Archive for April, 2012


(Failed) Sweet Potato Soup

So … this is the second recipe that I made last Sunday to eat this week … And let me just say that it didn’t exactly come out the way that I envisioned.  Actually, it didn’t really come out like soup at all. My verdict as far as putting it together is that I lack the culinary skill at this time to make soup … Or at least, I lack the culinary skill to make this soup, in any case.

I’m not sure that the above picture looks like much more than some orange goo as far as you’re concerned (again, had no camera, had to use cell phone this week and probably next week) but let me assure you that the texture of this concoction is nothing like soup.  It’s a lot more like mashed potatoes.  Which is really weird if you’re expecting soup, trust me.

And honestly, I don’t know what I did wrong – I followed the instructions exactly as they were, (and by the way, the recipe came from here), and everything went perfectly fine … Until I got to the part where you “simmer until the potatoes are just tender”.  That basically never happened – it took forever, even though my stove was turned down as low as I could possibly get it, and it cooked away any and all liquid so that it turned into this dry sticky lumpy mess …

This is what it looked like after like, a half an hour of cooking, maybe 45 minutes, when I was starting to get bored.  You can see that it is still very obviously cubes of potatoes, mixed in with tomatoes and some other stuff … And at this point I could slice it in half with the wooden spoon – you could hear that crunchy sound that happens when you slice raw vegetables.

So, it clearly wasn’t done at this point – and it wasn’t done after an hour either.  Yeah; eventually I got fed up and took it off the stove, added some almond milk to make it a little soupier, and used the electric mixer to basically smash them up … hence why it seems to be mashed potatoes – but I couldn’t see cooking it for longer than an hour and a half – I had to add in liquid several times because it kept cooking down to nothing and I didn’t want anything to stick to the pan or get really dry …

All in all it was a very frustrating experience, and my sweet potato “soup” doesn’t look anything like the picture from the website that tells me how it’s supposed to look. (see below)

Here it’s pictured from the site with the quiche I made on Sunday as well.  However, I’m not knocking the taste – though I don’t think it yielded as much as it was supposed to, I tasted it when it was finished and it definitely was pretty good – it didn’t taste bad by any means.

I just apparently have some sort of mental block or lack of capability as far as soup is concerned.  Look at how delicious it’s supposed to look – garnished with those little purple Borage flowers; doesn’t it look really good?  I thought it did (hence my attempt at making it) but … Mine didn’t look anywhere near as appetizing as that one did.

I would say maybe next time I’d do something differently, but I’m just sad I wasted four perfectly good little sweet potatoes, so there probably isn’t going to be a next time … As for the mashed potatoes I have now, I’ll probably just eat them with some steamed vegetables or something – like I said, this concoction tastes fine, it’s just not the soup I intended to make …

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Working Up to Working Out …

No fun pictures today; I just wanted to give an update on my work out aspirations, and tell you how they’ve changed.  This should be a fairly short post, but we all know how I like to write, (and ramble …), so that probably won’t be the case.

Alright; so my plan has always  been to take it slowly and work out in ten minute intervals twice a day every other day during the week.  Basically, a 10 minute bike ride before work, and a 10 minute bike ride after work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.   And Monday that went alright; rode my bike before I took my morning shower, and then after I got home and ate, rode my bike the same amount after I finished writing my blog post.

Guess how I felt Tuesday?

Now, I’ve worked out before – I know what that sort of uncomfortable burning sensation you get in the body parts you worked the day or two afterwards feels like.  All in all, it doesn’t actually feel bad, just tender – a little sore, but that is just evidence that you did the work.  Yeah, well, when I went on that bicycle ride this morning, my legs were screaming; I thought the neighborhood watch was going to call the cops or something.

But seriously; I almost couldn’t finish the ride this morning – it was actually painful.

So, I decided that it was too much; I am so far out of shape that I can’t do 20 minutes of exercise a day yet.  Notice that I used the conditional “yet” – I will get there.  I am just cutting it down to biking once a day in the morning for 10 minutes, and seeing how that goes for the rest of this week.

And, before anyone says anything, yes, I’m super out of shape – but when I bike, I don’t let the wheels “cycle” either, unless I absolutely can’t pedal; I treat it like an exercise bike, and I pretend that if I don’t constantly pedal, it will stop moving.  So, when I say 20 minutes of constant cardiovascular exercise, I mean 20 full minutes of my throat feeling raw and my lungs attempting to escape my chest while my legs attempt to fall off.

