All or Nothing? Two + Years of Not So Raw and Not So Vegan Recapped

So here is the latest.   At some point during 2012 I decided that trying to eat vegan just wasn’t working for me and I was starting to eat more junk food as a vegan than I did as a vegetarian. I was still holding onto a lot of baby weight and having a hard time losing it.

At the end of 2012 I decided it was time to get back in shape.  I hadn’t been doing yoga or much of anything and I’d been curious about Crossfit so decided to try that a few times a week for about 6 months.  The husband did this, too.   This is how he got into the idea of eating paleo.   I’ve been a vegetarian from 1992 through 1996 and then steadily since 2001 so I wasn’t about to start eating ribeyes and greens for breakfast.  I did get curious about the idea of a vegetarian paleo diet though:  lots of fruits, veggies, little to no grains, some raw dairy, etc.   I gave it a try now and then but wasn’t really able to sustain it.  I think I even tried to eat 100% raw at some point in the summer of 2013 but it didn’t last more than a few days.  I spent an entire weekend neglecting my child while sprouting chick peas, making raw falafels and raw onion bread and probably a raw cheesecake, too.  I decided as much as I had loved eating raw before Ruthie was born it just wasn’t realistic for me at this time in my life.

During this summer I also realized I missed Ashtanga yoga.  I’d taken a full year off after only practicing sporadically since Ruthie was born but it finally drew me back in.   We were able to put wood floors down in the studio building that is attached to our house.  I’d planned for that room to be my yoga studio since we first looked at the house in the fall of 2011 and once the wood floors were there (instead of the linoleum we’d been pulling up over the past 6 months!) that is what it became. Yoga was back on.

We got really into juicing in the fall of 2013.  We had a Champion juicer that Scott used more than I did at the time.  He was always making a V8 sort of juice that I loved but it was such a pain to clean and took too long to make so he usually just made enough for one serving.   He’d been interested in the Norwalk juicer for quite some time after reading about the Gerson therapy.  We decided our health was worth it and I started trolling eBay for one.   When you go looking to buy something you’re likely to find it and I did.  We bought a used Norwalk from the 80s for about half the price of a new one but it looked and worked just great — except for the fact that it was as noisy as a jet plane in our kitchen and while you could make cold pressed juices that lasted in the fridge for days, it took at least an hour to make a batch of juice and the cleanup was just horrible.  I think we still have pulp on our ceiling from triturating.   A few months later I went to a friend’s house and she’d just gotten a really nice Breville for Christmas.  You could throw whole apples into the thing.  It was so fast and cleanup was easy, too. I started to hate the Norwalk.

For my birthday in April of 2014 my husband got me that Breville.  It was a surprise but it was delivered about a week before my actual birthday and I saw it delivered.  He let me open it early and I went crazy juicing all sorts of things.  I watched Fat, Sick, and Dead for the second time.  I’d seen it years ago but decided to watch it again since there was an ad for it right on the juicer.   It inspired me to do a juice fast.  I did about 15 days including a five day  as I recall.  I was hungry and had no energy on it.  I didn’t practice yoga.  I dropped 5 pounds.  I stopped the juice fast.  I gained it back.

Then I started reading the Joel Fuhrman books:  Eat to Live and The Eat to Live Cookbook.   I even listened to The End of Dieting on Audible.  The idea of being a “nutritarian” and focusing on the nutrients per calorie and striving for nutrient density made a lot of sense.  And so of course this brings you back to eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds.  I can’t say I did that well sticking to it but the seed was planted at least.

During the first week of August of 2014 we had planned a trip to Montana.  We were going to see a client of mine and then go camping in Yellowstone and Grand Teton.  Scott had been suffering with a cold that had turned into an upper respiratory infection.  Two nights before we were supposed to leave he had an asthma attack and had to drive himself to the hospital at 3 AM.  They pumped him up with steroids and gave him a prescription for a nebulizer and an epi-pen.  We contemplated canceling our trip or me going alone with Ruthie as I did need to see my client.  In the end he wound up coming on the trip but it was a trying 24 hours.

