Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Update and funny story

I am proud to say that Craig and I are still going strong with our meat-free diet! We are talking about someday making the leap to vegan, but right now we are rocking out without meat in our diets! I have given up cow's milk completely and only eat cheese on occasion.When I told my mom of course she said I was "nuts" but after talking to her about the reasons, she seemed to understand better. We were in NJ for 10 days last week and one day she said she "felt sorry for us" that we weren't having what she grilled. We bought our own veggie burgers (splurged on the expensive Amy's brand which were yummy!) and I explained to her that my meal was just as enjoyable. I also pointed out that we were able to enjoy all the other things she prepared (salads, vegetables, etc) and that made her feel better.

Funny story - one day she was lost on what to make. She did not want us to cook a vegetarian dinner (I think she was afraid my Dad wouldnt like it) so I suggested she could make lasagna. As we were about to eat it, she had a very worried look. I asked her what was wrong and she said that she accidently used meat sauce in it. Neither Craig or I made a big deal - she was obviously trying...and she seemed genuinely upset that she messed up - so we both enjoyed her food thoroughly. In my mind I thanked and apologized to the poor cow and moved on. Neither of us got sick, thankfully...but that was the only time where we didn't make a big deal about it.

After every meal Craig and I eat together, I say something like "Honey - no creatures were hurt in this meal!!" and we smile at each other with pride. It sure feels good to eat with compassion!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Planning meals: I really need to start planning out weekly meals so that I don't feel so stressed the day of...and so I dont find myself eating chickpeas 3 days in a row. I started a list of ideas of meals to eat that I can pull from each week. hopefully that helps a bit.

Things I have learned about eating the past few weeks:

Hummus: Its a wonderful thing to put on sandwiches for lunch but I have to be careful - this stuff is TOO good once I start using it as a dipping snack. Sure, its healthy, but too much of a good thing could be bad, so I have to try to cool it with the hummus - plus I dont want to get tired of it. I NEED it for when I go out to places that dont have many options. I need to make sure I enjoy it and it doenst become an everyday borning food like turkey sandwiches had become.

Fish:Its time to say goodbye. I thought I could do it. We went out for sushi and I just felt....well...bad. There are vegetarian sushi options so I can still enjoy the atmopsphere and edamame and stuff :)

Lunches: I have really fallen in love with hummous and tomato sandwiches. Cynthia said I'd find my "new turkey sandwich" and I think I just did! I need to remember to mix it up a bit though

Snacking: I need to be careful here. Its too easy to reach for almonds with the excuse of "oh, I need my protein" - I am getting enough protein in my meals - if not I can make a lowfat shake...Veggies and Fruits have to be my main snack - and TEA after dinner

Going out to restaurants:Be careful about too much hummous again. Also, when drinking, do not rely only on salad to be a filling meal. I have to eat some bread somehow in this situation.
As far as pastas I need to watch my portions.

Planning meals: I think I need to start planning meals a week in advance - not only to make sure I am not eating TOO MANY BEANS but to also make sure I get some variety in there. its tough not having chicken as the staple for every lowfat protein option, but I also need to remember to start using the cookbooks more and try new things. remember how amazing the quinoa stuffed peppers are? woo!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goodbye Turkey Sandwiches...
Today is the day I said goodbye to my daily lunch - turkey sandwiches. I have to admit, I felt a little bit sad / scared when I had my last sandwich. What will I eat for lunch? Ive had turkey sandwiches for as long as I can remember. Seriously, its been my everyday lunch for a LONG TIME.
I need to remember the badly they are smart and cute they are.
I need to LEARN about other lunches and be adventurous and TRY different things. A friend put it best when she said "You will find something else to be your new turkey sandwich."

Today its a peanut butter and banana sandwich. That can be my go-to lunch when I am in a hurry, but I need to find other ideas so I am not having peanut butter everyday. I used to not even be able to keep peanut butter in the house because I would eat it when I was stressed/bored/ etc...I'd stick the spoon in and go to town. So the fact that I have it in the house right now is a big deal. I have to show control with it.

