Friday, January 17, 2014

21 Day Vegan Challenge

Time moves pretty fast. Before I could get into the groove of blogging every day for 21 days; the 21 days are up.

So, Jenni and I are still vegan; the children a little less so. Have we cheated? A little. There are some marginal animal products in granola bars and in some veggie burgers. But other than that I think we did well. I haven't eaten any cheese nor any eggs.

Some of the challenges: fatigue and time management, we don't live in a big city, so fortunately we're not always in our cars, but we are perpetually busy. We live in a small city, 100,000+ so we can pop out and get things when we need to. The problem, running the kids and pets around, working busy jobs and getting various errands done while still cooking and getting some exercise. It's tiring being middle aged and having little kids. On Wednesday I got 4 miles of running in while Harry was at swim team practice. Harry's dinner consisted of a PB&J before practice and a cheese sandwich after. Mine was 2 microwave vegan eggrolls and two beers. I was already tired before I took him and after two beers I was ready for bed....or was it three? I was beat all Thursday. And last night, Thursday night I didn't cook or exercise last night. Instead I uploaded old music tracks from the band into YouTube.

I would say we have done pretty well with our cooking though there aren't as many freshly made meals as I had hoped; veggie sandwiches, apples, bannanas. We had company on Tuesday so the burritos I made were nice and veggie friendly. The scramble I made for breakfast this morning was pretty good, but neither of the boys wanted to eat it. I made a smoothie one evening with mejool dates and ginger. The boys thought it was gross but it tasted like gingerbread to me. We had a pot pie last Sunday with mashed potatoes. So, that was a win.

Jenni has gotten some exercise in; usually the bike, while I'm still relying on running. I had high hopes that I would be doing P90X each night this week, with some swimming and running. With the exception of running Sunday and Wednesday that was a bit of a fail. I ran with the puppy and Jack on Sunday and then lifted and jumped rope. My muscles were nice and tight by Tuesday and really they still hurt. I had a very late night band practice on Sunday leaving me nice and groggy for Monday. So, Monday was a bit of a fail too. It's hard to believe I used to run every night after work to get my excessive energy out of my system.

Anyway, what did we learn? Do we feel better? I think a couple take aways; being on the go all the time, if you don't learn to make things that are easy to put together, you just won't do it. If you don't get enough sleep you'll also find ways of not cooking or exercising. If you are going to walk in and out of the house multiple times a day, some quick-to-hand foods have to be there, but they can't be the whole thing, and they should be healthy if possible. The Oreos, which are a vegan cookie, disappeared very rapidly. (I would be a bit to blame for that.) Crakers, chips, also were all gone by mid week. Not having snacks at work blows, especially if people are bringing in cookies, cakes, and various junk food. I was stuck eating in the cafeteria yesterday between meetings. I hadn't brought any snacks with me, and then I couldn't pop home. I was stuck with tomato soup, which wasn't that great, leaving me ravenous for the rest of the day while everyone else was munching on junk. So, in the end what we learned is; yes, you can be a vegan for 21 days if you put some thought into it. Will you feel better, maybe, maybe not. I feel about the same, my weight is about the same. I feel just about as good as when I started. But I didn't really change anything else about my daily life. I still work too much and at too many things and I sleep very little. I average about 6 hours per night. I sit at a desk for 7 hours a day staring at a screen, and run around doing various errands before and after work. When I'm tired I exercise or force myself to start other projects. When I lay down at night I think about the things I need to do tomorrow and the day after. So, vegan yes, but maybe we should do a 21 day cleanse of Gen Xer lifestyle next.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 12

For day 12 we had pasta with a red sauce I threw together sprinkled with a bit of nutritional yeast. Some corn and apple sauce on the side. It wasn't fancy, but pretty good. We've been getting tomatoes in cartons. They are from Colavita. I don't know; it does seem like they taste better. I ran to the store over lunch yesterday and picked up some fresh fruit and jam. So I had a pb&j for lunch. I skipped the pizza my bandmates were eating last night at our little show and picked up some almonds on the way home. No exercise last night, but I'm hoping to squeeze some in tonight. At least Jenni got in some time on the bike right after work.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Day 9 - 11

Well, the vegan challenge is truly getting tested. What with 2 irritable 9 year olds, a mad puppy, a new job for Jenni and back to work for me. It is now very inconvenient to be a vegan and this is where things go pear shaped for us. Still, I walked right past that sheet cake on 3 this morning. 'Congratulations on 25 years,' be damned!

