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Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 7

I made it to Day 7! As I said from Day 1, 7 days is way more digestible (pun intended) than 21. I embarked on a 21-day Vegan cleanse at the end of July and I suffered through. I think mostly because my husband, Bryan, half way participated with me but that’s another story.

The final meal on this 7 day reset was very fitting because soup is my all time favorite comfort food. The name of the soup in the cover photo is Comfort Soup and it’s topped with kale croutons. The ingredients are leeks, potato, garlic, spices and kale. I have a confession though. When I couldn’t find my nutritional yeast (provides the cheese flavor), I decided to add parmesan cheese. Yup, I did. AND it was good despite not being vegan. It was vegetarian!

So how did I do on my goals? Remember, my goals were to have less bloat, sleep better, and have clearer skin. Well, I got 1 out of 3. The timing was a bit off for this reset because I started my period this week…so much for the bloat. Also, as with most women, my hormones were all over the place due to my period and I have the zits on my chin to prove it. BUT I did get a smidgeon more sleep as the days progressed. In full transparency, it probably helped that I took a sleep aide called Z-Quil a couple of nights.

A goal I didn’t mention but ended up happening anyway was to reduce my resting heart rate. It had slowly been rising the last couple of weeks. However, I notice it cycles by increasing and then decreasing every few months. It’s never increased out of range. Since I started the reset, it’s decreased by 3 points. I read that an increase could be early warning signs of heart disease or may have something to do with low iron. Long term affects of radiation treatment can be heart problems. I had radiation as treatment for breast cancer on my left side of my chest. My oncologist also prescribed me iron pills due to anemia. I have an upcoming appointment in the next month with my oncologist so I’ll talk to him about it.

This reset was a good reminder of the importance of eating mostly a plant based diet. It’s also refreshing to make new recipes. Variety is the spice of life for me. I will continue to share my meals with you.

So what’s next? I’ve already started two new challenges simultaneously. One is to revamp my exercise routine and the other is to curb my spending. Read my next post to find out more.

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Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 6

Home stretch. I slept in more than usual on Saturday. I had actually been up for hours just laying in bed reading. I didn’t get up for the day until almost noon, which supported intermittent fasting with little effort. I decided on Friday that because I had leftovers from previous meals from the week, that I wouldn’t cook the last meal until Sunday. It’s a soup and I’m looking forward to it!

I was not a huge fan of the Austinite Tacos. You can read about it in my previous post. I had some leftovers so I buckled down and ate them for lunch on Saturday although I almost opted to purchase a vegan meal from a restaurant. I didn’t so I wouldn’t waste food, plus I can save that money.

In my true fashion, I didn’t want any more of the leftovers so I decided to have one of my vegan frozen items for dinner.

Vegan burger. LPC

I bought this from Aldi’s which is far from where I live. I’m glad I purchased 2 boxes at the time because I like them a lot. They’re great for a quick lunch. I had the vegan burger and my avocado green smoothie (cover photo) for dinner.

The smoothie was so creamy. The liquid was supposed to be cashew milk, but I put the cashew milk in the freezer to chill earlier in the day and forgot about it. The box was frozen so I substituted with coconut water. The other smoothie ingredients were half an avocado, pineapple, spinach, plus I added flaxseeds, collagen peptides, and fresh ginger.

My Vegan reset week is almost over and I’ve been thinking about the best meal for transitioning back to normal eating. My daughter asked me to make her favorite which is any kind of bean and rice. We love red beans, pinto beans, black beans, butter beans, and lima beans, but we opted for pinto. This will be a good transition meal. I’ll probably roast some chicken to pair with it.

In the final post, I’ll share my progress on achieving the goals I set out to do for this week. To learn more about what led me here and the recipes read http://sometimes vegan chronicles.

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Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 5

Cravings…let’s talk about them. Did it start with the sweet aroma permiating the house of my husband, Bryan’s, BACON cooking in the oven or was it when he toasted 2 buttermilk and vanilla waffles? Perhaps it was when Bryan pan fried a juicy burger for lunch…? No, it might have been when we went to Chick-Fil-A to pick up a late lunch for the teenagers.

Bryan has made bacon every day this week & it didn’t affect me until TODAY. It was today, the 2nd day of my menstrual cycle, that I was reminded of why being a vegan is not sustainable for me. BUT can I make it for just 7 days? I only have 2 more days to go. It’s getting tough. I had my snacks on deck, but I have a confession. I ordered some waffle fries from Chick-Fil-A while picking up food for the teenagers. They were good.