During the trip he decided to give up gluten.  While we were out west he gradually started to feel better but frankly we had a lousy trip.  Scott was quite sick for the beginning of it and then it rained for the rest of it.  Camping in the rain is not fun.

Scott stayed gluten free during the trip and continued with it when we returned.  I decided to try going gluten free myself but not until after our annual Labor Day weekend trip to Montreal where they have the best bagels on the planet.  I then did a full month being completely gluten free.  At the end of the month Ruthie really wanted to go to our favorite wood fired oven pizza place and I decided to split a pizza with her since she couldn’t eat an entire one by herself and they don’t have a gluten free option there.  I won’t lie.  I felt fine after.  No different.

Over the Fall I let myself eat some wheat here and there but much less than I was eating before.     We were starting to dip our toe into junk food gluten free foods much like we’d become junk food vegans before.  We were eating our fair share of Udi’s gluten free pizzas and the like and those can’t be good for you.  A nice whole grain bread would probably be better.

During the first week of November, 2014 I took my semi-annual trip to see clients in Honolulu.  A client took me out for dinner the day before I was scheduled to leave and, knowing I was a vegetarian, suggested we try Honolulu’s raw vegan restaurant, Grapes and Vines.  It had been years since I went to a raw restaurant and I was looking forward to it.  I tend to eat a lot of fruit while I’m there and so I decided to eat raw all day feating on papaya and bananas.  The meal was great.  We started with some raw ravioli and then each got the vegetable lasagna.  It was so good I decided to eat raw again the next day and wound up stopping there to get their garden burger with jicama “fries” on my way to the airport for 9:30 PM flight.

I was feeling inspired to eat a high raw diet when I got back.  Going into winter and the holidays I didn’t think 100% raw was practical but I could start eating and preparing more raw foods and just eat cooked when eating raw was impractical.  It has been almost three weeks of eating that way now and it’s working really well so far.  I’ve been making raw crackers and desserts.  I’ve been listening to raw food podcasts.  I’ve been eating pretty much raw till dinner and then tending to eat cooked foods with salads for dinner most nights.  Last night we had brown rice pasta with pesto and a big salad.  I’ve been eating some cheese (parmesan grated on the pasta last night for example) but much less than I was a few months ago.  I’ve been making huge green smoothies at work and soaking almonds every few days to make almond milk and then chia pudding.  It’s all feeling fairly fun and easy to maintain.  I’ve discovered an amazing raw brownie recipe.  I’ve fallen in love with buckwheat groats again.   I don’t have that walk-on-water amazing feeling I did after a few weeks of eating 100% raw pre-Ruthie but I have energy and for the most fart feel pretty good.  And it all has me wondering… what took me so long to figure out that you can eat a high raw nutrient dense diet?  Why did I always try to do it all or nothing?  As my husband will tell you it’s because I am a little bit crazy and that tends to be my modus operandi.  Maybe the yoga is finally starting to work though!

A Mostly Vegan Feast

Last Monday was a whirlwind of vegan cooking and baking. I was feeling ambitious and we decided to have four friends, two extra toddlers, and one friend’s parents over for Rosh Hashanah.  So that was eight adults and 3 toddlers to feed.

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I have to say, I feel like a little bit of a vegan chef now because I made 5 dishes almost entirely without help.

