Friday, January 27, 2012

Vegan Bakery, Anyone?

Over the past two weeks I have been experimenting with vegan baking. I have made raspberry tiramisu cupcakes, spice cake cupcakes, and carrot cake. The raspberry tiramisu needs some tweaking, but the other two were home runs, even for the non-vegans that tested them for me.

A co-worker and I have been chatting about the possibility of creating a coffee shop/bakery for the area surrounding the college since there is a market and not a lot of competition. I know it is a pie in the sky idea (vegan of course), but it is nice to dream.

My friend Deanna came over tonight and she was brave enough to try some of my vegan cuisine. In her quest to find foods that are not overly processed and contain ingredients that she can pronounce, she was interested in what went into the dinner I prepared. I made her my old stand-by.... Veggie pot pie (From Skinny Bitch in the Kitch), mashed potatoes, and "buttery green beans with almonds" (from the same book). I think she was pleasantly surprised.

Since I love baking, it is easier for me to get used to baking with vegan ingredients. Because the baking is so good, I think I am not losing weight as I would like to. Regular cupcake or vegan cupcake, it is still a cupcake and has a lot of calories.

True change is a process and I am constantly looking for ways to improve and to get closer to my ultimate goal.

Monday, January 23, 2012


I feel like I have been swept up in a whirlwind. Life is crazy busy with teaching, family, and of course delicious vegan food. Since I wrote last, I had a great dinner with Rachel and her friend. We were able to talk about food and share some tips. It was refreshing and something that I could use more of.

I have also gone to a football party where the food was mostly meat (I brought my own) and the people were not so open to my new lifestyle (I wore my thick skin). It still surprises me how much people care about what I eat. I don't say anything about how gross I think it is that they are gnawing on a chicken wing (I've hated that since before I gave up meat), why does it matter that I am eating fake meat?

All in all - things are going well. I am prepped for the week. A meal plan is in place, I have prepared all my breakfasts for the week so all I have to do in the morning is reheat my breakfast sandwich and make my smoothie and coffee. I made a fresh batch of vegan sausage from the book Vegan Comfort Food (which I love!).

I am also caught up on laundry and most cleaning. I know it doesn't seem like that has a lot to do with my vegan diet, but a cluttered house and a mile-long to do list make me less productive and therefore less motivated to keep up with the healthy changes.

Here's to a great week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Just keep on going"

I am embarrassed to say this, but my inspiration for this blog post comes from non other than an episode of The Backyardigans.

I fell off the wagon a bit today and ate something with an animal product in it. I'm not going to dwell on it because it is in the past and I am choosing to look ahead. I had to know that this transition would not be without its missteps. Being a perfectionist, that is difficult for me to wrap my head around, but I continue to work at it.

Anyway, the episode of Backyardigans was about two of the characters fighting about who was a faster racer/climber/jumper etc. The point was to get to the Mississippi River first. A third character - riding a burro instead of an elegant steed - joined the competition. While the first two characters were zooming towards the finish line, the burro's rider kept reassuring the donkey, saying, "Just keep going." In the end...big surprise... the donkey and his rider won.

I choose to model my mantra after the burro "Molasses" (appropriate, no?) and to "just keep going." Yeah, I messed up. Does that mean I have to give up? I think not.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vegan Pilgrimage

Yesterday Rachel and I went to Portland to shop at Whole Foods and eat at The Green Elephant ( It was a wonderfully relaxing trip and refreshing to be around like minded people that enjoy healthy, tasty, animal-free foods. Although I wish we lived closer to such great resources, Rachel and I are planning another trip in a couple of weeks for Vegan Fest at Whole Foods.

Despite how wonderful my day was yesterday, I came home and feel even more frustrated with my husband for his meat-loving tendencies. In my past attempts at veganism and vegetarianism, my excuse for stopping has been Matt. He has a very limited variety of foods he is willing to eat, none of which involve tofu or even vegetables. It is a difficult thing for us - to have such different ideas about food and the age old question, "What's for dinner?"

This time it is different. Although I still feel frustrated with having to cook two different meals and the faces he makes when trying my food, I refuse to give this up. It is something I need to do for myself.

Food for thought:
"If everyone became a vegetarian for just one day, the United States would save:
* 100 billion gallons of water
*1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock
*70 million gallons of gas - enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico, with plenty to spare
*3 million acres of land
*33 tons of antibiotics
* Greenhouse gas emissions equal to 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide - as much as produced by all of France
* 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages
* 4.5 million tons of animal excrement
*Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant
-According to Environmental Defense, as written in The Compassionate Diet by Aaron Stephens

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I bet you thought I was going to write about an addiction to bad food, right? Not so. I am completely and utterly addicted to cinnamon sugar kettle corn! It is a delicious snack that was introduced to me by a friend and coworker (Ashley - I know you're following my blog now :)). I ate a bowl of these crunchy bites from heaven for dinner last night and I have already eaten more today as a snack.

