“Meat Me in the Middle”

After emerssing myself fully into the Vegan lifestyle there was obviously something else missing… Meat! In my house we used to have some type of meat or chicken with vegetables and rice or something along those lines. We would either go out for wings or burgers. Thinking about it makes my mouth water. So, here are some suggestions that I found for a replacement to meat and chicken.

1.) Jack Fruit– This magical “fruit” that I’ve never ever seen before in my life and is enormous! This fruit here grows in South Asia which is another reason why I’ve never seen this before. The good thing is that if you have an Asian market around you can find this in fruit form or you can look for the jackfruit in can also. Jackfruit has the same texture as “pulled pork” which is why this little fruit has helped my husband with his pork fix. (Recipes to follow) sweet-jackfruit-pieces-today-stock-inline-170111_161effb635290b78dbc9fe142a9c1463.today-inline-large.jpg

 

2.) “Beyond Meat”- This company has many different “meat” and “chicken” products available. I’ve had the crumbles and can say it’s amazing! I had this when I wanted spaghetti with bolognese sauce and it tastes exactly the same as ground beef or better! The “Burger patties” are probably mine and my husbands’ favorite. They look exactly like regular burgers and offer lots of protein at the same time. If you love grilled chicken on your salad or on a sandwich they have differnt flavors of “chicken” and they’re all pretty darn good! http://beyondmeat.com/products

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3.) Tempeh: Which is a traditional soy product and It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to Tofu. It can take many different forms and flavors depending on how you cook it. It’s not the best thing to look at but it’s really yummy I think.

4.) Cauliflower- You can make cauliflower into anything really… I’ve made Beer battered cauliflower tacos and they were a hit I’ve even had Cauliflower General Tso’s for those nights I crave chinese food.

Now if you’re looking for Sausage and peppers type of deal I’d suggest using Field Roast, these are as close as you’re gonna get for a great sausage experience. My favorite is the Chipotle sausage because I’m a fan of spicy sausages. The Italian one is perfect for sausage and peppers. Field-Roast-Sausage-Links.jpg

If you’re looking for hotdogs they have them too as well as breakfast sausages if you’re into that kind of stuff.

My husband is a fanatic for ham and cheeses so I had to do some searching and taste testing for “deli slices” and here’s what I found:

Tofurky:  Just as the name suggests it’s made with tofu… This is something I was super hesitant about. I’m not a fan of tofu AT ALL… It looks gross and there’s something about the texture I just am not a lover of… unless it’s in a miso soup sometimes. However, when I was looking for something to substitute as deli meat I found this one and decided to give it the college try… and… It wasn’t bad AT ALL. There is the issue of the “look” of the deli slices but once you get over that then it’s really not that bad at all. They have different types too so it’s not just one boring slices. http://www.tofurky.com/what-we-make/deli-slices/smoked-ham/

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For the Love of Cheese!

My love of cheese was the hardest thing to give up during my change of diet. However, I found comfort in these new cheeses:

1.) “CHAO” Field Roast-this company makes 3 different types of cheeses as you can see from the photo below. My husband is a fan of the Tomato Cayenne slices it because it has a little kick at the end. I’m a fan of the Creamy Original because I love grilled cheeses. These cheeses are found at “DeCicco’s”, “Mrs. Green’s” “Trader Joes” or any other health food market around and are usually kept in the Vegan section or fridge. These cheese slices cost around $5 and are all Non-GMO and Non-Dairy. I give these cheeses a 5 star rating. http://fieldroast.com/chaostory/

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2.) “Follow Your Heart”– This company makes cheese alternatives, spreads, dressings, and vegenaise. They’re cheeses come in slices and blocks too. I am a huge fan of their shredded Parmesan cheese and they’re mozzarella. When I first picked up the shredded parmesan my heart jumped for joy because I used to go to the fridge and just eat shredded parmesan straight out of the container. This Parmesan tastes just like the regular one. Now, when I saw the mozzarella there, I had mixed feelings because in my head I thought “how could anything really resemble mozzarella?” but the other night I cut up some pieces, sliced up some tomato and basil and bam it was amazing! I have yet to try their slices but they have so many different cheeses I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time. https://followyourheart.com/

 