I decided sort of at the last minute on Monday morning to call myself Jewish and take the day off.  I hadn’t been planning on it though we had planned on having at least one couple over for Rosh Hashana weeks prior.  I hadn’t thought through anything further than, “come over for dinner!”  The Husband is Jewish.  And most of our friends up here are as well.  So, never having prepared a Rosh Hashana feast or a vegan feast before I decided to take the bull by the horns and start googling.  My vegan search went something like this:

And I pretty much worked off of the first site that came up.  I made:

  • Sweet As Honey Bread
  • Beet, Clementine, Apple and Dill Salad with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and some horseradish for a little kick.
  • Afghan Sweet Pumpkin with Garlic Mint Yogurt Sauce
  • Whole Wheat Cous Cous with Seven Vegetable Stew
  • Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

We also had challah, which I did not bake.  And apples and honey.  Everything but the challah, garlic yogurt sauce and honey was vegan.  And everything was delicious!  I don’t think there was a single vegan at the table and everyone loved it.

Vegan Elote, Black Beans, Rice and Collard Greens

On our honeymoon 2 1/2 years ago in Sedona we had the most amazing elote dish. I’ve been craving it ever since.

And then the husband made this vegan elote tonight that was just as good. Oh was it good.

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We’re turning into healthy vegans. I’ve always loved a good vegan restaurant. Or a restaurant with some good vegan options. They make food that makes me not even miss dairy and eggs. And I love dairy and eggs. But really when you can eat heathy and feel great and food tastes great and you’re not harming another creature to do so, why wouldn’t you?

Well, because who knows how to make food taste that good? That was always my problem. I was never trained as a vegan chef (or any chef for that matter) and haven’t known the little tricks that make healthy vegan food taste just as good if not better than its junk and non vegan alternatives.

So this past week I’ve learned a few tricks. One was from the husband and he picked it up at Ruthie’s new school. It’s a Waldorf school and she just started the parent/child class with him one day a week. The trick is short grain brown rice in the rice cooker with some butter (or in our case Earth Balance buttery spread) and a little soy sauce. Yum!

The next trick was a savory creamy sauce for beans, tofu, or veggies with said rice. I picked this up over on yourveganmom.com. We had some friends come by for an impromptu dinner on Sunday and we were going to make some vegan pizza but ran out of time and I’d been wanting to try this sauce out and luckily we had all the fixings in the house to make it with some rice and broccoli. This has already revolutionized the notion of grains, greens and protein for me. I made enough to have a jar left over and poured some on the otherwise bland beans and rice that we had with our elote and collard greens this evening. So good.

We’re also trying to get better at meal planning.  We’ve got a dry erase monthly calendar that we’re writing the meals for the week on.  And one of us will go shopping for the major staples we need for the week.  And the good thing about meal planning is that if we know we’re making beans tomorrow and we have dried beans in our cupboard tonight, we can soak them overnight so that we can used dried beans instead of canned.   I swear.  I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 15 cumulative years and I think last night was the first time we soaked our own beans.  I really don’t get credit for anything but the idea of doing this as the husband did the actual soaking and bean cooking in our crock pot.  But I did make the collard greens,  which were terrific by the way.  I stemmed them and chopped them up and boiled them for 5 or so minutes and then sautéed them with some garlic and olive oil and then added salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Mmm.

Back Home

It’s Monday morning. We’re home from our trip. We have no food in the house. Last night at 9 PM I was starving and scrounged up a can of lentil soup.

Scott was nice enough to cook some oats with apple, honey and flax seed. Ruthie and I had a little soy milk in ours, too.

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KOOKIES

Ruthie loves “kookies” (cookies). And cheddar bunnies. And their cousin, goldfish. And “pizzi” (pizza). And pretty much anything that includes refined flower, sugar and or cheesse. In our defense she also loves green smoothies, but we did let some bad habits develop over the summer.

One tough thing about toddlers is that they have friends. And their friends have snacks. And they steal from their friends. And you permit this and call it, “sharing” because you know it’s under the threat of tantrums. And so they learn how tasty things like cheddar bunnies are. And they seem so happy when they’re eating them. You start to feel like you might be depriving your child if you don’t let her have some bunnies occasionally.

