Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Okay, so I've been VERY MIA for the past few months. But here I am now! Yay! I've jumped back into Spark, and really have taken the plunge. I've started doing C25K (W1D3 is tomorrow!), I've gotten a new job where I bring my lunch to work daily and take as many flights of stairs as I can on my way up to he 9th floor (this week I'm up to the 5th floor before taking my breather in the elevator up to the 9th!), I'm living in a sweet apartment with my boyfriend (unfortunately we only have 1 window air conditioner and it's coming time to get another one!), and we (usually he) make our dinners homemade about 99% of the time! :)
There's a lot to update on... And I don't know where to start. So I'll just write and reveal as things come up!
After 3 years, I left the residential high school I was working at. It was time to move on and not be living in a dorm (and on a university meal plan!) anymore! Matt and I got a great apartment on the second floor of a turn-of-the-century house. It's only a 4 minute drive from campus, and a 5 minute walk away from the river I like to run/walk along!
Matt is starting a masters program in the fall (really, in a month or so!) in history. I'm working full-time at the university in a campus office as a secretary. I'm happy to be getting some university student experience since I want to go back to school (hopefully) next fall to get my masters in student affairs. [Applied this past spring for this upcoming fall, but got waitlisted... Don't get me started. After 3 years of residential/student life professioinal work experience, great grades from my undergrad, and tons of experience in college, I'm completely dumbfounded as to why I didn't get in too... :( It was a pretty tough situation. Trust me. But this is a whole different blog entry all together!!] So far, the job's going great! It's definitely a LOT different from what I'm used to (especially the sitting ALL FREAKING DAY), but I'm learning...and I think I'm doing a pretty good job. :)
Thank goodness for Matt. He's been taking care of the apartment, grocery shopping (I'm so jealous!), doing dishes, laundry, and everything else under the sun (almost literally "under the sun" since it's so DAMN hot in our apartment!) so I can take it easy in the evenings. I feel bad sometimes since all I do is sit around all day, but I can't be doing more productive things...but at least I'm bringing home a little bit of bacon (or turkey bacon, which ever suits your fancy! I prefer the real stuff, in moderation of course!!) It's been really easy to adjust from living at the residential high school to living on our own, thankfully! We're really thankful to be cooking for ourselves, thankful for the private space, thankful for the quiet (minus our loud neighbors that think it's absolutely necessary to celebrate the 4th of July from June 28-July 12 at 11pm-1am! Ugh!) Just thankful to be each others' roommate too since we live so well together. It's a great balance.
So, in case you forgot, I tried a 21-day Vegan Kickstart before I totally left Spark for a while. I think that's what got me off of the Spark bandwagon actually. In my last blog entry I talked about how restricted I felt going vegan. That was probably the last day that I stayed on a vegan eating plan...or a "junk food vegan" eating plan was more like it! I felt terrible. I mean, I wouldn't say it was all due to the food I was eating (which, p.s. was pretty much pasta with marinara, french fries, potato chips, and cherry coke) since it was the end of the school year, I was moving on and still didn't have a job lined up, and the end of the school year is stressful and busy as it is. But going vegan was NOT for me, at least when I was on a meal plan. Now, with buying my groceries and cooking it's a lot easier to incorporate more plant-based meals/food (I often eat vegan until dinner actually!), but I have the freedom to be more creative and feel more satisfied. Vegan all the time, is not for me. Usually I'm vegetarian, eating some cheese or butter or cream at dinner. I had a soft-boiled egg last week for breakfast...but eating a straight egg is something I have to wean myself back into I think. I drink Silk Coconut Milk when I have my cereal in the morning. But otherwise, if I'm gonna eat it, it's gonna be the real thing. Butter. Cheese. Cream. Yes. :) Plus, I'm trying to incorporate lean proteins into my diet a bit more. I'm still not going to meet my protein ranges, because I don't eat a LOT of meat. I love beans, so I've been eating a lot more of those...bringing them in my lunches mostly. But Matt and I bought a whole chicken at the farmer's market this weekend and he roasted the whole thing yesterday (in the CROCK POT!) and we planned out our dinners for the week off of it! :) Lunches will be leftovers! :) [Oh, can I just say that my office ordered Chinese today, but I passed and stuck with my awesome lunch. They gave me a fortune cookie that was leftover. I just threw away the cookie and read the fortune and it says: "Your planning will bring rich rewards." Ohhh yeah!]
Also, I started C25K, like I said. I'll finish week 1 tomorrow, and so far so good! Honestly, yesterday I probably shouldn't have run at all...or else gone to the gym (but I really like running outside!) It was about 93 or 94 degrees, but with the humidity the heat index was 106! I was DRIPPING and SOAKED in sweat! But I stuck it out, and only had to walk for a few steps when I was going in a running interval but going uphill...in the 106 degree temps...in the sun...on asphalt! Haha! Luckily I was well-hydrated and then drank about 4 nalgenes of ice water afterward. I only had a small headache compared to my headache from Saturday.