I have even clocked how far I ride my bicycle with the odometer on my car – it takes me 10 minutes to ride 1.8 miles.  So I average about 10mph on my bicycle, which I don’t think is bad.  Especially since it keeps my heart rate up constantly while I’m doing it.

The moral of this story is, if you’re starting out exercising, please don’t feel like you need to do EVERYTHING in the first week or else you’re going to fail.  Take it in small steps – and, like me, if you feel like your body is telling you you’re doing to much, tone it down.  The fat’s not going anywhere (unfortunately xD); it will wait for you to work it off.  You don’t have to get rid of all of it RIGHT NOW.

That being said, my rice and steamed vegetables just finished, so I’m going to go eat. 🙂

EDIT: Ok; so I lied – one picture.  This is my dinner – steamed brown rice and mixed veggies, with sesame seeds for protein! ^-^ It’s really good – once again, pixelated cell phone picture – I really need to find my camera …

SO DELICIOUS :0

So, this is going to be a really quick review, because I have discovered something AMAZING … And the name definitely says it all!

Alright; one of the things I really, reallywas going to miss when deciding to go vegan was Greek yogurt.  Before college I had never even heard about it, and then, after about sophomore year, I realized that I hadn’t been living the past … 20-odd years or so, because it was the most magical thing since magic …  And now, becoming a vegan, I had to forfeit it … Yeah – WRONG.

I discovered this little diva (I can’t believe I just used that word to describe food …) in the natural foods section of my local Wegman’s, and I sort of just bought a couple on a whim because they were on sale and I thought, why not?  I bought one of each flavor that they had in my supermarket, which was Strawberry, Vanilla, and Plain.

Well, the only real drawback to this deliciousness I have found is the packaging – the first two that I opened, strawberry and vanilla, there were small holes or something around the edge where the plastic had cracked in my fridge against the foil covering the top, and some stuff that was definitely not supposed to be found in yogurt was growing in it … Advised by a friend, I threw each one out because apparently the little fuzzy green disk growing in it would most likely kill me even if I removed it from the container and/or just ate around it.

Disgusting, I know.

However, the third time must be the charm in this case, because this yogurt managed to survive my refrigerator and made it all the way to work with me today.  Weird green fungus free, I might add.  And can I just tell you … it was perfect; exactly how I remember plain Greek yogurt – from the thick, almost creamy consistency, to the slightly tart flavor, it was …

It was like heaven and two and a half rooms.

Seriously.

Again, these pictures (the first one at the top of this post and the one you’ll see if you look down a little) were taken with my cell phone because I was at work, so they aren’t excellent quality, but I’m trying to show you the consistency here so you get an idea of how amazing it is.

I dunno how well you can see it, but it’s got that thick, creamy consistency of Greek yogurt, it stirs up perfectly, it’s as smooth as a dream … I can’t praise this stuff enough.

It’s made of a coconut milk culture, apparently – and their website is informative.  If you want more information about flavors, nutrition information, and some free coupons to print, click on this link.

Now, I can’t vouch for the other flavors, as the packaging failed me twice and I wasn’t able to taste them, but I suppose that’s just as well – I never had ‘flavored’ Greek yogurt before; usually I just have plain Greek yogurt, and I add fruit and/or honey to it.  Today I brought the mandarin oranges left over from my Delicious Salad of Deliciousness, and they went nicely with it.  I imagine that flavored Greek yogurt wouldn’t be weird, but it probably wouldn’t have left the impression on me that the plain did …

I can’t stress enough how excellent this yogurt was; I just wish they sold it in larger sizes – I’d eat it all the time! (Though, with 45g of fat per serving, maybe it’s a good thing they don’t sell giant vats of it … ^^;;)

So, I had some of that vegan quiche I made last night for breakfast today. Verdict?  It was alright; I had to heat it in the microwave because I got up a little late – it probably would have been better if I’d done it in the oven like I’d originally planned … But it was pretty good; it had a weird consistency (I’m still trying to get used to the texture of soy/soy products) and, as with all quiche, I had to add ketchup to get the full effect … I think if I make it again I’ll be less stingy with the onion, and maybe add two of them, and tomorrow I might top it with some of the vegan cheddar cheese I have … All in all, though it didn’t live up to Caz standards, it was still tasty; I’d make it again some time I think.

