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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Vegan Week 1, Me 0

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Welcome to Vegan Week! In the interest of adopting a more healthy lifestyle, hubs and I (okay, mostly just me) are kickstarting the new year (ummm....wait.....we had to hold off until all our company left...) with a one-week attempt at eating healthy vegan food only. I've also signed myself up for the Veggie Challenge for this week. This is done through the Toronto Vegetarian Association ( and is something that anyone can sign up for (you guys should try it out! just one week - see how you do. :) You don't have to go vegan either - you can just try to avoid meat for a week. :)

Today is day one, and I'm happy to report that neither of us seems the worse for wear. Despite assurances from family that we would most definitely starve....we're not starving (in fact, hubs discovered that corn chips, bean dip and salsa are all vegan, so he barely had room for dinner).

I started off the day with whole wheat toast, peanut butter and vegetable cocktail. Hubs had eggs (yeah, I know, NOT vegan).

At lunchtime, I whipped up some very yummy bean wraps. We hadn't yet had time to grocery shop, so I was restricted to what I could find around my house...I came up with the following recipe for bean sandwich/wrap filling:

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 T evoo
juice of 1/4 lime
1 t chili powder
1/2 t cumin

I mashed all of this up together, and then put it in a wrap with lettuce, tomato, peppers and salsa....whilst looking longingly at the sour cream and cheddar sitting in my fridge (sadly, dairy is absolutely NOT vegan). These sandwiches were very yummy and I would recommend them to pretty much anyone.

I only wish I could say the same about dinner....I had a great day shopping today - we visited Rainbow Foods for all kinds of veggie delights, and topped our visit off with a trip to the fresh fruit company. I wanted to make sure that our menu for the week would be both varied and interesting, incorporating lots of veggies and protein sources.

One yummy protein source I picked up (and snacked on) today was Yves Cajun Chicken Deli Slices - these are actually great, and stuffed in a sandwich would likely be even better. Two thumbs up from this omnivore.

But yes....back to dinner.....

One of my favourite blogs to peruse is the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen blogs - amazing pictures and super yummy looking recipes. I thought I would kick off my vegan week with the recipe of the week, Shitake, Sweet Potato and Zucchini Foo Yung.

I made a couple of very minor alterations to the recipe, the first being dried porcini mushrooms for the shitake (couldn't get any) and the second being the addition of a bit of maple syrup to the sauce.

The recipe was a teeny bit complicated, but nothing I cooked up the sweet potato, and attempted to mash the tofu. Not sure whether I messed up or not, but my extra firm tofu would NOT mash. It staunchly resisted my most valiant attempts with the potato masher, not even showing a little dent. Yes, ladies and gents....I had my ass kicked by extra-firm tofu. All the more motivation for my weightlifting video tonight...

I gave up and used my food processor to attempt to mash the stubborn tofu. It still ended up with a more cous-cous like texture than I would have imagined.....wondering if maybe firm tofu (or even medium) would end up more mashed and creamy. Anyway, it's what I had so I went with it.

So here's my "batter":
Tofu Sweet Potato Cake 'batter'

The other aspect of the recipe that I found a little odd was the addition of cornstarch to the tofu/sweet potato cakes doesn't end up cooked, so you have that lovely gritty crap-i-undercooked-the-sauce texture that really just didn't do it for me.

I will admit that it looked pretty, and the sauce was very enjoyable.....and I gobbled up the spinach/sauce combination.

Tofu Sweet Potato Cake

Though I admire the crafty use of zucchini (it was pretty much undetectable), I'm not sure if we'll be making this dish again. The texture and flavour just did not appeal to me....I'm not sure if I thought it would be crispy on the outside or what (perhaps using oil to fry instead of cooking spray would alleviate this?), but it just wasn't my cup of tea.

To his credit, hubs actually liked this quite a bit more than I did...and insists that I include here that *he* managed to eat it without saying "I don't know if I can choke the rest of this down." Of course, the man also eats sardines straight out of the can, so keep that in mind when you listen to him.

Ummmmm.....but it looks like I"ll be eating it for a while....

Here are the leftovers:
Tofu Sweet Potato Cakes

So hubs and I now have that to contend with....I kinda wish I'd saved my sweet potato and made our fave sweet potato and kidney bean burritos....

Anyway, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's dinner - red lentil dal, as well as brekkie (almost-vegan cheese (ah yes, the importance of label reading!!!!!!!), vegan 'sausage' patty on a whole wheat english muffin).

The more I read about animal products in food, the more I'm surprised at the seemingly innocuous items that really aren't so innocent (sugar, wine, beer, etc.). Veganism is a lot of work - so much so that only about 5% of all vegetarians consider themselves to be vegans (and even then, there are different levels of veganism). Crazy. I'll be trying a couple more recipes from the Fatfree Vegan blog later this week (both in the crockpot) and I"m sure they will be awesome.

Thank you for reading the first installment of Vegan Week! :) Please feel free to share any tips, encouragement, or general feedback you'd like to offer.....I'm all ears! to get buff.....


Anonymous said...

You're right, the pics look pretty tasty! Hopefully the rest of the week gets better. I don't know if I could ever go vegan (just love my cheese!), but I should try a vegetarian week. Unfortunately I have yet to find tofu at our grocery store, so until then, hubs is in luck. He gets grumpy when I skimp on the meat.

Keep up the good work. Love the blog :)

Anonymous said...

I love my meat and cheese, so I have to give you a lot of credit! Good luck with the rest of vegan week! *THUMBS UP*

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