Does anyone else get a headache after working out? I promise I'm well-hydrated, I drink water all day. Yes, I work out at a really high intensity...my target heart rate range is 127-166 and my AVERAGE yesterday was 166 (but in the heat too...) So that could contribute I guess. But when I was doing INSANITY, I didn't get a headache afterward. Last summer when I'd go swimming, I'd get a headache about a half hour to an hour afterward. Same with Saturday's and yesterday's runs... :( Any tips, Sparkfriends?? Maybe it's the time of day? I did INSANITY in the mornings. I swam and have run now in the afternoon/evenings. Hmm...
Anyways, that's where I'm at. Oh, I had to hide the scale. When we first moved in, in the first few weeks I lost 4 pounds, and then gained 6! So I'm to the highest weight that I can ever remember... So I'm making these great changes in my life and probably going to weigh myself after I finish week 2 of C25K. I know that starting a new fitness routine can often cause weight gain as your body adjusts and retains water to recover...so I don't want to get discouraged. Maybe I'll wait 3 weeks...if I can wait that long! I'm already feeling results though. I take the stairs everyday at work. Up 5 flights when I arrive and when I get back from lunch. Also each time I go to the restroom (or most times), I take the elevator down to the first floor, walk up to floor 5, and then take the elevator up to 9 to recover before going back into the office! Haha! I figure I need to take advantage of those stairs since they're RIGHT THERE! :)
Also, I'm surrounded, and I mean SURROUNDED by unhealthy people in my office. Plus, the guy in the office next door just got his cholesterol numbers back and is in really really really bad shape (numbers wise...and fitness too I suppose). And he's in total denial really. I mean he knows they're bad because the ranges say so, but he's more worried about being "yelled at by [his] doctor!" He said he stopped taking his medication for cholesterol because it's apparently "hard on your liver" and I guess he's already got liver issues?? So I told him he could always just cut down on meat and dairy, and he said that there are only a few things that he'll never do in his life (I'm sure it won't be a long life...) and that includes cutting down on red meat and dairy products. Well then! Take your medication! Even though I'm big about not taking medications if you don't need to, if he's going to be so stuck on not changing his eating habits (or his activity level either) he's going to have to make a choice. Meds or...early death I guess.
Honestly, I'm glad to be surrounded by this though. I see these people and hear about their ailments and how they're not making strides to help themselves, and I'm encouraged to NOT be like them. I'm encouraged to be the example in the office. It's a constant reminder of where I DON'T want to be in the next 20-30 years! So it's been great. I hope they make better choices, and we can all be healthier together (even more motivation!), but for now, I'm going to keep watching them and being encouraged that I'm making great choices! :)
Okay, time to go. Time for a delicious dinner! :) Have a good one, Sparkfriends!
Sunday, April 17, 2011
I've been on the vegan journey for 2 weeks now, and I've made some observations. First of all, during the first week, I felt really good clearing my body out of the grossness of what I had gorged myself with before hand. I felt lighter, cleaner, and just more balanced. But as I continued to use my meal plan day in and day out, I began running out of options. Everyday ended up being pasta with marinara, pasta with marinara, pasta with marinara, naked juice, potato chips, french fries, oh did I mention pasta with marinara? Now, don't get me wrong, I love pasta and marinara, but I most definitely prefer my own. But since my meal plan is part of my salary it is stupid to not use it as much as I can and save money on groceries. But even once I did get some groceries, I got bored with eating the same veggies all week long (I really think I'll grow up to be like a Japanese housewife that shops each day for the meals that day...or at least every other day). There were recipes I'd find that would excite me, but they'd have butter in them (no problem! I have really expensive coconut oil to replace it!) or eggs (no problem! I have flaxseeds I can grind up, but they add a bitter, grainy taste that eggs definitely don't add.) or cream (no problem! I have soy milk, but it doesn't thicken the same way, and has a strange after taste. And other nutmilks are very thin.) or cheese (no problem! I'll just leave it out or try this new stuff I found made from soy oil and other random chemicals I can't pronounce!)
