January clean eating recap

It’s February 4th, so I thought I’d give you guys a recap of how my January cleaner eating goals went. Before I break down how I did in each goal, here are some photos of what I was eating while eliminating gluten, sweets, extra caffeine, booze, etc. throughout the month.

I really did learn to respect and admire salads more in January, and this lunchtime bowl is proof. This is a variation of my “staple salad,” that I made often throughout the month. It included carrots, celery, cabbage, sunflower seeds, quinoa, kidney beans, avocado and a quick tahini/balsamic dressing. A complete delicious, filling, super healthy meal in a bowl.

As you could gather from my last post, pho has been a mainstay in our house this winter, and January was no exception. With gluten free rice noodles, tons of veggies and flavorful MSG-free broth, our local favorite Pho V&V knows exactly what we need and love.

January inevitably became the month of lentil soup making and consuming in our apartment. We love it so much that we didn’t mind at all, and it seems as though there are infinite variations on this simplistic, hearty soup variety. This is one of a few that we made for the first time, Mom’s Lentil Soup from one of our favorite vegan cookbooks, Yellow Rose Recipes by Joanna Vaught. The red wine the recipe called for added an amazing depth of flavor to the soup that we both enjoyed.

January was a month filled with smoothies of multiple varieties. Most days it was my Go-To Green Smoothie, but some days I wanted to switch it up. One Sunday when I was contemplating breakfast, I realized that I wanted something a bit lighter for the first meal of the day. I remembered we still have a ton (ton!) of canned pumpkin leftover from my fall frenzy, so we whipped up some of my rich Pumpkin Peanut Butter smoothies, and reveled in the fact that pumpkin is delicious any time of year.

More salad porn! This gigantic plate came from Marlene’s and included (but was not limited to): broccoli, peas, edamame, bell peppers, cabbage, garbanzos, cherry tomatoes, spinach, cucumber, savory baked tofu (out of this world good) and goddess dressing. I had it with a cup of vegetable soup and kombucha, and it sated me for hours. A jaunt to Marlene’s is one of my favorite local lunch indulgences.

More lentil soup for you! This is the French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme from Veganomicon. I’m not sure why we’d never made this before, but that will definitely change in the future. Spicy, peppery and even better the next day, this soup was a winner.

And lastly, a veggie platter from one of our favorite Seattle Ethiopian restaurants, Queen Sheba. We visited the restaurnat on a Seattle date night, after purchasing records at Everyday Music and books from Elliott Bay Book Company. A typical date night for us: nerdy, and filled with delicious vegan food.

Let’s review my goals, and break down how I did with each one:

- a smoothie a day, usually breakfast: This goal was easily accomplished. I love smoothies, and once I got into the groove of making them every morning, I came to crave them each day. Slowly but surely during the month, my a.m. toast cravings faded.

- one meal-sized salad a day, typically at lunch: This was one that I thought I’d struggle with, but during the first half of the month I did a great job of integrating a salad into every day, whether at lunch, with dinner, or as a snack. As the month went on and got a little busier, I struggled a bit with it (or flat out forgot, bad), but I just picked up again the next day.

- limit alcohol (I’m not a big drinker anyway, but just less when I do choose to imbibe): I did well with this goal, but I realized after the month started that I probably should’ve just eliminated beer/wine (I didn’t have any alcohol) altogether. It would not have been hard for me to do, so I felt like this was kind of a “safe” goal. I’ll keep this in mind for next time.

- less coffee, more green tea: Kicked ass, took names with this one.

- cut the sweets (this one really stings): Yes, this one did sting, but except for the Quinoa cookie from Corina on the snow day and a few squares of dark chocolate during moments of weakness, I successfully cut the sweets. I deserve a trophy or a cookie, (ha!) for being so good with this goal.

- eliminate bread/gluten as much as possible, and focus more on whole grains: Did it. Other than making pizza one night, pasta another (we ran out of gluten-free meal ideas a few nights) and drinking beer and realizing that it wasn’t gluten-free, I was good with giving up the gluten. I definitely had moments where I craved it, but I stayed strong, replaced it with a whole grain, and still felt just as satisfied, if not more.

- more fruits, vegetables and nuts as snacks: I achieved this goal for the most part. The fruit and veggie snacks are something I try and do everyday, but I struggle with eating raw nuts (that aren’t in a meal or dish) some days. I’m still working on this one, and I might be for some time, as I know how important they are.