Some of the ingredients for AUSTINITE tacos. LPC

I’m going to get right to it and let you know I’m not a fan of tonight’s dinner. It was interesting and turned out better than I thought, but after the leftovers, there will be no repeat. This recipe won’t make it to my meal rotation. I get the feeling that Austin, Texas (where I live) was the inspiration for the recipe and name, especially since Austin has become such a foodie place. Tacos are beloved here in Texas.

I ate them and was again reminded of why being a vegan is not sustainable for me. I * enjoy * meat * too * much. Yes, I do.

Austinite tacos. LPC

Day 5 was a struggle, but I made it. There were lots of components to tonight’s dinner that are too much to share right now. There was a filling, a slaw, and a chunky guacamole (my addition).

Let’s see what days 6 and 7 bring.

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Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 4

I woke up more rested than yesterday, did an excellent kickboxing workout, drank my morning liquids, ate my coconut granola with bananas and almond milk, drank my Pineapple Detox Green smoothie, prepared/ate another loaded sweet potato for lunch, and made/ate the thai lettuce wraps for dinner.

These meals keep getting better. I think mostly because I’m trying new recipes and food combinations. If you need a refresh on why I’m doing what I’m doing and where I’m getting my recipes, read this post: Sometimes Vegan Chronicles.

Light lesson of the day: SLEEP is a game changer and I need more of it. I was joyful and unbothered today. Oh and part of my crankiness is due to my cycle starting. The Fitbit tracker actually got it right.

Day 4 was good. My meals were plenty satisfying.

Thai lettuce wrap ingredients: shallots, celery, mushrooms, walnuts, green onions, garlic, ginger, snow peas (my addition), cilantro, mint. Sauce: Tamari, rice vinegar, coconut sugar, lime juice. LPC
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Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 3

I was mostly tired and cranky all day today. Perhaps the cleanse is working, but this lack of sleep is a problem. By the way, read my post from Monday called Sometimes Vegan Chronicles to see how I ended up on this journey. One of my goals for this cleanse is better sleep, but I’m not there yet.

Baked sweet potato ready for loading. LPC

I can’t stress enough how important it was for me to prep most of the snacks and the produce (wash, chop, store) over the weekend so that I wouldn’t find myself eating something I didn’t want to eat. Because I know myself so well, I even bought a few prepared frozen, vegan items in case I couldn’t make a meal for some reason. Never mind that my teenagers have been eating my frozen items. Like since when did they become vegan?

Famous Loaded Sweet Potato. LPC

Tonight’s dinner was so scrumptious. Similar to the coconut ginger carrot soup, I’ve had this recipe for a while and made it for the first time today. I was pleasantly surprised with the slaw topping. But how can you go wrong with a slaw of shredded red cabbage, carrot, and kale with avocado, sesame seeds, and pepitas, mixed with a lemon dijon vinegrette? I’m so happy this will be lunch tomorrow too. I’m definitely adding it to my regular meal rotation.

I do like having a meal plan to follow which helps me follow the plan. I’m going to take my tired and cranky self to bed because I can’t take it anymore. Hopefully, I’ll get some quality sleep.

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Sometimes Vegan Chronicles: Day 2

I did great on Day 2 of my Vegan reset with recipes from simplegreensmoothies.com. My avocado finally ripened enough to cut so I was able to make the Tropical Skin Cleanser green smoothie. It was pleasantly tart and had my lips puckering.

Me enjoying my green smoothie on the porch. LPC

The smoothie is meant for breakfast, but I didn’t finish mine until around lunch time because I have a whole routine of liquids that take me a while to drink. I start my day drinking 16-24 ounces of water spiked with either unsweetened cranberry juice or a green energy powder. I drink this during my workout. Then, after I get dressed for work, I have a cup of my morning detox drink that entails apple cider vinegar, a lemon wedge, warm water and honey or I’ll have a cup of detox tea. That’s about 8 ounces. Mix that in with meetings and now you know why it takes me a while.

Tropical Skin Cleanser Green Smoothies. LPC

I had the Waldorf salad as a snack, but didn’t get to take a picture. It didn’t look that pretty anyway.

