Monday, May 4, 2009

If The Scale Is To Be Believed...

...I lost SIX pounds last week. Six! This is the best eating plan EVER!!

I did manage to stay pretty true to the plan last week, and it was surprisingly easy to stick to. I ate vegan meals for breakfast and lunch each day and for supper each night, I managed to keep things under control, so I didn't binge on meat and cheese like I feared I might.

The only times that I slipped up were over the weekend. We went out for custard on Saturday afternoon--I blame that on the beautiful weather. I attended a baby shower on Sunday, and the lunch that they offered was turkey sandwiches, so instead of remaining vegan until suppertime, I made lunch my "meat meal" and ate vegan meals for breakfast and supper.

This week my goal is to add in the other component of this whole plan: Exercise. More on that later...I have a glass of wine to drink now.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Vegan Creamy Corn Soup

Here is a great recipe for a delicious soup that I tried today--the original recipe comes from Rick Bayless' book Mexican Everyday, but I added my own twist to make the recipe completely vegan (so that I could fit it into my food plan). Making the soup is a little time-consuming (especially if you have a fussy infant, like I do) but the results make the effort well worth it. Buen provecho!!

1 large poblano chile
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion (I used a red onion), cut into chunks
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
3 cups corn kernels (I used canned corn that had been drained, but fresh corn cut from the cob can be used, too)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 quart soy milk (if you don't need the recipe to be vegan, feel free to use cow's milk)
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (again, if you don't need the recipe to be vegan, Rick Bayless suggests using chicken or ham, cut into cubes)
Cilantro for garnish

-Roast the poblano chile over an open flame or under a broiler, turning frequently, until the skin on the chile is black and blistered all over. Set aside to cool.

-Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Sautee until golden brown. Remove onion and garlic from saucepan and place them in a food processor or blender. Set the saucepan aside--you'll need it again. Add the corn, cornstarch, and 1 1/2 cups of soy milk to the onion and garlic. Process until the mixture is smooth and all the ingredients are well incorporated.

-Place a medium-mesh strainer over the saucepan and press the puree through the strainer and into the pan. Discard the leftover skins from the corn kernels that remain in the strainer. Simmer the soup on medium heat, whisking it frequently as it heats.

-Rub the blackened skin off the poblano (I run it under water first to speed up the process). Pull the stem off the chile and open the chile to remove the seeds and other bits of skin (again, running the chile under water while doing this helps immensely). Cut the chile into small pieces.

-Add the chile pieces and the zucchini to the soup, along with the remaining 2 1/2 cups of soy milk. Simmer the soup for an additional 10 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve with a cilantro garnish.

Yield: Three to four servings.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Whole Grain Bread Recipe

Here is an EASY recipe for a very tasty whole grain bread that I adapted from one of Mark Bittman's recipes. The bread is truly whole grain in that it doesn't contain any refined white flour and the only sugar that was in the bread came from the dried cranberries that I added (to be completely sugar-free, just use dried fruit that has no sugar added--unfortunately, I couldn't find any at Trader Joe's). I made it over the weekend and had some toasted for breakfast today and it was delicious, even without any toppings at all. Enjoy!!

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting
1 cup dried fruit or chopped nuts (optional--I added dried cranberries and they added some great flavor and sweetness to the bread)

-Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Add 2 cups of water and stir well. The dough should be wet and sticky but not soupy--feel free to add water if needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. The dough is ready when it is dotted with little bubble holes.

-Grease the loaf pan with some of the olive oil. Add the dried fruit or nuts to the dough and use a spatula to fold the fruit or nuts into the dough. Transfer the dough into the loaf pan and even it out with the spatula. Brush the top of the loaf with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle the top of the loaf with the cornmeal. Cover the loaf with a towel and let it stand at room temperature for an hour or so. The dough should increase in size to fill the loaf pan during this time.

-When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread until it turns a golden brown color and is hollow-sounding when tapped--approximately 45 minutes. Let bread cool before removing it from the loaf pan and before slicing.

Yield: 1 loaf

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day One

Today I started my new food plan, and I think it went very well. Here is how I ate today:

Breakfast: Strawberry smoothie, made with apple juice and pineapple juice. Also, a piece of multi-grain bread, toasted, with peanut butter.

Lunch: Organic greens salad with low fat sesame ginger dressing. Small bowl of chips with salsa. Big glass of water.

Mid-afternoon Snack: Dry granola with raisins.

Supper: Pork tenderloin with calypso sauce. Organic greens salad with low fat sesame ginger dressing and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Glass of red wine.

Evening Snack: Leftover cake from Harrison's baptism yesterday.

All in all, it was a good first day. I did manage to stay true to the "vegan till suppertime" rule and honestly, I didn't find myself missing animal products during the day. During supper, I stuck to Bittman's suggestion of having only three ounces of meat, and I made the choice of adding just a pinch of low fat cheese to my salad. I did indulge a bit by having a small slice of that leftover chocolate cake, but in this food plan, it's ok to indulge a little once a day.

So far, so good. I am starting my new eating plan at 160 pounds, and Aaron and I will make a habit of weighing ourselves each Thursday night at the YMCA when we take Grace to swimming class. So, I am not expecting to see much of a change between now and Thursday, but I am hoping to see a drop of a pound or two by next Thursday.

