Well… I’m still here!

January 14, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I apologize to anyone who has been checking my blog in the last six months– I’ve definitely been on a hiatus from blogging! The last six months or so have seen a lot of huge changes in my life, and I figured that rather than deleting my blog, I might as well try to start posting again. I had fun when I was blogging regularly, and I want to get back into it and try to improve my blog.

So: what have I been up to? The biggest change in my life is that my husband and I are expecting a baby! This is the most incredible, exciting, wonderful experience of my life; we are so excited and can’t wait to meet our little boy (yes, it’s a boy!!). I am thoroughly enjoying being pregnant– I feel wonderful, and I’m enjoying every minute of it. It’s so exciting to be able to feel the baby kicking inside me– it makes me laugh every time I feel him move! I’m nearing the end of my second trimester right now; the baby is due approximately around May 1st.

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One really unexpected result of being pregnant (and the main reason that I stopped keeping this blog) is that I am no longer vegan, or even vegetarian. Before I got pregnant, I fully expected and planned to stay on a vegan diet the rest of my life, including during pregnancy. I had read everything I could find about being vegan while pregnant, I participated regularly in an online forum for pregnant vegans/vegetarians, and I felt like I had really done my homework as to how to be a healthy pregnant vegan.

What I didn’t anticipate was the strength and unpredictability of my pregnancy cravings. I was able to stay vegan for about a month at the beginning of the pregnancy, but then the uncontrollable cravings kicked in. My first real craving was for fish and cheesecake (in the same meal)! Since then, I’ve been eating fish (and shrimp) about twice a week. One other really strong craving that I had in my first trimester was for fried chicken; I resisted it for about two weeks, and then I had to give in. (After one meal of fried chicken, I had no more cravings for meat.) I decided that this was my body’s way of telling me that I needed more protein.

So, I added eggs back into my diet, and then gradually added dairy products (which I’d resisted other than the cheesecake episode). Adding fish and eggs into my diet went smoothly, but the dairy took a month or two to get used to. I probably could have avoided dairy, but somehow I just felt like it was something I needed, or wanted. When I added eggs/dairy/fish back into my diet, I stopped having strong food cravings; this seems like it’s my body’s way of telling me that I’m getting all the nutrients I need. And, to be honest, I have eaten meat a few times (probably three or four times) throughout my pregnancy also, mainly when I was traveling or visiting relatives and didn’t have access to high-quality non-meat protein such as tofu or beans.

I had a really difficult time at first, accepting the new reality of my food choices. I felt like a traitor, a hypocrite, since I had been so strongly in favor of veganism up until now. I felt very guilty and upset with myself. Finally, though, I made my peace with it– pregnancy simply is unpredictable, and I can’t control what my cravings are going to be. Even though I know it is possible to have a healthy vegan pregnancy, for me in this pregnancy my body was telling me that I needed to eat differently. I finally made my peace with it; my main priority right now is making a healthy baby, and if I eat eggs, dairy products, and fish, that doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person. It’s simply what my body feels like it needs at this stage in my life.

Another change in my life: sadly, in September, our cat Mirabella passed away. She was just over a year old when she suddenly and unexpectedly became really ill. The vet determined that she had FIP, a type of cat virus for which there is no treatment or cure. (She most likely got it from her mother or from another cat when she was in the animal shelter.) It was the most heart-breaking decision of our lives to have her put to sleep, but considering the state of her suffering, and the rapid, violent progression of the virus, we felt it was the only compassionate thing we could do. We miss her so much; we still feel like we are grieving for her. She was only in our lives for about nine months, but she was such a special part of our family. She was an incredibly happy, loving, trusting little cat and we will always miss her.

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Another new thing for me is that I’m going back to school. I’m starting to work on a second master’s degree (my first was in music, this one is in library science). I’m very excited about this, and am really looking forward to it! Classes officially start next week. I will be taking all the courses online, which will be a new type of experience for me. I’m really excited about it!