This may be the most challenging part of my journey....this and telling my parents that I dont eat meat anymore.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Still doing really welll - and it is exciting that Craig is just as excited as I am! Last night I made eggplant parm - it was super yummy! Even better than chicken parm! I look forward to trying new recipes and living a meat free lifestyle. I am almost done with the sandwich turkey....exciting but a bit scary...lunch is my safety net!

The best thing about making chicken parm last night is that I did not feel like anything was contaminated. Whenever I used to work with chicken I was always fearful of contamination from the raw chicken - the knives, the counters, the sink, the cutting board, etc.....Yesterday I smiled knowing my whole work area was clean!

I really think we can do this!

Friday, May 7, 2010

So far so good. :) I find that the best thing about this is that I am not snacking just for the sake of snacking. I find that I am eating when I am truly hungry, which is something I have always struggled with. Part of it is wanting to get an accurate count of my daily breakdown of carbs,, fat, protein...part of it is wanting to make sure I do not gain weight during the transition. I am trying hard to exercise more, doing what I can do considering my hip and heel. tomorrow I am going back to the gym to try the bike and some arm weights.

I feel very successful with the dinners - tonight I made Masala simmer sauce with garbanzo beans, kidney beans, and peas with some Naan bread and a salad. It was filling and I enjoyed it very much. I would spice it up a bit more maybe with some curry next time. I need to research different spices.
Last night I used the rest of my tofu and just put it in a pan with some Sesame Ginger dressing....yum! Tofu is DEFINITELY a winner for me. I enjoy it BETTER than chicken so thats an easy switcheroo for me!

I look forward to doing lunch once the turkey is done...I have one more package to go. I may start to do a few days of veg this week to ease myself into it. Some good ideas are: salad with beans and some Naan bread, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hummus and veggie pitas, tortillas or sandwiches, veggie burger, grilled cheese, cheese and veggie sandwiches. I need to remember that I can ALWAYS do a protein drink as my protein anytime. I got the Aria vanilla protein mix that I only have to put with water....easy peasy mac and squeezy!!

I'm feeling REALLY good about this switch. Really excited and hopeful that Craig and I BOTH can really do this! I am sooo thankful that he is on board and willing to try with me. Its been an exciting adventure with him  :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Last night I bought organic chicken breasts from Whole Foods for Craig to put on salad while I tried the Trader Joes "ChickenLess Strips"
The regular chicken tasted so much better than the chicken we had from Costco - you could really tell a difference in taste quality. I am still waiting from emails back from the farm to see why they are not labled 'certified humane.' They are under the guidelines of the Global Animal Partnership from what I can tell, since thats what WF buys from....but I am still investigating. i am thankful that Craig is trying hard to be on board with not buying meat that we are unsure of. He even suggested that we go to the farm to see what it is really like. What an  amazing guy I have!
The chickenless strips were do-able for me- best I think when in a sauce (like maybe for fajitas, simmer sauce, etc) Craig flat out didnt like them at all. They are pretty bland, but I have always been known to be ok with bland foods.

I also started tracking all my foods on fatsecret to see what my overall fat, carb, protein is for the day....yesterday came out to 19% fat, 60% carb, 20% protein...pretty much textbook good for what I am reading. I am still researching this, though. Craig is VERY concerned about protein for us.

Today we are going to dinner with Elizabeth and Bruce so I look forward to talking more with her. It should not be hard to find something at a Mexican or Italian restaurant to eat.

I find I have been a bit anxious about this all....with a heaviness of "Can we REALLY do this? Is it possible? Will we gain weight?" To calm that a bit, I say to myself,
"One meal at a time, meal at a time"

Monday, May 3, 2010

Yesterday I emailed a friend about how she deals with being a vegetarian and this really helped:
Yes, I am a vegetarian and have been for 18 years. And, you're right, **** is a major carnivore! Cooking for both of us really isn't that difficult. For example, when I make tacos, I make mine with black beans and his with some type of meat, in addition to the beans. Sometimes, we will have vegetarian pasta. Other times, I will make pasta using the same base sauce which I separate into two pans, adding meat to his. I love vegetables so other times I will just eat salad (with protein like nuts, cheese, garbanzo beans) or soup, along with side dishes (usually a green vegetable and a starch). When I do that, I make a steak or chicken for **** to have along with the other items.