Today was also the day that I started my new calorie counting diet and exercise, so I got up this morning, ate breakfast, and went out in the freezing slush-rain, and rode my bicycle.  It was my plan to start out small; I was originally going to bike for half an hour in the mornings, but I saw several websites that said you should try to take it slowly when you first start exercising – break it up into two or three intervals at 10-15 minutes a piece for a while until you build up the endurance to ride for longer.  I figured I could ride twice a day if I wanted to, but I really just assumed that I would have no problem riding 15 minutes, and anticipated just continuing on for another 15 to get it over with in the morning.

I have never been so WRONG in all my life.

I rode my bicycle for 11 minutes this morning and I thought my legs were going to fall off.  Or somehow forcibly remove themselves from my body – I dunno. Either way I thought I was going to die or never walk again.  So … there’s that.

Looks like I’m going to have to take it slow – 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes in the afternoon, and escalate it from there.  I also did 10 minutes of yoga after my near death experience, which helped me feel like my throat and lungs were no longer on fire.  So that was a plus; I’ll try to continue doing that as well to sort of offset the 10 minute cardio work out … I had no idea I was this out of shape.

The other thing I started today, as I mentioned, was my calorie counting diet – according to this website, in order for me to lose about 100lbs in a year (that’s roughly 2lbs/wk for 52weeks) I need to start this week eating 1257 calories/day.  So far I’ve had about 950, after having a slice of quiche for breakfast, an apple as a snack this morning, and a pretty good sized salad for lunch.  It’s about 5:30 now, and I’m still not hungry for my last 300ish calories, but I am sure I will be – I still have another 10 minute bike ride to go on.

Doesn’t it look good?  It’s pictured here with an Italian Dressing that I made up from a Good Seasons Italian Dressing packet, but instead of adding oil to the water and vinegar mixture, I added the juice from one can of mandarin oranges.  And let me tell you, with half the projected calories (160 vs. 90), it tastes pretty delicious.  For the salad, this is what I used:

1/4cup Kale, pulled off the leaf so only the curly parts are left

1/4cup collared greens, sliced

1/2cup baby spinach leaves with the stems removed

1/2cup fresh mixed lettuce, roughly chopped

1/2 can mandarin oranges

Sliced strawberries

1/4cup toasted pecans

Sliced mini red, orange, and yellow bell (sweet) peppers

Here’s a close up of what the salad looked like; sorry for the picture quality – I had to take these in the evening (since I made this for my lunch the night before) and with my cell phone because for some reason I couldn’t find my camera.

As you can see, my pecans are a little well done – that’s what I get for putting this together while my quiche was in the oven; I forgot about taking the pecans off the heat in lieu of taking the quiche out of the oven before it burned …

Oh well; this salad was still really good, and choc full of nutrients.  Want another Fun Fact/Tip?

Collared Greens, ounce for ounce, have more calcium in them than milk.

So, if you get the chance, definitely check them out!  They’re a little tough in a salad, which is why I only added a quarter of a cup and carefully sliced/shredded them, but they added a little more interesting texture, something between cabbage and lettuce, and it wasn’t bad in small quantities.

Alright; that’s all for now – I’m going to take a quick hour power nap and then get on the bicycle – and this time, I’m ready for the sleet!  I bought a really cute rain jacket from Target on my way home from work! 🙂

I apologize for the not so great quality of the pictures in this post; I couldn’t find my actual camera, so I had to take them with my phone, and this was at night, since that’s when I cook on Sundays …

Alright; so Sundays are my day to cook for the week; however, this is a weekend-long process.   Friday I find my recipe and decide what ingredients I need to purchase.  Saturday morning I go to the local public market in the city and  get the ingredients I want – anything I don’t get there, I head to the grocery store to stock up on afterwards.  And then, Sunday evening around dinner time is when I put everything together so that I have food for breakfast/lunch for the rest of the week, so that I don’t have to really think about food in the morning – I can just open the fridge and eat, and then, I can pick up a container and leave on my way to work.  No fuss no muss.

This week, I discovered a recipe for Vegan Quiche – while I was at college at Wellesley, when the Cazenove dining hall was still up and running, the one thing that was always delicious was the quiche.  It was a favorite for all of my friends and I – the quiche.  So when I found the recipe for vegan quiche, I was really excited, and hopefully I managed to recreate something that tastes delicious too.

Here are all the filling ingredients before I finished mixing them together.  Now, I absolutely hate mushrooms … But, I recently learned a fun fact (which, I am sure you will learn, I know many) that made me decide that I really need to hop on the fungal bandwagon … Which sounds totally appetizing, I know.

