Food Success!

Since changing the way I eat from a standard American diet (SAD) to a plant-based, whole food diet I have experienced many positive changes in my life. Changing the way you eat is not easy, it takes willpower and determination. It’s interesting to hear many people echo similar comments about not being able to give up meat or dairy or oil, all of which would benefit their health, but for whatever reason they continue down a destructive path. Then again, who am I to judge, as I at poorly for nearly 41 years.

Today was a big success for me at work, as I continually talk about a plant-strong lifestyle, yet many mock my efforts and comment on how they could not give up meat. Most of those commenting negatively on my way of eating were men, but that doesn’t pressure me to give up all I have gained and go back to eating a SAD. Instead many of the women were open to the idea. Two of the women in my office didn’t eat meat and called themselves “vegan: yet they still ate cheese and used oils to cook. Good, but not great. Another woman was on Weight Watchers and was always counting her points. Finally another woman seemed to be working out all the time, but for her, weight loss was not coming very rapidly.

It seemed three of the women shared a commonality, they still ate dairy and oil. All three of them are active and do some form of exercise daily, yet for two of them it’s all about diet. So after some persuasion I decided to cook for a group of people in my office. I knew it wouldn’t be highly popular, but I knew the message would get through to a few people, but the last thing I was out to do was change anyone’s eating habits. I was looking to introduce good food that was healthy, in that regard I believe I succeeded.

It comes as no surprise that I cooked potato enchiladas as the main course. I also put together a tri-colored couscous salad and black bean brownies for dessert. Only the brownies caused me some concern, as I wasn’t completely sold on their taste when I sampled on last night. Still I cut them up into squares and brought some with me. I knew the enchiladas and salad would go over well, based on what my wife had said.

Overall, those who sampled my plant-based foods were impressed with the taste. The enchiladas were a big hit in the office, so much so I was printing out the recipe and handing it out. While the filling for the enchiladas can be modified to include more than just sauteed onion, potato and spinach, it was the sauce, which I got from Lindsey Nixon’s Everyday Herbivore that really made the enchilada dish.

As I said, I don’t expect to change the way anyone eats in the office, even those who are vegan or dieting. It was satisfying to know that someone other than my wife, her best friend and aunt liked the enchiladas, a dish that could be modified with more veggies and yes, even meat if you must.

Just Small Potatoes

I am still about 2 weeks short of going 4 months since changing my diet and eating habits. It’s been a wonderful change that has benefited myself, wife and to a lesser degree my son. Along with the blood work results trending down, my weight it down nearly 30 pounds and I have been walking and lifting weights more than I have done in the past. As of yesterday my wife was down 11 pounds, but hasn’t adhered as strictly as I have. I am fine with that, for the most part she eats what I cook but has come to find a favorite in these last few months.

Never before did I think we would be buying 20 pound bags of potato or 10 pounds of sweet potatoes. I didn’t think I would be search for the best deals on bulk foods, such as nutritional yeast, beans and rice. Yet as soon as I find the best way to store these items I will make the plunge and buy in bulk. I was surprised to see Costco carrying a 25 pound bag of brown rice and a 20 pound bag of pinto beans.

Potatoes have become our “new meat” at the dinner table. I know that sounds a bit strange, but this ingredient can used in many dishes in a variety of ways. My wife used to enjoy eating my turkey & spinach enchiladas. When I change my way of eating, giving up meat I was able to find a enchilada recipe that used potatoes as the meat filling. Much like the turkey recipe, I would saute garlic and onion with some vegetable stock or broth and then add the chopped, boiled potatoes. Add in some spinach and cover with sauce. It’s a quick and simple recipe.

This has been the staple of our diet for the past few weeks, my wife cannot get enough of the potato enchiladas I have been making. I could use a change, unfortunately I don’t have the time to cook 3 different meals a night to feed the family. I have been scouring many vegetarian and vegan web sites and started to collect a fair numbers of sites that I will hope to use in the future. Unfortunately cooking on the McDougall program is a different than a cook claiming to be vegetarian or vegan. Many of these recipes still use a fair amount of fats, including olive oil. I have found that the case with a few vegan cookbooks I have recently purchased.

As I have mentioned before, this is a challenge but a welcome one. I have been fairly successful making meals that are relatively quick and easy and taste good. I know many I talk to about the way I eat have a misconception I am stuffing my face full of salad. That could not be further from the truth. I have yet to be hungry since I changed my eating habits and if I do get hungry, then chances are I have missed a meal. This has been too frequent at work, as I do not take lunch and hesitate to spend any money to eat out.

Tonight was a bit of an experiment. I found a recipe online for sweet potato burritos. The wife’s comment was “interesting taste.” I guess these won’t be able to replace the potato enchiladas. Still these burritos had a nice flavor that could easily be modified or spiced up to your liking. It also included onions, kidney beans along with cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, mustard and soy sauce. I know, it doesn’t sound good, but it was. Recipe soon.

Sprouts & Taters

Outside of the wonderful benefits I am experience since I have changed my diet, which realistically is a lifestyle change as been the new foods I have started to eat. Before learning about Dr. John McDougall my vegetables were usually limited to a basic salad slathered in dressing. It was rare I would bake, broil or steam vegetables to accompany what meat dish I was creating.

Since my 2010 physical I thought we were eating better, passing on red meat and opting for chicken and pork. Little did I know…these were no better for my cholesterol. These past few months learning about food and researching nutrition has been an eye opening experience. Many of the “myths” I had about food have been dispelled and I am finding eating an entirely new experience.

This last week I tasted two foods I had never eating in 42 years. The first, Brussels sprouts, which were nothing more than steamed and served as a side to a cranberry gratin over fingerling potatoes. I had been looking for a recipe in order to serve there, but most commonly recipes included olive oil. The flavor of this food was outstanding just steamed.

The other food I cooked up after finding a recipe in a Sunset magazine was re-stuffed sweet potato with a creme sauce. The original recipe was using Mexican crema, orange juice, lemon juice and zest to create a orange crema, needless to say I didn’t make my crema that way. Still the flavor of the sweet potato was amazing! What was even more impressive was I was full after finishing off a large potato.

Last night gefore making more potato enchiladas for my wife and son, I popped a sweet potato in the oven with nothing on it, 45 minutes later when their dinner went in the oven I sat down to enjoy my hot sweet potato. I split it down the middle adding a little bit of cumin, some pepper and a sauce (consisting of water, cashews and nutritional yeast that was blended). Chances are good I needed none of these additional flavors to supplement what the sweet potato provided.

To date nothing has surpassed the flavor of the potato enchiladas for my wife. In the last 2 weeks I have made this dish no less than 4 times! I am still searching for another dish to add to our weekly menu that “has substance” and good flavor that will have my wife wanting more. I have been looking and bookmarking many different vegan/vegetarian recipe sites, as well as using recipes from Dr. McDougall’s message boards and past newsletters. Some of the recipes from the Internet might require some tweaking to prepare it without oil or dairy, but not much is lost by leaving these ingredients out.