- allow wiggle room on the weekends/here and there: Done, as referenced above.

Conclusions: Though I didn’t do as well as I could’ve with some goals, I think for the most part I successfully cleaned up my act in terms of lessening the heavier/harsher foods, and increasing the amount of healthier, whole foods I consumed. As I mentioned before, I will probably not stop eating some things that are considered vegan junk food permanently anytime soon, but I believe that evaluating your food/exercise/lifestyle choices every once in a while is a good thing. I definitely plan on doing this again in the future, but for now I’m back to my regular eating, with a few new healthier habits guiding some choices.

How are you doing with your health-related New Year’s resolutions/goals? Are you integrating new, healthier habits as a result of changing up your eating and exercise in January?

Hitting restart

Hello, and Happy New Year! Hey look, it’s 2012 and we’re still alive! Silly Mayan calendar.

If you’re anything like most people I know and/or interact with on the Internet these days, you likely made New Year’s resolutions. If you’re also like most, I bet many of you have health-based resolutions, even if you’re already vegan. People love to assume that veganism = healthy, but that’s not always so. My favorite example of why this logic is faulty is a guy I worked with in college at Native Foods in LA. He subsisted off vegan pizzas, french fries and chips. I eat lots of things that could be considered vegan junk food and probably won’t stop eating them anytime soon (except this month – more on that in a sec), but the difference between that guy and myself is I actually love fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and seeds.

With the world starting to turn in a direction that is more vegan-friendly, it’s hard to say no to things like vegan donuts, Newman-Os, and Daiya-topped pizza simply because they exist. They’re just so good! But sometimes you need to step away from the vegan cookies and clean up your act. And January is the perfect time to do so.

I’ve attempted cleanses before, and most have ended miserably. This time last year, I started an elimination diet to see if I was allergic to certain foods (under the guidance of my naturopath) and instead of lasting the whole 21 days, I lasted 7. I think anyone who goes through a whole month or close to a month of cleansing is awesome, but I’m not quite there yet.

I don’t like the word “resolution”, but I like the word “goal” a lot. Something about the inferences of each that makes me prefer “goal” over the other, so this month, I’ve made a goal to attempt eating cleaner overall. The holidays were lovely and filled with gluten-based main dish masterpieces, Brazil nut pie and so many snacks, and I just feel like it’s time to return to basics for a bit. So without further ado, here’s my non-cleanse, non-diet plan for eating cleaner this month:

Goals:

- a smoothie a day, usually breakfast

- one meal-sized salad a day, typically at lunch

- limit alcohol (I’m not a big drinker anyway, but just less when I do choose to imbibe)

- less coffee, more green tea

- cut the sweets (this one really stings)

- eliminate bread/gluten as much as possible, and focus more on whole grains

- more fruits, vegetables and nuts as snacks

- allow wiggle room on the weekends/here and there

January will see lots of green smoothies and VitaMix usage.

This past week was my first week working on said goal, and so far, so good. I did have some gluten in the form of pizza dough/Tofurky sausage mid-week and Puffy Pillow Pancakes this weekend (post coming very soon), but still, that’s so much better than usual. I had the smoothie everyday for breakfast and successfully had a salad for one meal everyday. The salad concept was one I really thought I’d struggle with, as my boyfriend summed up my prior sentiments towards them well, “but I thought you hated salads?” Yep, it’s true. I used to be a salad hater. You have to understand that I’ve been a vegetarian and vegan for a combined 7 years now, so in the beginning my only option was often a pathetic iceberg, shredded carrots, stale croutons with sad, sad vinaigrette dressing, and I got sick of them. But gone are those days. You can get a kickass salad at many establishments now, and I’ve learned how to make some impressive ones (and dressings) at home over time, too. So if anything, this might be the month that salads earn back my respect.

I’m not a doctor/nutritionist, but I know that our cravings and tastes change as we change our habits. I’ve got a major sweet tooth, but after going the week without a sugary treat, I’m actually finding myself not getting the shakes when I don’t have one. And my sometimes present cravings for gluten (I love gluten) are gone, too. So while it’s still early in the month, I foresee this being a good experiment in terms of getting myself back on track health-wise, and setting the stage for a focused, sensible and delicious 2012.

Did you make any health-related New Year’s resolutions/goals, and if so, what are they? How are they going thus far?