Fun Fact/Tip:

A mushroom is a lot like human skin cells when exposed to sunlight; they produce vitamin D the same way our skin does.  So, if you put your mushrooms in the sunlight for an hour or so before cooking them, they will add some Vitamin D to whatever dish you’re preparing with them.

Pretty cool, huh?

So, I decided I had to add some mushrooms, even if they aren’t my favorite.  The pasty looking stuff in the bowl underneath them is tofu, turmeric, garlic, onion, rice milk, a little no-chicken chicken stock (xD that’s not an oxymoron), and red/yellow/orange peppers I pulsed in a blender for a little bit.  (It’s a pinkish color because of the red peppers) Also in this mixture, though you can’t see it very well is about a half cup of hemp seeds and a tablespoon or so of Flax Seed Oil.  Yum yum – Omega 3s.  Definitely gotta get those in; I’ve been slacking recently because I haven’t been making smoothies in the morning, which is when I usually add in some Flax Seed Oil to take care of that, so definitely a good thing to add here.

I didn’t take a picture of the crust before I filled it because for whatever reason, it didn’t occur to me – but here it is after I stirred it with my trusty wooden spoon and poured it into the whole-wheat crust I made.   Which was really easy with a little whole wheat flour, some vegan butter (soy continues to completely amaze me  with it’s versatility), and a few tablespoons of cold water.  Which I mixed in properly I might add, one tbsp at a time, in probably the dumbest way possible … But I won’t go into that.  Just wanted to mention that I DID in fact add the cold water correctly; I learned that somehow it actually DOES make a difference if you add a tablespoon of cold water, mix, and add more, as opposed to just pouring 5 or 6 tablespoons of cold water in at once and then stirring at the end from my friend who worked in a bakery while we were in college.  Go figure.  I dunno what the difference is, but I DID IT RIGHT!

The recipe I was following said to put this guy in a 380 degree oven for 45 minutes and check it – it’s done when the center is firm.  It also cautioned to check the quiche at half an hour and in intervals from then on in order to make sure it didn’t burn, because cook time varies between ovens.  Well, my oven must be slow or something, because not only was it squishy at 30 minutes, and 45 minutes, but I had to leave it in the oven for another fifteen minutes – this baby wasn’t done for an entire hour.  And I kept neurotically checking it every five minutes to be sure it wasn’t burning or becoming ruined due to negligence.  Honestly, I’m not 100% certain it’s really cooked either – I took it out after the hour because I was afraid I was going to burn it, and the cake tester I was using came out clean, even though the middle was still sort of … malleable.

Oh well; I’ll know when I cut a slice for breakfast whether or not it needs to be baked longer, and if it does I’ll heat up the oven and cook it for a little while longer.  However, for a first attempt at a quiche, let alone a vegan one, I think it came out pretty well – it looks good and smelled good while it was baking.

I took into consideration all of the ingredients I used, and looked at the packages and what not – if I cut this into 6 pieces, so I can have it for breakfast all week basically, this quiche comes to about 296 calories per slice, which isn’t too bad I don’t think.

Here is a link to the Tofu Quiche Recipe that I used.

Hope this was helpful to some of you!  I also made a Sweet Potato and Tomato soup today, and an interesting tossed salad with dressing that I’ll post later in the week.  But for right now, I’m going to sleep, since it’s 1am here and I have work tomorrow! 🙂

Counting Calories and Rewards

Alright; lots to cover here, in a short amount of space.  (Well, I guess it’s actually really unlimited, but I have to cut myself off at some point or I’ll just ramble on endlessly …)

Two things I’m concerned with; not only do I need to exercise, and stick to my vegan diet, but I also need to watch my caloric intake.  I was actually surprised with how many not so healthy things I can still eat – I mean, I can’t have that giant ice cream sundae with the fudge and sprinkles on top, but I can have a bag of Doritos and a two-liter of coke and get off scott-free.  So … Alright, I’m going to level with you.  I looked up how many calories I am supposed to eat per day in order to lose weight according to my gender/age/weight/height.

For a female that’s about 5’2″ and weighs 212lbs, that’s 1696 calories.  Per day.  Except Wednesday and Saturday; then I have to eat 2036 and 1866 calories respectively.

Holy crap, that’s a lot.