Jenni made a great Pad Thai on day 6, which was a day off for everyone in Illinois and the greater midwest due to the ridiculous cold we're having. It is all the way up to 12 Fahrenheit today. Woot! But yesterday, Tuesday we'd dropped back to baked potatoes for dinner. I ate the last of the lentil dal I'd made over the weekend at lunch, and now the cupboard is getting bare. There were some angry words from the boys who found their almond milk hot chocolate to be less than they expected yesterday as well. Jack spiked his with several teaspoons of sugar this morning, pity his teacher, but he seemed mollified.

So, it'll be interesting to see how the remainder goes. I'm pretty irritable, unusual though it is for me. I'm not sure if it's because of the cold or the diet. Maybe the lack of exercise. Though I watched P90X yesterday, I didn't find time to actually do it. I didn't run either as the dog was running around making messes. I felt pretty tired last night too.

I picked up some fresh fruit at lunch and some jam to make peanut butter sandwiches. I expect we'll be coasting through the rest of the week on fumes. As per usual.

I am determined to run tonight. It can be done. Then I'm going to do a short set downtown.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Day 6 - 9

It is so cold here today! It is -17 Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -45. Everything is closed down: schools, businesses, mine included, roads. You'd think being shut in a house for three days would've provided more of an impetus to post, but it didn't. Regardless, I think we've done a pretty good job of staying vegan the last few days. There's been a little cheating. Those Christmas chocolates looked pretty tempting, too tempting in fact, not to eat them. And I ate one of the boys' granola bars. Still, as I sit here in our frigid living room contemplating cooking just to warm the kitchen I think we're still fairing pretty well.

Friday - I'd worked through lunch so I was pretty hungry and tired. Nothing unusual about that for a Friday. In my last job I rarely got to take lunch. Someone had the bright idea of using the free hour at lunchtime to schedule meetings and that's become a norm. So when I got home we went ahead and ordered Indian take away from Puran, an Indian restaurant close to our home.

Saturday - Jenni made vegan brownies with black beans out of the Happy Herbivore cookbook and vegan sour creme. The brownies were delicious. We snacked on leftovers for lunch. Jenni went to the store and picked up a few things to get us through the bad weather. Social media was abuzz with frenzied shopping. It was nice out though, 34 degrees. Really the best time to complete your frenzied shopping. I took down the Christmas things decorating the yard and fixed the exercise bike. I made a pizza like the one I posted earlier with leftover dough. I always make two. The second one is always better.

Sunday - I made Red Lentil Dal while watching football. With my leftover Indian gone what else could I do. Plus we had to cancel band rehearsal as many of the streets were becoming impassable and it gave me something to do. Today I'll most likely make Chana Saag. I had downloaded P90X while reading the paper, but I felt a run was in order so I did 4 miles on the treadmill instead. I always do a longer run on Sunday. It gives me a chance to listen to new music and consider things I want to write about. My sister and I are planning a half marathon sometime this year, so I'm going to start upping my miles each week. I did some light lifting as well. Some gentle stretching is in order for today.

Monday - Today - Made some toast for the boys and had some Van's waffles. Sounds like they just cancelled school tomorrow, so we'll be a bunch of "Here's Johnny's" by Wedneday. Hopefully it won't be that bad.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Day 5 - January 2nd

Yesterday started with a bowl of grapenuts, juice and a cup of coffee from the Coffee Hound after I got to work. It is ridiculously cold and snowy here in Bloomington this week with a high of 0 F expected on Monday. I had vegan soup bowl yesterday for lunch, just some udon noodles and miso, but it was warm. Unfortunately it didn't really fill me up for the afternoon. I walked down to the Common Ground health food store about 3 and picked up some bread, coconut butter spread and some nuts. I ate most of the nuts before I left work and ate at least half the bread while I threw together the pizza on the left. I managed to work a quick swim in as well. Since the kids are still out of school this week, the pool at our gym was pretty full, but I got about 10 laps in before I came home. My boys are at my mom's house presumably being spoiled and sledding down the immense hills in the pasture behind her house. They'll be back today. Pizzas are my go to when I don't want to cook and they're always delicious. This one had some artichoke hearts, mushrooms, tomatoes and finished with avocado. I sprinkled a little nutritional yeast on top too.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 4 - January 1st 2014

I woke up feeling a bit under the weather yesterday morning, imagine that? I'd stayed up with Harry to watch the ball drop in New York and had one more glass of whiskey. He had cheese and crackers and I contented myself with some rosemary bread with a bit of olive oil. I really didn't need that last glass of whiskey, but I don't remember it bothering me at the time.