Really, this lifestyle is not fitting for me. Matt even mentioned something today that I didn't even realize, but had this been 4 or 5 months ago I would have screamed at myself! My pasta with marinara had gotten so boring and bland that I was excited to find that the fake garlic butter dipping sauce that you can get with breadsticks was actually vegan because it was only made with partially hydrogenated soybean oil (same as cool whip, also vegan!)!!!! I was able to put that on my pasta to add a different flavor finally! Yeah, those are all sarcastic exclamation marks. I had told Matt today that my eating habits had gone from eating whole foods, organic, non-chemical, non-strange-ingredient foods to ANYTHING as long as it doesn't have animal products. I've felt so confined with this vegan eating lifestyle that I have let myself give into other temptations that I would never have considered 4 or 5 months ago. I drink cherry coke probably 4 times a week (if not more) after having not drank pop at all for years (minus maybe 1 time every 2 months or so). I eat junk food like it's my job. I had some raisin bran crunch with vanilla soymilk, an uncrustable, and a vegan pot pie from Amy's today for lunch. I had sworn off uncrustables soooo long ago for the random ingredients and the nutrition facts! But since becoming vegan I've only looked at cholesterol (the indicator that there are animal products) and the bolded allergen notes at the bottom of the ingredients (skipping over the whole ingredients list for the most part) to make sure there's no dairy or milk protein. It's so backwards. It's so so SO not me.
So I want to finish this thing. I want to complete the kickstart so I know that if one day I want to jump back into it again, I know I can! I had some rough days with cravings for creamy pasta or a melty cheesy sandwich. I had gotten advice on some substitutes to help with the cravings. Truly, fake cheese and fake creamer and fake meat and fake anything else not only does NOT taste the same, it is made from random CRAP! Also, nutritional yeast does NOT taste cheesy. I need to go back to my old rule, "If I can't make it myself in my kitchen, then I won't eat it." I can make seitan if I really want, I've seen recipes. But I don't want to. A chunk of wheat gluten just doesn't float my boat. I haven't tried it, because it's expensive, seems like a waste of flour to make it and not just continue making bread, and I don't miss meat enough at all to want to try it.
I commend people for living a vegan lifestyle. Doing this kickstart has truly taught me that it is possible to live without eating animal products. And it's possible to eat well and be satisfied and get all of your nutrients (plus some!) without animal products. But being who I am, knowing how I [love to] cook, and knowing the food that I like to eat (REAL FOOD), I know that I will feel deprived, constricted, and just less free to express myself in the kitchen if I stay a strict vegan. I know the benefits of cutting out animal products, but I also know that it is impossible to do this 100% of the time (with cross contamination and especially with cafeteria-style eating). I have to give myself a break, and I have to let myself LIVE while I eat to live. I know there are somethings that I still will not choose to eat or drink without having A LOT of information on the treatment of the animal(s) and where the food is coming from. And also, I plan to use animal products (mostly just dairy products) as another level of flavor instead of a main component. Cheese cubes as a snack will no longer be the case. I'll probably still stick with dark chocolate almond milk (yum, seriously) to drink if I want a creamy drink. Soymilk will remain in my house for smoothies and sometimes cream in a recipe. Coconut oil really is an awesomely perfect substitute for butter. And as often as I can, just as ANYONE, vegans and non-vegans alike, should, I'll avoid the creamy pastas (mac and cheese and alfredo...mmmm) often, but will allow myself to indulge SPARINGLY.
I hate that I've quit cooking creatively. I've been eating so much salt and sugar-filled junk food that I don't know who I've become! I love pasta. I crave pasta. I could win and eating contest with pasta. But seriously, I need some variety people! It probably doesn't help that I've not had a taste for raw veggies at all lately, so salads have been non-existant. Plus, I can't know what is in the salad dressings in the salad bar, so I'd have to make my own. I can do that. It's not that I'm unable to. It is the hassle, the work, and the missing out on the flavors that I want and expect.
Yes, eating vegan can be tough, it can also be very easy. And a lot of people think that going vegan will instantly make you drop weight until you reach your goal without any other work. Hey, your cholesterol might improve since you're not ingesting any! But there is sooo much junk food out there that is vegan. The vegan label does not mean chemical-free, healthy, low-fat, low-sodium, full of veggies, nothing like that. It is definitely the most cruelty-free way to eat, but you must be sure you're not being cruel to yourself. It's a balance, just as any eating lifestyle is.
I definitely suggest the kickstart. I know it's not for me now, I learned that. From this and other reading I've done, I've learned the benefits of a plant-based diet, benefits for health, animals, and the environment. It's truly been like taking a college course, and I'm thankful for what I've learned about myself in the process.
