent had the time to continue that hobby lately.  Things will slow down if I stop procrastinating on the necessary responsibilities of life and just get them done and out of the way.

I won't be such a stranger when it comes to updating.  My bloggings are just as much a responsibility to me as staying on track with proper eating.  I'm fairly certain that a month from now this will all seem like a small hill I had to overcome rather than the mountain I am making it out to be.

Hope everyone out there is doing well, I have quite a bit to share in terms of how much I'm still loving the SASS plan and foods we're eating lately but I will save that update for a time when I've got a clearer state of mind  and the proper time to devote to it entirely.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Weigh-In Results for our meatless month

So much for updating before leaving town!
Our morning was thrown off by a good hour and some change after we woke up late and hit the road around 6:30 instead of  5 Saturday morning.

We did however get our weigh in done prior to leaving and the results are as follows:

Abel lost 2 pounds in our meatless month and I lost 4.

Considering I have been losing two pounds a month lately my mind was blown by the number doubling.  I haven't done anything different this month than the last few months other than removing meat.

Abels been more lax with eating sweets this month which is why his # didn't smoke mine but considering his indulgences in cannolis and gelato every week, its just as awesome for him to see a loss as well.   He's not so much in it for the numbers on the scale which I SO envy at times.  His focus is always more on how he feels on a day to day basis and paying attention to his bodys signals.  Its the shift in lifestyle that hes noticing rather than the shift in weight.

Personally I am quite oblivious to noting changes in my body.  It isn't until I either see a  photo of myself that I actually see them, or until someone points it out to me.  I'll be working on a separate post for these things along with a mini photo montage of some of our meals from August.

The results are awesome and I'm going to continue trekking forward limiting meat from here on out.

As I am now enjoying the weekend with my family I can tell you that yesterday was quite an interesting day for me.  I have heard of how meat affects people after they have given it up for a while and if I may share my own story I will tell you that after eating a polish sausage and a hamburger patty at a cookout yesterday, i sit here the morning after feeling insanely bloated and gassy.

Of course it could also be because I had the polish on a bun with a side of rice. (Carb overload) and the hamburger (sans bun) with a side of diced potatoes.  It was the first time in months that I ate without even trying to stay within the SASS strategy.   Though I'm not exactly riddled with guilt nor regretting the consumption, I love that I woke up this morning wanting fresh foods and a huge cup of water.  My body is indeed communicating with me.

Let me tell you, after living over 30+ years and never stopping to think stomach aches, headaches, skin flare ups, back aches, weak nails, sinus problems etc etc etc.... were all ways of my body trying to actually TELL me something for so long.. well, it's embarrassing that I am only now willing to listen and am learning how to respond back.

It's fascinating I tell you.

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend.  I'll be working on that post with more details on the noticeable changes later today!