I also talked to another friend today. She gave me advice about possibly still eating chicken since a strict veg diet caused weight gain for her (with all the pasta and starch it takes to fill you up.) I am going to take that advice to heart and think about possible ways to still purchase chickens that were treated humanely. (Seems impossible but i will continue my research.) Her advice was very very helpful to give me another angle to look at - the weight gain angle.

Another friend said that people will LOSE weight, though....this is going to be tough. I really do not want to gain any weight the month before summer especially since I am trying to LOSE weight.

Today at Trader Joes I felt like I was a new shopper in there for the first time. Like I was shopping with new eyes. I bought the following things to see if they are tasty or bland:

soy nuggets (like chicken nuggets)
fake chicken strips
black beans and stuff to try to make black bean burgers
tofu (going to grill it tonight while making a chicken breast for craig)

update: I grilled the tofu with bbq sauce and enjoyed it alot. I am just concerned because it has more fat than chicken does....ugh.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I have been reading ALOT these past few weeks about Animal cruelty and it is breaking my heart. It all started with my buying an Oil of Olay lotion and Craig said, "Didnt you know they test on animals?"
Well, the floodgates opened up and I started researching companies that animal test and started to change what products I buy. Its a long process, but in the end it will be worth it, even though it is much more expensive to buy cruelty-free products.

Next, I started to peek at animal cruelty in the food industry. I have always NOT allowed my mind to "go there."

I would always think to myself, "Well, I only eat chicken and turkey and fish for protein....Im not that bad....once in a while I have big deal, right?"

I'd also think, "Eh, its just easier to eat meat. I dont have to deal with answering to anyone at the dinner table (my parents or Craig's parents) and its less of a hassle if we go out to eat." Ive tried to become a vegetarian once in college, and was told I was "nuts" by my parents. Um...ok.

But now, as I am getting older, I realize the only person I need to please is ME. I have now allowed myself to "go there" in my mind by reading articles about what truly happens in the factory farms. Yes, even the chickens and turkeys :( It breaks my heart to know that. I cannot allow myself to watch any videos. I saw FIVE SECONDS of one on (about the conditions at McDonalds chicken farms) and I nearly threw up. Just seeing the poor little guy hanging from his feet with blood splattered on the metal below him - a terrified look on his face was enough to get me started thinking about making the change to vegetarianism. Right now, I am in the education phase. Reading as much as I can, not turning a blind eye anymore. I still am eating meat - hell, I had steak and chicken at breakfast this morning at the Brazilian BBQ we went to for a friend's birthday- but as I eat, I am now THINKING....

Luckily Craig is on board with my interest. Just this morning he joked, "I'd better enjoy this now in case I am going to be vegetarian sometime in the next few weeks." I know he would support what I do. I know he would PROBABLY still want to enjoy a steak dinner sometimes - especially if he is out with friends. So that leads me to what might be 'dumb' questions.....

~How do I deal with living with someone who may still want to eat meat? Do I buy it FOR him but just not eat it myself?

~Is it harder to cook non-meat recipes? Does it take more prep time if I am busy one night?

~Will I also end up cutting out cheese and eggs and milk? I don't think I could do that right away, but maybe gradually once I get used to the no meat thing? What would I drink with my cereal? I've read articles about how Soy milk is bad for you too.

~How do I deal with my parents or Craig's? They ALWAYS have meat at dinners (Xmas, etc)

~Will this be too hard?

So many things to think about. I'm wondering if its possible for an almost 40- year old meat eater to successfully make the switch...I guess we shall see...right now = research time.