And then the slippery slope has begun. It might start off as an afternoon at Target and thinking, “oh she loves them so much. I’ll just buy a box for emergency snacks.” Because snacks become an emergency with a toddler. They must be kept fed every 2 hours or they turn into monsters.

And then the next thing you know cheddar bunnies are the only thing she’ll eat. She wakes up and asks for the cat and then her bunnies. And somehow she has turned into a monster. Despite the regular feedings. You can see how it would happen.

So in an effort to bring this kid’s eating habits back on track and at least get her off of processed food (except in case of emergencies – like long car rides when frankly the price of a happy kid is worth the bunnies!) I decided to kick off our vegan year with some pumpkin spice cookies that I read about on Choosing Raw. We didn’t have oat flour in the house and I was baking at 6 AM so I had to go with the mystery gluten free flour we had in the freezer. This was the downfall of the cookies. I think it had a fair amount of chickpea flower in the mix. And so the cookies had a very funky after taste. I’d try them again though and follow the recipe more closely. Ruthie didn’t care for them. But she’s still being weaned off her bunnies.

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2+ Years Later

Ok, a little has changed since my last post.

First and foremost: Ruthie, our absolutely delectable daughter, has been added to our lives. She will be 20 months old tomorrow.

We moved up to Woodstock full time a little over two years ago.

We moved from our tiny cottage to a normal size house with a fantastic kitchen back in February of this year.

Scott turned 37 last Wednesday.

We’ve both gotten a little doughy.

I’ve gone from an almost daily yoga practice to something closer to a monthly or maybe at best weekly yoga practice since Ruthie was born.

Last month I started running again.

And so we’re back. Back from a mostly vegan weekend in Montreal, where we subsisted on poutine and bagels. Vegan. Tasty. And now we feel disgusting.

But we are finally getting back to veganism. Not totally raw though we want to eat more raw foods than we have been. And not totally vegan for me though Scott has vowed 100% for one year starting on his birthday this past Wednesday. I’m joining him but allowing myself occasionally milk in my coffee when out of the house and soy isn’t available. I hate black coffee. And yogurt. I like my probiotics though I may try to warm to the idea of non dairy yogurts one of these days. And I might occasionally eat butter. Don’t judge. Those are the rules and I’ll be sticking to them.

Ruthie will continue to be a vegetarian babytoddler (sniffle) until she’s old enough to make her own food choices.

We Made it 60 Days

Actually 59 but who’s counting.  And 60 or so days later I’m back – not raw or vegan mind you – but at least ready to think about trying to eat healthy again.

It turns out there was a reason for my ravenousness those last few weeks of eating raw…   I was pregnant.  And still am thankfully – 14 weeks today.

The first trimester came to town with its bullying friends Nausea and Fatigue that lasted from about week 6 through 13.  I still get nauseous if I don’t eat regularly – or if I eat too much.  And especially if I get anywhere near the smell of marinating or dehydrating mushrooms or kale chips.   Just typing about them makes me queasy.  So it’s mildly amusing that my last post to date was a picture of the retched culprits.  The Husband still loves them.  I have to beg for him to dehydrate them in the laundry room if he’s going to make them.

Other than fruit I haven’t had much raw food in the past two months.  A green smoothie every other week perhaps.  A raw carrot ginger soup that The Husband made me when I was laid up with a bad cold and ear infection after a trip to St. Louis.

Now that I’m feeling better and off the bedside cracker regime, I’m ready to start adding more raw foods back in.  The heatwave that’s hit the East Coast has me wanting watermelon by the pound.  I had a delicious soup made with it, ginger, cucumber, yogurt*, and mint last night – not sure what else as it was out at a restaurant – but damn it was good.  I also had some linguini* (the kind made with pasta – not zucchini – sorry folks!) with pesto and key lime pie*.

The fridge is stocked with green smoothie ingredients.  I had a coconut shake for breakfast from Lifethyme and I’ve got some watermelon, strawberries and Greek Yogurt* for later.

*Not Raw or Vegan