I decided to start the day with a green drink. I used 2 stalks of celery, one lemon, two green apples, two big handfuls of spinach, one cucumber and a dash of salt. I went ahead and had a couple of Van's waffles as well. When my headache didn't subside I made a very large cup of coffee.

In between checking the football games, taking down the tree and watching hockey I decided to make an Ethipian Lentil Soup. It had one of the most complex spicing I've ever attempted. I mixed allspice, cardamon, tumeric, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, papricka and salt to season the lentils, red lentils for this one and I had to make a substitute for the clarified butter that is the usual base for the soup. Mine was an onion/garlic reduction again loaded with spices. The only other ingredients were tomatoes, onions and again, a lot of garlic. I would say it was just okay. The house still smells a bit like Addis Ababa however, which is nice. For dinner we just ate leftovers and snacked on chips while we watched Downton Abbey and Sherlock.

Jenni rode the bike in the evening and I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Round Tower - Inside- Copenhagen Denmark

The boys and I would our way to the top of the Round Tower in Copenhagen in June. Great views of the city from the top.

Day 3 - December 31

New Year's morning. I've seen worse. But I'll post about that tomorrow.

Yesterday was a good day for the challenge, though I drank more scotch than I needed to last night.  Van's waffles and a cup of coffee for breakfast and a green apple for a snack midmorning. There wasn't much happening at work so I was dying for something to snack by lunchtime. I walked down to Sugar Momma's bakery to see if I could get a vegan cupcake but was reminded that was only on Wednesdays. I went home and had a Gardein veggie burger for lunch with some veggie chips. As it was New Year's eve and we didn't have anything plannned for the evening Jenni and I made sloppy Joe's and potato salad for us and the kids. The sloppy Joe's were very tasty, made from red and green lentils, tomato sauce and tomato paste with a bit of maple syrup to add some sweetness. The potato salad was red potatoes and our own version of mayonaise made from tofu. The boys were pretty dubious about the whole thing but they ate some of it, they seemed happier with the giant tin of popcorn they got from their grandparents for Christmas. No exercise yesterday and a bit of a late night.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Boston, MA

Brrr! It was a cold walk along the Fish Pier in Boston. The pubs were great! I love good whiskey and good atmosphere and Boston had that in abundance. They looked at me funny when I asked if they had anything besides fish at the No Name Restaurant, but I did enjoy their french fries. There was a decent Mexican restaurant on the waterfront called Temazcal. It didn't get very good reviews on Yelp, but I liked it. I also enjoyed Salvatore's, an Italian restaurant opposite it. My collegue and I were talking about what it's like to travel as a vegetarian. I told her if I can find something on the menu, I'm usually so hungry I'll eat just about anything. That said, the veggie burger I had at the hotel bar was so disgusting I had them remove it from my bill. 'World's Best Veggie Burger,' it was not.

Day 2 - December 30

Yesterday proved to be a pretty easy day. But I suppose things usually are when you're all revved up and focusing on them. The hard part is when you're living your life focused on other things and it's far less convenient.

I started with a bowl of cereal with almond milk and a piece of toast. I like bread. I really can't imagine not having it; this was a rosemary bread that our local grocery makes. As toast it is out of this world. For lunch I ate the remainder of the mushroom gravy / grain bowl I made Sunday night. In between, my snacks were a banana and an apple. I got a 3 mile run in on the treadmill in the evening while the dog barked at me and made burriotos for Jenni and the boys. I was snacking on veggie chips while I cooked. I love veggie chips. When we were recording last March these were my go to snacks. You spend a lot of time doing nothing in a studio and you always find yourself killing time eating or doing other things to fill the time. We used to smoke a lot back in the old days. Veggie chips and fresh fruit, though maybe not as rock and roll, are a better choice for the 40 year old musican.

My burrito recipe is on the blog somewhere. But burritos are really easy to make vegetarian or vegan, just leave out the cheese. The key to a good burrito is taking time with your beans, also use good beans, black or otherwise; and cook them a long time. I rarely soak beans, but you certainly can. But I tend to use canned Bush's beans. I season mine well: onions and garlic, cilantro, onion power, garlic powder and salt. The remainder of the burritos are what happens to be around. These had chopped heirloom tomato, cilantro and avocado. I used a little Pace salsa too. No one gave us any jarred tomatoes this year, so no fresh salsa for us.