Garden Vegetable Stir Fry. LPC

I modified the Garden Vegetable stir fry by not stir frying it at all. I prefer roasted vegetables so that’s what I did. I also added mushrooms.

Prepping helped a lot because I had healthy snacks. At the end of the day, I was exhausted, which makes me think the cleanse is kicking in. Overall, I had a great day.

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It’s over and he won…

Just kidding, I won too! Our Fresh Start 21 Day, green smoothie vegan cleanse ended on Saturday, 8/15/2020. Technically, it was 20 days since we ended the day before my daughter’s birthday. I’ve blogged about my smoothie cleanses from https://simplegreensmoothies.com/ before. You can peruse my site for all things having to do with green smoothies and vegan cleanses.

My husband, Bryan, definitely won in weight loss to the tune of almost 10 pounds. I lost about 3. In July, Bryan challenged me to a cleanse but we didn’t go as far as to wager how much weight we each would loose. And generally, he tends to lose more weight than me during cleanses probably because he is a male and has a different body composition. I won in the sense of the lessons I learned about myself. Of the many times I’ve done this cleanse, this was the most challenging for me. Let me tell you why.

The first thing is that because I’ve done this cleanse many times and have incorporated several of the cleanse recipes into my routine meal rotation, I thought I would have the upper hand since Bryan has NEVER had a vegan meal. I was wrong. Bryan’s strategy was to gradually eat less and less in attempts to avoid eating the foods he didn’t like. Picture a 7 or 8 year old’s face when encountering foods they don’t like. That’s how Bryan looked to me. That didn’t help my morale much because I was struggling with motivation at the onset. I initially wasn’t in the mindset to participate in a cleanse, but I thought I would just fake it until I got in the mood.

The amount of food prep for 3 weekends in a row, particularly in the first week, was exhausting. I made double batches of food thinking I was cooking for two. That didn’t do me any good because Bryan was only drinking the green smoothies and eating the dinners. I reminded him several times that this was not a starvation diet. All of the foods, including the snacks, were designed to provide nutrition and fuel. He insisted on doing it his way.

Asparagus, quinoa “salad” with dijon vinegrette. LPC

I was indeed excited about fueling my body with all the nutritious foods, but in the second week, I had a clear epiphany. Veganism wasn’t sustainable for me. I was disappointed because I had actually planned on going an extra week or two. I realized that I don’t want to do without meat. I craved eggs the second week and by the third week, I was craving meat. Also, all the prep was more work than I was willing to do long term.

I read a few times that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. I did not develop a habit to eat more vegan foods. This cleanse tends to have the opposite affect on me. For example, I’m now tired of cauliflower and fresh salads. Who gets tired of salads??? One year, I was so tired of nuts, I didn’t eat them for many months after the cleanse. However, it is my daily habit to drink one green smoothie. I love them so much and the recipes are endless.

Mixed greens salad with avocado, cucumber, grapes, sliced almonds, and dijon vinegrette. LPC
Citrus beet green smoothie. LPC

On a positive note, this cleanse was just long enough to cut my cravings for processed foods (chips, salty snacks, etc.) We’re going into our second week post cleanse and I can honestly say I don’t have a desire for those foods. WIN!!! Bryan is now trying out a Keto diet, but I declined although I’m adopting some of the principles such as reducing carbohydrates.

I’m glad I did the cleanse although I was getting weary towards the end. Overall, I’d like to adopt eating habits that are sustainable. I don’t like feeling like I’m depriving myself or am on a diet. I don’t want to have a love/hate relationship with food anymore. What I’m focused on now is monitoring the amount of calories (in the short term) I consume, ensuring I eat whole, minimally processed foods, and incorporating more weight training into my 6 day a week exercise regimen.

What fitness and exercise goals are you working on?

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It’s been 14 days

I wish I could say this whole cleanse up to this point has been a breeze, but I can’t. Exactly two weeks ago on July 26, I let the world know I was embarking on a 21 day Vegan cleanse through https://simplegreensmoothies.com/. I’ve done this cleanse once or twice a year for the last few years. I’ve written many blog posts about my experiences, which is different every time. What makes this one fun is that my husband, Bryan, decided to join me for a friendly challenge. This is his first time on the cleanse.