One week to go. :)
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Omg, I just wanted to say how freaking good I'm feeling this week. Going vegan was such a great choice for me right now. This morning, I really wanted an "everything" bagel that I had had frozen, but thawed for this morning. I decided to toast it and make a sandwich with it. I made homemade pickles the other day, and they were ready today, so I put homemade pickles, sliced tomatoes, black bean hummus (homemade), and kale that I steamed in a bit of water on the stove to make it soft for the sandwich. (I drank the leftover water it steamed in, since when you cook veggies in water you lose a lot of the nutrients in the water...drank them up!) Then I sprinkled a little balsamic vinegar on the bagel, salt and pepper too! Closed it up, sliced it in half, ate half and gave the other half to Matt who gobbled it up! Then a little later when I got a bit hungry again, I knew I needed to use this fresh pineapple I had in my fridge, so I blended it with a touch of water, soymilk, and dried coconut. Gave half to Matt and half to me. Then I made some oatmeal and decided to sweeten it with a bit of maple syrup and some of the pineapple smoothie!! Added some raisins, dried coconut, and walnuts and ate it right up!!! So freaking good and so so filling!
This might be TMI, but I don't care. It's my blog and I'll write what I want! :) I've pooped so much since Monday! In a good way though! I already feel lighter from just having gotten rid of all the crap I'd eaten before that was still in my gut! Did I share yet that I'm not weighing myself until this 21-day kickstart is over? Well, I'm not and I'm excited to see where I'm at. Even if I only lose like 5 pounds, that's still awesome and I know I'll be feeling great!!
I can't wait for consistently warm days so I can have motivation to walk to Starbucks or try to start Couch to 5K again. I want to mooooove more! I gotta move more!
Anyways, that's just an update for you. I'm planning on making up my own stuffed cabbage recipe for tonight! I'm gonna have black beans and wild rice in them...plus probably some kale, just to use it, carrots, celery maybe? And then all of it will be wrapped in cabbage leaves and simmered in a yummy tomato sauce! So pumped! Eee! Yay! :)
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
So, I was going to go grocery shopping tonight during my personal time to stock up on veggies and other neat ingredients I've been reading a lot about. But then it rained, iced, and snowed. I attempted to get in the car, but both doors were iced shut. No luck. So I decided to finish reading my book The Kind Life, order some new books off of Barnes and Nobel's website, and make vegan chocolate chip cookies!
I loved The Kind Life. I wish I lived where I could get the fresh produce that she has so readily available in California (and I wish I could afford it all the time!), but I am happy about the fact that because of my Japanese heritage, I recognize a lot of the ingredients she uses, or at least have had something similar before. :) I'm really interested in vegan cooking, eating, and living now because of this book. That's why I went online to order some more books! I had a groupon for Barnes and Nobel, so I got a good deal on the books (just under 19 bucks for 3 books and shipping!), and I'm really excited about them! One is China Study, which I'd heard about for years, but was never very interested in checking out. I also got The Happy Herbivore, which is a vegan cookbook that even non-vegetarians were giving 5 stars for! And then I got The Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics which sounds similar to The Kind Diet with recipes and explanations, but focuses purely on macrobiotics. I'm so excited for new reading material! Until they come I'll continue reading Wicked when I can and probably crack open my other Michael Pollan book, The Omnivore's Dilemma.
And finally, I made cookies! They're miniature vegan chocolate chip cookies. I adapted it from this recipe ( kitchengrrrls.blogspot.com/2011/02/i
-saw-this-recipe-while-ago-on-recipe.html ), using what I had in my kitchen and changing it to my tastes. :) My recipe is below!
Miniature Vegan (and gluten free!) Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup almond flour (I used a coffee grinder to grind up raw almonds until they were powdery; there may be some clumps.)
1/2 cup oat flour (Coffee grinder again!)
2 Tbsp unsweetened dried coconut flakes
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil (I heated in a small bowl, I heated it slightly over the oven vent while it preheated so the oil would melt a bit.)
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour (or ground almonds), baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together heated coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla. Pour wet mixture into dry and stir until blended. You may have to smear the wet and dry ingredients to fully incorporate, but it will be enough liquid to mix. Trust me! Stir in chocolate chips, but they may not all stick into the dough. The dough may seem a bit crumbly. Drop dough by teaspoons (very small) onto baking sheet, 2 inches apart. They will only grow slightly. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until golden. Be sure not to burn the bottoms of them! Let cool 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Or else, I just let them cool on the baking sheet.
See my recipes for nutrition facts!
I suggest you put away all of these cookies after they are done cooling, and stay out of the kitchen while they cool! They are bite-sized and SO DELICIOUS that you can't help but eat one after another after another. I think I've already had 4... Enjoy though!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I finally received my order from Amazon for The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet. Even though I've already gone vegan and gone back, I'm willing to read this book. Flipping through, some of the recipes look AMAZING, just for their freshness and cleanness! I'll still avoid the ones that call for fake butter, fake meat, fake eggs, and fake cheese... But perhaps I can make my own modifications using the great looking recipes. :)
And who knows, after reading this book maybe I'll go vegan again. We'll see how long it lasts... And I'll let you know how it all goes along the way!
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