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to over the last six months! I want to start using this blog to write about food again, but, since I am not currently vegan, I will understand completely if any of you vegan bloggers out there remove me from your blogrolls, etc. I still read many of your wonderful blogs; you all are such great inspirations for making healthy yummy food!

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Fourth of July

July 11, 2008 at 4:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’m finally getting around to posting my 4th of July pictures! I attempted to make a vegan hotdog, based on Susan V’s vegan pepperoni recipe. I changed a few things, to try to make it more hotdog-like; I didn’t use all of the seasonings in the pepperoni recipe, and instead used a mixture of cayenne pepper powder, garlic powder, paprika, and I can’t remember what else. I also mixed ketchup, miso, and water for the liquid ingredients, leaving out the cashew butter, liquid smoke, and agave nectar. I also added pureed firm tofu with the liquid ingredients. My attempt at changing this recipe wasn’t quite successful– I think I didn’t get it quite right. It ended up being kind of tough and chewy, although it did taste pretty good.

I also made a red, white and blue salad for the 4th of July! I got my inspiration from this NY Times article about picnics, and this NY Times article about healthy foods. I used white peaches, orange tomatoes, frozen blueberries, sunflower seeds, and grated raw orange beets. For the dressing I mixed together white wine vinegar, lime juice, a little bit of olive oil, and sugar. It was good!

In other happenings, I’ve discovered spelt! It’s a variety of wheat, as I understand, and it is easy to cook– just boil with water, as you would for rice. It cooks quicker than brown rice does, and it tastes really good– it has a chewy texture and nutty, sweet flavor. I used it in this garbanzo bean salad: garbanzo beans (cooked from dry), spelt, tomato, cucumber, onion, dill, powdered ginger, and olive oil-apple cider vinegar-lime juice dressing, with salt and pepper.

I also used spelt like rice or pasta, topping it with a stroganoff-like dish (mushrooms and rehydrated soy strips).

Finally, here’s my favorite sandwich right now: a mock egg salad sandwich, made by mashing firm tofu with your favorite brand of vegan mayo, dill, and garlic salt.

What a weekend!

May 26, 2008 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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We had a really great Memorial Day weekend! M. and A. were here visiting us, and it was so great to see them! We did a lot of fun touristy stuff, and ate a lot of really great food. The highlight of the whole weekend, in my opinion, was the incredibly delicious meal that A. cooked for us last night. I have to say, for not being vegan himself, A. cooked the most delicious vegan meal I have ever eaten! He started the meal off with a pureed vegetable soup, that included sweet potatoes, beets, onions, potatoes, acorn squash, some balsamic vinegar, oregano, dill, sage, and soy yogurt. The flavor was really intense, smoky, and dramatic, just like the color. It was amazing!!

The main course was lentils topped with Thai green curry-flavored vegetables (carrots, chickpeas, beet greens, beet stems, kale, onion, and 1/2 an apple). It was so filling and satisfying!

That day I also made the No-Bake Chocolate Peanut-Butter Pie from The Joy of Vegan Baking. It turned out great! I topped it with strawberries and chocolate chips.

On Saturday, we went to San Francisco, and ate at The Herbivore. I love that place! We had a great time; the food was excellent (although the service was a bit slow… we waited about 15 minutes for our dessert). I ordered the shawarma, with added potatoes and eggplants. It was delicious; I loved the combination of flavors (hummus, hot sauce, pickles, and tahini). And the salad that came with it was delicious too; the shredded beet was a nice touch.

M. and A. each ordered the Coconut Noodle Soup, and they eached finished the entire bowl! (The portion size is not clear in the picture, but it was a very large serving of soup.)

Scott ordered the Potato-Soy PIe, and he cleaned his plate too!

For dessert, we shared the mudslide vegan ice cream, and a chocolate cupcake. They were both definite winners; the ice cream was really luscious, creamy, and had a wonderful coconut hint that complemented the chocolate.