Week 1 was actually a breeze and it felt really great to be preparing and consuming these nutritious foods. Since I’m not new to the cleanse, I’ve gotten really familiar with the recipes and know which ones I like and don’t like. Of course, I stuck to the ones that I like, hoping Bryan would like them too. He’s a very finicky eater.

Week 2 is where we both leave much to be desired in how poised and committed we’ve been to the recipes. The most important thing about Week 2 is that it is the actual cleanse week. Not only are we consuming all vegan foods, but grains, lentils, and beans are omitted. Life certainly is less colorful without these foods. I also remembered that I did NOT like most of Week 2’s recipes.

Bryan has denied this, but I think his strategy was to simply not eat in order to avoid eating the food. There was no question we were mostly hungry this week. Have you ever been so hungry, yet didn’t want to eat the food before you? You usually hear that if you’re hungry enough, you’d eat anything. I was hungry most of Week 2, but didn’t want to eat. We did cheat a couple of times with onion rings. Onions rings are vegan. What can I say (palm bump on forehead)?

I’m hoping for greener (pun intended!) pastures in this last week. Grains, lentils, and beans are back. At least they’ve been back since day 13 because I couldn’t take another day without them. If this were an actual race, I’d be the one clawing and clinching to the finish line. I’m a little surprised by how I’m experiencing this cleanse. And to think, I was actually planning on going an extra week. No way!

All in all, it’s been a fun experience with Bryan. We’re both a little lighter too. We’re celebrating the last day of the cleanse by BREAKING the cleanse for our daughter’s birthday. She gave us the side eye a couple times as she watched us cheat. I type this in jest, but what example are we showing her? I know. Execution might not be perfect, but finish. Pick back up where you left off. Do your best, and even if you don’t, keep it moving.

I will lay this cleanse to rest for the remainder of 2020 once we complete this round. Here are some pictures of the beautiful food I made with my own hands. As an experienced cook, I tailored the recipes to my preferences and even combined some.

Citrus beet green smoothie
Swiss chard white bean skillet
Black bean zucchini tacos
roasted veggies served with basil pesto and brown rice (not pictured)
Baked hash cakes over a bed of mixed greens
Prep for lemon chia pudding; vanilla extract not pictured; chia seeds soaking in coconut milk
Herbalicious hummus with veggies
Filling for black bean zucchini tacos
Pineapple carrot green smoothie

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It starts tomorrow

Sometimes the thing you don’t want to do is the thing you should do. To my pleasant surprise, my husband, Bryan, offered to do a cleanse with me…any cleanse of my choosing. Hmmmm. I’ve done a few that I keep going back to and they all involve green smoothies. Then, he changed the tone of the offer to a CHALLENGE. Come again??? Let’s do Fresh Start, the 21 day vegan, green smoothie challenge, spring edition.

I’ve been prepping all weekend. I’ve posted before about setting yourself up for success whenever you can. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m going to show Bryan how it’s done. Anyway, this is a good time for an overall cleanse- mentally and physically. It’s something I can control in this messy state of the world right now. It’s also a nice distraction.

I was not that excited initially. I started thinking about all the meat products in the freezer and the chicken breasts I just bought at a great deal. I thought about the stash of food I’ve been accumulating for months just in case the state shuts down. I could feel myself holding onto something.

As we were shopping, which took the whole weekend, my excitement began to increase. I began letting go of “BUT this” and “BUT that”. I began visualizing how good I would feel during the process. I’ve been here before. It’s going to feel great and I will be so proud of myself. I’m going to feel good, look good, sleep good, and possibly lose a few pounds in the process.

So there you have it. I spent two whole days prepping my heart out. What I like about this cleanse is that there is plenty of plant powered, delicious food. Here are some pictures of my endeavors. I’ll post a couple of times during this process so you can read about my progress.

