After navigating the vegan waters for two weeks now, a new goal has emerged - to find a balance. Relaxing the strict rules of the nutritarian diet did help us keep our sanity, but not everything that is vegan can be considered healthy. Since health and weight loss are still a high priority, I'll need to go easy on the veggie cheese for a while.
I was able to find some organic, vegan convenience foods, but I need to remind myself to use them sparingly, and rely more on fresh vegetables for the bulk of my dietary needs. Even so, one of my freezer staples will always be Amy's frozen foods. All Amy's products are vegetarian, made only with recognizable ingredients that a child can pronounce. Look here for a list of all Amy's brand vegan products. I got hooked with the rice and bean burritos, but my new favorite is the Indian samosa wrap. Quick and delicious.
I also made some progress on the vegan lattes. Starbucks syrups are vegan, making any flavored soy latte allowable during this vegan experiment. After no caffeine for over a week, however, I don't recommend starting with a venti. I was up all night after drinking one at lunchtime. I'm still looking for a vegan coffee creamer alternative for home use (preferably in an Almond Joy flavor). Coffee Mate and International Delight creamers, though labeled non-dairy, do include sodium caseinate, a milk protein, on the list of ingredients, so they're not vegan.
Rob and I did find a couple of options for eating out. We had a great lunch at Evos in Chapel Hill, NC. Unfortunately, it's one of only four current franchise locations and is a bit far to travel for a “burger,” but the restaurant is making great strides in sustainability through it's use of wind energy, Energy Star appliances, CFL lighting, recycled building materials and biodegradable packaging. It offers both vegan and conventional menu items using organic ingredients and airbaking instead of frying. It's definitely worth supporting, and it tastes good, too.
Mellow Mushroom makes a mean pizza with Daiya vegan cheese. Build your own. There are tons of choices. We piled on the veggies and added some pesto tofu. It was filling and (almost) guilt-free. Thai food is always an option too. I was ordering tofu thai dishes before we decided to try eating vegan, so at least some things have remained the same.
And then there's the question of dessert. Before yesterday, we hadn't tried any dessert recipes, sticking to the plan to eat healthy. But, is life without dessert really worth living? VegWeb.com provided a recipe idea for this week's dessert craving, and so we broke out the ice cream machine. Zach's vote was for chocolate, so this is what I came up with:
1 can coconut milk (I used lite, despite the warnings not to, and it came out fine)
1 ½ c. Silk chocolate soy milk
½ c. raw sugar
¼ c. Dr. Fuhrman's cocoa powder
I combined the ingredients with an immersion blender and refrigerated the mixture for a few hours. Then, I poured the mixture into the ice cream machine and blended it for 20 minutes. We ate some right away and it tasted good, although I probably could have used even less sugar since the soy milk was flavored. The rest is in the freezer to solidify. I will certainly experiment more with vegan ice cream when the craving arises again. Next time maybe coconut.
So, after completing week two of the vegan challenge, I am down another 2.5 pounds for a total of nine pounds. Considering how much pizza I had this week and the introduction of dessert, 2.5 pounds seems miraculous. I'll take it. I seem to be finding my way after all.