I jotted down what I remembered eating yesterday just to compare what I was eating to what I actually am supposed to eat, and I only had just a little over 1300 calories.  Combining all three meals and snacks together By the time I looked that up this afternoon, I had only had 450calories.  That’s it.  450 calories.

My body must think I’m on a starvation diet or something. : /  (Even though I always eat when I’m hungry …)

So I proceeded to eat 700 calories of my home made vegan macaroni and cheese (made with non-dairy soy cheese) with a glass of almond milk for dinner, and that bumped me up to 1200 calories or so … But I still have to eat so much more, and it’s already 7:00pm here … Gahhhhhh … Also, when it got down to the end and I didn’t think I could eat any more, I was sitting at my plate, shoveling the mac n cheese in, thinking to myself “I will loose weight I will loose weight I will loose weight” (Spoiler Alert: I ended up throwing out the last half a cup or so of the macaroni and cheese …)

That just seems so wrong to me … xD

 

After those shenanigans, I started looking around online under “how to start exercising”, and it has given me a few useful pages.  A bunch of them suggest that you treat yourself to something if you manage to keep up your exercise regiment for a week or a month or whatever, and that reward can’t have anything to do with food.  (Which makes excellent sense) Suggestions I saw were going to a spa for a day, going to the movies, planning a girls’ night with your friends, etc.  However, every time I run into this, I see that it always explicitly says, “however, if you do NOT keep up your regiment, you have to refrain from your reward”.

I never really thought about it before, but this makes excellent sense.  I mean, I can say “if I work out for a week, I’ll treat myself to a movie on Friday”, but if by the time Friday rolls around I only exercised once, I can always say “well, I exercised a little … and I really want to see this movie, so …” It basically take the consequence out of it.  Which sort of completely undermines the whole non-food reward system.

So I decided that I’d set a few goals for myself and see how it goes.

If I can keep this up for two weeks, I will get my legs waxed.  Now, I know what you’re thinking – wow, that just sounds like more torture; how is that a reward? And I don’t know – maybe it will be.  But I’ve never had it done before, and I’ve heard you can go three to four weeks between waxes and not need to shave or anything; and that sounds really convenient to me.  So I would give it a try.  If I can do it for another two weeks (which would effectively be exercising and eating my normal calories for a full month), I’d get a pedicure!  I love getting those – my mom has been getting her nails done by the same nail lady for years, and I don’t have acrylics, but I do like getting my feet massaged.

I’ll keep up the waxing unless I decided I can’t handle the pain if I keep exercising and dieting – and I figure if I keep up exercising and dieting for 3 months, I will cough up the money and join a gym.

That’s looking a little down the line though, so we’ll see about that …

Now to get my bicycle fixed so I can start exercising on Monday …

But first, I have to switch my laundry :3

Scales Suck …

Alright; so I started this blog because as of April 10, 2011, I decided to become a vegan. Entirely because of health reasons, which I’ll get into in a different post if people care. xD  Anyway, the decision was because of my body, not so much because of animal activisim, though if I can help some mistreated livestock on the way that’s great too.  So far it has been going good – it was suggested to me about a week after I declared my veganism that I start a blog about it, and I’m not really one for blogging – I have literally no idea what to write here.  I don’t even read other people’s blogs usually – I just look at the pictures and sometimes reviews … But that’s about all.

So, what is the point of all this rambling?

Well, I was inspired to write today because I had my first physical in like, five years.  I remember I had to get one before going into my freshman year of college, and I’ve been to doctors since then, but none of them have done the basic, you know, eye test, hearing test, height, weight …

Well, the weight is where Ihad an issue.  I am overweight – I’ve always been a little overweight, and I’ve always been pretty alright with it because it wasn’t like, a crazy amount; aroud 50-60lbs, which is not good, but it’s not moving into morbidly obese territory.  I also don’t own a scale, so the only time I ever get weighed is at the doctor’s office.  Yeah, well my attitude changed today when the nurse said I weighed almost 100lbs more than I am supposed to for my height.

I nearly fell over.

Oh this will not do.

So, I’ve decided, since I’m starting a new job on Monday that’s only 29hrs/wk, I will have time to do other things, besides writing the novel I’ve been planning for probably forever, I’m going to start exercising.  So I have until Monday to figure out how that all is going to work.

I figured maybe I’d document diet and exercise stuff here, since I really want to do this as well.

Anyway … Yay for first blog post ever – let’s see if I actually post here regularly ^^;;