The chocolate cupcake was great too. The frosting was really rich, and Scott commented that when he was a kid he would only eat the frosting on the cupcakes (discarding the cake). I, however, would scoop off the frosting and only eat the cake!

Finally, one more picture! Scott and I often go to our favorite coffee shop on weekends; they serve wonderful coffee and breakfast panini. I love to get this sandwich: a veggie melt (adapted to be vegan by omitting the cheese and mayo, but adding dijon mustard) with lettuce, tomato, sprouts, onion, and guacamole, on multigrain bread, with a side of fruit. It’s a very healthy lunch (or breakfast)!

So, I had a really great weekend, and enjoyed lots of delicious meals. It was so much fun to be able to share such good meals with such wonderful people; I enjoyed M. and A.’s visit so much; it was great to see them and share some good food with them!

Eating Out

May 24, 2008 at 7:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This week was our anniversary, so we went out for a nice meal! We went to our favorite pasta place, and had a great time. We shared an appetizer– grilled portobello mushrooms with olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette, and garlic.

For my entree, I had gnocchi in a tomato garlic sauce. It was delicious! I love gnocchi, and this sauce had a really intense garlic flavor (which I loved!).

Scott ordered a vegetarian dish, the eggplant parmesan. He really enjoyed it!

And, this weekend, my brother and his partner are here visiting us! It’s the first time I’ve seen them in a long time, so I’m really excited that they’re here! We went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant last night, and had a great time. I had been to this restaurant several times before I became vegetarian (and then vegan), but haven’t been back since, convinced that I wouldn’t be able to eat anything on the menu. I was really glad we went, though, because there were at least two items on the menu that could easily be adapted to be vegan! There was a vegetarian burrito (beans, rice, salsa, avocado, cheese), which could be made vegan by leaving out the cheese. However, I ordered the crispy potato tacos. They came with beans and rice (not cooked in lard; I asked!). The tacos were filled with a potato-salsa mixture, and I requested no cheese/sour cream. They were topped with avocado, tomato, and cabbage. It was really good!

May 19, 2008 at 11:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First of all, thanks very much to Robin of Vegan Planet for giving me an honorable mention in her couscous cake contest!! I feel honored! The other couscous cakes look really amazing, and I can’t wait to try those recipes!

This past week has been kind of busy, and I have eaten out several days in a row. When I first became vegan, I thought that it would be incredibly difficult to eat out, but I’ve learned that it’s easier than I thought– you just have to know where to go. Some places it’s easier than others (I’ve been stuck in some kind of remote places recently where the only good option was a veggie delite sandwich at Subway), but it’s actually pretty easy when you can go to either Chinese, Mexican, Indian, or Thai restuarants. Just make sure to ask for vegetarian beans (and no cheese), and ask the server to hold any fish sauce, butter, or other animal-based ingredient that might be added to veggie dishes.

I’ve gotten used to being vigilant about what I eat, and scouring the menu for appropriate food items. So, I was thrilled this week when, at an Indian restuarant, I found a “Vegan Thali” (large platter) on the menu!! I think this was the first time I’ve ever come across a dish specifically labeled as vegan, in a non-vegan restaurant. I was ecstatic! And, it was incredibly delicious: rice, bread, vegetable dumplings and potato fritters (sorry, I don’t know the correct Indian word!), chickpea curry, broccoli and potatoes, some dipping sauces and chutney. It was so delicious! Of course, the plate was huge, so I had leftovers for lunch the next day.

Scott ordered a vegetarian dish, the Mushroom Vindaloo.

I hope to be able to do more cooking this week. It’s been really hot here in Northern CA, so I’m hoping to buy an ice cream maker and try some recipes for vegan ice cream that I’ve seen on other blogs/forums. So hopefully I’ll have some more recipes and pictures to share later this week!

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