3.) “Go Veggie”– I found this cheese when I was planning a trip to the beach… Yes, the beach. I like to take cheese and crackers with me to the beach or really anywhere I go if I can. This company has slices which are perfect for burgers, sloppy joes, and grilled cheeses, they also have a grated parmesan cheese option for your spaghetti and the best thing is their individually wrapped serving of cheese, perfect for the beach, pool or just snacking on. They also have shredded cheeses which are pretty amazing also! http://www.goveggiefoods.com/

 

4.) “Daiya”– Cream Cheese!!! Because who doesn’t enjoy a nice toasted bagel with cream cheese in the morning?! This cream cheese is so good and if the husband is a fan of it then I know it’s a winner in our house!  It’s soy free, casein free and lactose free! 90 Calories and Cholesterol Free. Now I’m a plain type of girl but they also have Chive & Onion, and Strawberry flavors. Daiya also offers, shredded cheeses, cheese blocks, pizzas, Yogurts, Cheesecake, salad dressings and they even boxed mac and cheese. https://daiyafoods.com/our-foods/cream-cheese-style-spreads/plain/

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As you can see I haven’t really experimented too much in this department mainly because I found what I loved and kind of just stuck with those products for the moment. My next entry (on Monday) will be on meats and eggs because I can’t live without those either. I hope this was helpful!

 

 

The Big Change

The day finally came when something snapped in me. I was sitting on the couch at home late at night looking for something to watch since Orange is the New Black was done. I was scrolling and then I saw it “What the Health?” a documentary about food. I was nervous when I first clicked on the play button. “Will I regret this in the morning?, will I even really care? Will I run to the deli in the morning and order an egg and cheese on roll without really even thinking twice?”

So, I watched it.. All… Even the gross parts with my eyes open. Needless to say, I woke up the next morning, opened my fridge looked at it and saw, eggs, chicken, turkey bacon, and a boatload of cheese… and thought, “this is it! I have to cut all this out of my diet.” I started this journey of weeding out (slowly) all the dairy out of my diet because I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be eating it to begin with (according to my doctor). It was not an easy task and my husband wasn’t too thrilled to say the least. I started doing a plant-based diet that week to see how I felt, this was more of a “trial period” for me. I’m not a fan of “trending diets, or fads” so I didn’t want to seem like one of those people.

First thing I noticed, I wasn’t using my rescue inhaler as much as I was before. Second thing I noticed, I wasn’t in a “fog” at work and wasn’t sluggish during the day it was quite the opposite I felt like how I used to feel when I played sports. My husband who is my support system and always pushes me also felt the same way and when he said that, I knew I was on to something. The third thing I noticed was my face clearing up from the acne that my PCOS also contributes. I was hooked.

We started the transition to Vegan… I never in a million years thought I would EVER say “excuse me sir, do you have anything that’s vegan on your menu?” I prepared myself for the looks, the comments and the “oh is this another one of those diets to lose weight?” from friends and family. I prepared myself to give some answers. My first experience, my mother-in-laws birthday party… Steaks and chicken on the grill, hot dogs, cheese.. the works! Naturally, my husband was still slowly transitioning and so was I, I opted for bean tacos with no cheese, and when I got the question “you don’t want a piece of steak? or chicken?” “Not even cheese? It’s your favorite!” I answered with an excuse “No thank you, I’m not feeling so great and just want some beans to hold me off for now.” I suck I thought to myself.

Lucky for me my sister in law was also trying to stay away from dairy, poultry and meat so I didn’t feel so awkward. Later on, I faced my mother and had to tell her that I was trying to change my diet and her response “well, when did this happen? and why?” as she ate her salmon. My response “I have to do this for me and my health and I’m already feeling better.” My sister, at least she sort of understands it and replied with the best answer to my mother at the table “Because Mom! It’s not vegan or gluten-free!” I love her for being so blunt.

So, here I am 2 months in I’ve gone to BBQ’s, the beach, birthday parties and a baby shower and I’ve survived! I’ve done A LOT of research, read plenty of articles and made a commitment to myself to keep going. It’s hard and I’ve thought plenty of times it’s stupid, it’s too hard, or it’s pointless… but the truth is, you have to work hard at things in order to succeed and see the benefits. Now that I’ve bored you with my background I will share some recipes and some products that have helped our transition into veganism a little bit easier to deal with.