Woke up Sunday morning and made the roasted snacks. Tamari almonds are part of a different cleanse and that’s ok because they’re vegan. LPC
Herbalicious hummus in my Vitamix blender minus the cilantro because I didn’t have any.. LPC
Decadent cashew cream which is a versatile substitute for sour cream and whipped cream. LPC
Two cashew creams were frozen for weeks 2 and 3. I will eat this with a kale salad, zucchini black bean tacos, waldorf salad…to name a few. LPC
Almond butter sauce for the asparagus snow pea stir fry with brown rice later in the week. LPC
Strawberry herb dressing for Monday’s lunch salad with mixed greens, cucumbers, avocado, and sliced almonds. LPC
Strawberry herb dressing. I labeled everything to make it easier for Bryan. LPC
Warm spiced almond milk. The coconut whipped cream is not part of the cleanse recipe, but it’s so good. I drink this often. This will be our daily night cap. Yum!!! LPC

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Sometimes a vegan

I borrowed the title for this post from a colleague at an office birthday party coordinated for our boss. I brought homemade “herbalicious” hummus and organic carrots and cucumber slices. She asked me if I was vegan. (I often prepare vegan dishes for work events). After a moment of reflection, my response was, “Sometimes!” She said that should be the title of my next book…”Sometimes A Vegan”. I like it.

Homemade hummus.LPC

I paused when responding to her because I prepare and eat vegan dishes often. I do love meat, but I crave vegetables. I started off on my vegan journey with various detox cleanses that I would do a couple of times a year. What I loved about my vegan cleanses is that the food was filling. I was not hungry on any of the cleanses, plus I learned how to make amazing recipes, got the added benefits of improved sleep, mental clarity and glowing skin. I’ve written several posts about my cleanses.

When I think about it, my love of vegan food has progressed from an annual cleanse for a specified duration, to participating in cleanses a few times a year, to incorporating vegan dishes into my meal rotation regularly. I have even modified some of my Haitian recipes like beans and rice to make them vegan.

For example, my mom taught me to fry a few pieces of salted pork in my beans. I’ve even tried simmering my pot of beans with smoked ham hocks in the past. However, for the last couple of years, I’ve completely omitted meat from my beans. This happened organically over time, especially after my breast cancer diagnosis. I’ve learned to load up with flavorful spices and herbs. I don’t miss the pork.

Red beans and Rice. LPC

I purchased this book at the recommendation of my green smoothie Facebook group members. LPC

I’ve been doing research lately on perimenopause and the best food choices to help manage it. I’ve been reading about how this is the time in a woman’s life (my time) to be really vigilant about nutrition and being active. As you get older, it’s not as easy to lose weight, or maintain it, for that matter. I can attest to the fact that it’s harder for me to lose weight. I can tell my body composition is changing without much effort from me. I don’t need my butt or stomach to get much bigger than they already are, but they’re trying.

Is a vegan diet sustainable as I go through perimenopause? I don’t think it is for me. One issue is I developed anemia due to heavy blood loss during my periods. Just a few weeks ago, I think I hit a milestone in how much blood I lost during just the first two days of my period. It doesn’t happen every month, but when it does, it’s significant.

I’ve read that a vegan diet may be lacking in iron, which is what I need. Don’t get me wrong, it’s true: leafy green vegetables, lentils/beans, and other vegetables have iron. However, the best type of iron absorbed by the body is “heme” iron, which is found in meat sources. Since I learned about the anemia about 6 months ago, I’ve been focused on eating more iron rich foods.

Burger with cheese, sauteed onions, arugula, fermented pickles on naan bread.LPC

So what diet is the best diet for perimenopause? I’ve found compelling research that a low glycemic diet is the best diet. This is consistent with what my primary care physician told me in December 2018. She told me to replace the bad carbohydrates with good ones and to abstain from white rice, white floor, and sweets. Now, she made the recommendations because my glucose was getting a little high, but this diet seems to have multiple benefits. I’ve gotten my glucose down. I think my apple cider vinegar tonic helped.

Now, I realize I just used the words “good” and “bad” to describe food, which I prefer not to. It would serve us all better if we looked at food with a healthier mindset such as focusing on the nutritional benefits. Also, I’m not a “dieter”. I’m working on what food choices will be the most beneficial to me. I will work on my food narrative.

Mushrooms getting ready for the air fryer. LPC

My food journey has evolved over time and I’m ok with that. My main goal is to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. I want to have a great relationship with food and it is getting better. Ideally, I don’t want to look at certain foods as bad. I’ve always adopted the mindset that moderation is the key. Over the years, I’ve become more mindful of the types of foods I put into my body.

What are your favorite foods? I’d love to hear from you!

Breakfast: sauteed sweet potatoes, quinoa, eggs, and bacon. This hardy breakfast held us for hours as we toured two museums on Saturday, 9/21/19.LPC

Blanton Museum of Art, 9/21/19. LPC

Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas..LPC