Thursday, May 17, 2012

Making everything "Cheesy"; Giving up Dairy is Easy

I  know, most Americans can't imagine a life without their creamy, casomorphin delivering, comforting substance, Cheese - but it is possible!  Luckily, I was able to make that leap almost a year ago. Now, I am on day 17 of my "Super Vegan Challenge" (Paleo without meat). What is so exciting about any nutritional challenge, is that it can open your mind and taste buds to new foods. In this case, your staple foods prepared in a new way! With the Standard American Diet (SAD) creativity has been stifled by the deep fryer, piling on unhealthy meats, and stuffing with cheese. Food preparation is actually an art, deep frying is so boring and lazy, and actually robs the food source of all its natural flavor and wonderfulness.

I will have to say that with this challenge my cravings for carbs (I think I can live without brown rice) and sugar have subsided and that I have truly been satisfied -unlike other nutritional programs and cleanses that I have done. Typically, I start daydreaming of the end and what the first meal of the foods will be. Vegan pizza, dessert, chips? Thus, wrecking all the work that I have done, and planting seeds of failure. That hasn't happened in this challenge. I am not sure what I will do on day 31. Where I stand today it won't be much different than the previous 30 and maybe I will add a few things back to my diet in moderation. Perhaps, quiona, beans on a occasion, I don't know.... right now, I am enjoying eating COMPLETELY clean, for the first time in my life!

There has been a detoxing and digestive system adjustment  period - I seem to be over the hump!  Thank goodness! When we eat differently our body have to make adjustments and re-balance itself. However, when you are coupling that with new, intense workouts like CrossFit, the effects may be even greater. Be patient. And most importantly, listen to your own body!

Eating in new ways may seem daunting  and a bit overwhelming. When you re-frame it - Isn't it important what fuel you put in your body? Aren't you worth it? Isn't your family worth it? My husband, reminded me this week that not everyone can look at recipes and adapt them to their lifestyle - I get that. It does take a bit of  experimenting and a sense of adventure. FOOD IS FUN! So, how about having as much fun shopping and preparing it as we do eating it?

Recently, a  friend posted a picture on Facebook  of  "Dilly Sunflower Cheese", the recipe can be found on Gena's Choosing Raw Blog.  I was intrigued, having given up my cheese substitutes like Daiya and Toffuti  for the challenge. Since making this recipe, has been a staple in my kitchen. I have adapted the recipe and used it in many ways as it packs a nutritional punch with lots protein and other nutrients like; iron, vitamin E, and all the B vitamins. It is an awesome substitute for cheese! And nutritional yeast, a complete protein with 18 amino acids, adds creaminess and a bit of "cheddar" flavor to any sauce, dip, or dressing. Giving up cheese is one of the best things you can do for yourself and the animals - read more about why here: Why Dairy is Bad for You.

Italian "Cheesy" Spread  - yields 6-8 serving

Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving = 8 servings

Cal: 184   Fat: 15 g   Protein: 8 g

1 cup sunflower seeds soaked at least one hour
2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4-1 tsp sea salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup water depending on desired thickness
6-8 fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
3 Tbsp of Nutritional Yeast
1 tsp of onion powder
8-10 dried tomatoes (I used "Just Tomatoes" they have no added flavor or oil)

1) Place soaked seeds, salt, and lemon into the bowl of a food processor and let it run till they’re broken down.  You will need to scrape the sides of the bowl several times.
2) Pour water slowing into the food processor so that the sunflower seed cheese becomes light and creamy.
3) Add nutritional yeast, basil, tomatoes, and garlic and pulse until combined.

 This is also a great recipe to DOUBLE and keep in the fridge for the week!


  • Stuffed in Grilled Baby Portabella Caps (grill caps with minced garlic inside then stuff with "cheese")
  • Salad Topping 
  • Raw Vegetable Dip
  • Spaghetti Squash Topping with Chives
  • Substitute any herb for Basil

Monday, May 7, 2012

Vegan Paleo Challenge - Recipes Included

On the outside looking in, it could appear as if I have an attention span disorder when it comes to food. It's possible. Constantly, seeking out information about food and nutrition - GUILTY.

As I posted previously, I did investigate and try out the Engine 2 Diet for 28 days, well with several cheat meals. I will still be posting some of the tried recipes and costs in future.  I loved all the recipes that I tried and will still use some of them. It did widened my perspective on reading food labels. I didn't realize that so many foods have added oils. For instance, a bag of just plain ol' soy nuts - added oil. WHY? Well, my theory with added oil, salt, and sugar is it is cheap but it also keeps you coming back for another bag - PROFIT. That is the great thing about whole foods like broccoli, the ingredients? Broccoli.

My diet had taken a change of course for the time being.  My husband and I joined a CrossFit gym about a month ago. Our gym started a strict Paleo Challenge May 1st for 30 days and we couldn't resist! Fellow vegans may immediately scratch their heads. The Paleo-Diet, also referred to as the Cave-Man Diet, prescribes meat. However, I agree with most of the nutrition: VEGETABLES, healthy fats, seeds, nuts, some fruit, and no sugar. In case you didn't know, being vegan and living without grains and beans may be an epic feat - but I am up for the challenge. Most importantly, I want to notice. Notice, my thoughts around not having those foods, notice my energy level, notice any differences in my composition or functioning, etc.  And we'll see if it will be a lifestyle change.

Of course, in my research for ideas on foods, recipes, and inspiration, I have found that other vegans are attempting this lifestyle as well. However, many are still incorporating some soy and grains. Why? It seems to be for the protein. Which I find very interesting. As a vegan have we not changed our own thinking around the protein issue? Do we need grains and soy for protein? I don't think so. I am tracking what I eat daily on LIVESTRONG. It's not necessary for the challenge or for the Paleo Diet. However, I was curious. Curious, to how much fat, protein, carbs, and sugars I am taking in on the challenge. Everyday for the last 8 days I have exceeded my daily recommended protein amount - just like every other American. Even without meat, soy, legumes, or grains. 

As I continue to take on this challenge, per request, I will post recipes and the approximate nutritional information according to LIVESTRONG - for the purposes of the grams of protein.

Coconut Lime Curried Vegetables and Creamy Garlic & Chive Mashed Cauliflower

Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: 

Calories 246.79   Fat 11.89   Protein 16.21

Serves 2  

Creamy Garlic & Chive Mashed Cauliflower
1/2  Head Large Cauliflower, Steamed
 4-6  oz of Vegetable Broth,
 Low Sodium (adjust amount for  desired thickness)
 1 Clove of Garlic, Chopped
 2 TBS of Chives
 2 TBS of Nutritional Yeast
 Salt and Pepper to Taste 

Puree Cauliflower, Vegetable Broth,   and Garlic in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into bowl and add Chives and Nutritional Yeast. 

Coconut Lime Curried Vegetables
 1  Head of Broccoli
 8  oz Baby Bella Mushrooms, Sliced   
 1 Red Pepper, Cut in Chunks
 1 Cup of Vegetable Broth,
  Low Sodium add 1/3 cup of  the
 1/3 of Dulse
 1/3 of Coconut Milk
 1/2 TBS of Curry Powder
 1 oz of Sliced Almonds
 1 Tsp of Lime Zest

Saute Vegetables with 1/3 cup of Vegetable Broth. Add 1/3 cup of Vegetable Broth, Dulse, Lime Zest, and Coconut Milk - let simmer for 5-7  minutes. Garnish with Almonds.