Friday, April 24, 2009

How I Will Do It: Part Time Vegan

I detest diets. I hate counting calories, I hate depriving myself of foods that I love, I hate keeping track of "points". This is why traditional diets don't work for me. I've done Weight Watchers a few times, and I lose a little weight and manage to maintain for a while, but inevitably, the weight creeps back on because I hate keeping track of what I eat. And, sure you can eat whatever you want on Weight Watchers, but you have to watch your portions. Sorry, but if I want a donut, I want the whole thing--I don't want to eat a quarter of it because eating the whole thing will take up my entire day's worth of points.

This is why Bittman's plan appealed to me. You can eat whatever you want to and you can eat how much you want to...for supper. His plan is simple--become a part time vegan. This means no dairy and no animal products before supper. Eat as many plants as possible. Make legumes a big part of life. Also, Bittman omits refined carbs, junk food, and alcohol before supper as well. Eat whole grains instead of refined carbs. Snack on fruit or nuts or olives. Rely on seasonings. Then, at supper time, he eats what he feels like eating. This could mean a big fat steak or a bowl of pasta or some pizza...whatever works. And he lost weight in the process.

This is a plan I can get behind. It's easy...there is no calorie counting or point tracking. All that I need to ensure is that I steer clear the "forbidden foods" until around 6:00pm each day, and luckily, Bittman includes lots of easy and delicious vegan recipes in his book. Then, at supper time, I can have what I want to have. This eliminates the other part of dieting that I hate--feeling deprived. This sounds more like a lifestyle change to me than a "diet".

And a lifestyle change it will be. Aaron has been a part time vegan for a few months now, and it has extended into our family life. Even though Aaron can essentially eat what he wants to for supper, he chooses to apply many of Bittman's suggestions into that meal as well. As a family, we eat leaner meats and whole grains and more plants than ever before. We shop differently. We cook differently. We are planting a garden and we joined a local CSA to ensure that the veggies and fruits keep coming. And, as a result of all this, we eat differently. Aaron has already lost a considerable amount of weight by making these changes, and starting Monday, I will become a part time vegan as well.

How I Got Here

Last year before I found out that I was pregnant with Harrison, I started a diet plan and my goal was to eat wisely, exercise, lose some weight (hopefully), and blog about it. Well, shortly after launching this new plan, I found out that I was pregnant and all thoughts of dieting were tossed out the window and for the next nine months or so, I ate for two. This meant that I ate when I was hungry (which was quite literally all the time) and I ate whatever sounded good to me at the time. This usually meant eating lots of fried foods, Mexican food (when my stomach would tolerate it) and copious amounts of chocolate. And 2% I loved the 2% milk...the creaminess, the thickness of it. I drank it ALL the time.

Somehow, by the grace of God, I only gained 32 pounds during my pregnancy. I credit that partially to the fact that I had a four-year-old at home who never let me sit still, despite the fact that I was supposed to be on modified bed rest. Also, I only stayed pregnant for 36 weeks...had I made it the full 40, I'm sure that number would have been higher.

After I delivered Harrison, I began pumping every two to three hours so that I could feed Harrison breast milk despite his physical inability to breastfeed. One of the wonderful benefits of pumping was that most of those 32 pounds that I had gained during pregnancy melted off effortlessly. In fact, I was still eating as though I was pregnant, perhaps even more, and the weight STILL fell off. This was the best diet plan ever!! I had lost almost 30 pounds before my six week postpartum checkup!

Fast forward six weeks, and I developed mastitis. My milk supply dropped much so that after about a week of trying my best at relactation, I decided to give up the pumping all together. Lo and behold, the dramatic weight loss came to a standstill. What did I expect??

So, now I have to figure out how to lose the remainder of my baby weight and keep it off. And, I have the ultimte goal of getting back to the weight I was at when Aaron and I got married--this means that on top of losing those last five pounds or so left over from pregnancy, I need to lose an additional twenty. For someone who struggles to lose weight, this seems like a pretty daunting challenge for me.

Luckily, I have a plan. While I was still pregnant, Aaron took an interest in changing his eating habits in order to lose some weight, and in the process, he did some research into different eating philosophies and came across one that appealed to him. He started reading some of Mark Bittman's books, and in particular Bittman's book newest book, Food Matters. In this book, Bittman talks in depth about the typical American's eating habits and the overconsumption that runs rampant in our society. He also talks about how our society of overconsumption is damaging to our planet. Then, he offers a plan of "sane eating"--eating wisely while healing the planet at the same time.

Aaron decided to follow Bittman's suggestions and he quickly began seeing results. In fact, I was so inspired by these results (and by Bittman's book) that now that I am no longer pregnant or lactating, I have decided to become a Bittman follower as well. This leads me to this new blog. In my new blog, I will talk about Bittman's suggestions and how I will implement them in my eating strategies. I will outline my new plan to meet my weight loss goal and I will share stories of how Aaron and I are healing our bodies, as well as our planet, together.

The new plan starts Monday. Up next: Bittman's suggestions.