If you're looking for them - in the natural living section of Hannaford. Indiana Popcorn. Yum-O!

Another new addiction, again, thanks to Ashley (see a theme here?) -! What a great resource for vegan cooking and lifestyle tips.

Plop me down in front of my laptop with a bowl of cinnamon sugar popcorn and you won't hear a peep out of me for hours (and I'm not exaggerating).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Never a Dull Moment

I know I have not posted for the past few days. Never fear, I have not given up. It has been a trying few days, my plate being as full as it is, and this blog, sadly, had to take a back seat. I am able to write now because my husband (and non-vegan) has quarantined me to the bedroom for a night off from chores and other household duties. (Thank you, Honey).

I have encountered my fair share of challenges in the week with regards to my pledge to veganism. On Friday, my students earned an ice cream party for being the top collectors of non-perishible food for the food pantry. Instead of just ice cream, the PTO bought us a giant ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. Yum-O! I of course, with my will power of steel, refrained from having any. I think the kids were just excited because it meant bigger pieces for them.

Not to say that I haven't had cravings or questioned what it is that I'm doing, but this time around it is MUCH easier to hold my ground. I still can't quite put my finger on why - because I only made the year commitment? Because I have used the label 'vegan'? Because I have told everyone and their grandmother about my experiment? Regardless, I am still going strong and have not cheated (knowingly) even once.

I celebrated my first week completed and proudly told Matt, "One week down and only 51 more to go!" It would figure that this year is a leap year, but what's one more day?

For anyone looking into the vegan lifestyle or just starting out, I would highly recommend Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's book, Vegan's Daily Companion. I know I sort of made fun of it earlier, but all in all it is a great inspiration and a daily reminder of the greater good I am working towards.

Peace, love, and plant-based food!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hard Day

Had a rough day today. Between rushing here and there and having serious cravings, my day did not go well. A coworker was eating Cheese Doodles in front of me, a kid brought in cheese Pringles to share with the class for snack, and a friend was eating a candy bar at lunch time. I will say that instead of breaking and eating something non-vegan, I went to the Natural Living Center and I bought myself a delicious vegan chocolate candy bar!

Had some Tofurky and soy cheese for lunch and I really enjoyed it. Problem was that it didn't hold me over through dinner time and I needed a little pick me up. Found Lara bars at the checkout and YUM!

Here's to another day of living a vegan life :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Line in the Sand

To accompany my daily blogging and all around better eating, I am reading a book by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau called Vegan's Daily Companion. Although overall it seems to be an inspirational resource, there is something that made me laugh out loud last night.

Day 2's article was about compassionate language and the phrase, "Kill two birds with one stone". The author is of the opinion that "compassionate communicators" should not use such hostile language choices. She recommends "to cut two carrots with one knife" as an alternative.

I am not a violent person, but I do admit that I have used this phrase many times. I have even taught it to my students. I have not once thought of it as the literal meaning of the words. This might be my line in the sand.

I have been reading a lot about the vegan lifestyle for many years now and I have found a lot of people saying that it is nearly impossible to live a purely vegan life. There will be animal products in the least expected places and things will be out of our control. I read that some sugar is processed with bone char. Does that mean I will stop baking and no longer enjoy my vegan pumpkin bread? No. Every vegan or any person for that matter, needs to decide what they can live with. It is a very personal decision that only you can make. I am still learning where my lines are.

Although I understand where the author is coming from, I am of the opinion that the saying of killing two birds with one stone is used so frequently that people no longer see or hear the violence in it. I'm willing to overlook this and continue with the bigger changes I am continuing to make.

I'm off now to see what two objectives I can achieve with a single effort.

Monday, January 2, 2012


After returning to school (a day before a lot of other schools) after Christmas break, I had no lessons planned and I hadn't done any correcting, even though I dutifully brought everything home. I regretfully loaded the car this morning with the same bag and crate I proudly carried home with good intentions last week. Not only was it the first day back, it was a Monday, and my only day without any specials, which means I get NO BREAK ALL DAY. Talk about the world's longest day!

You might be asking yourself, "What does this have to do with veganism?" Well, let me tell you. I was tired, I was stressed, and the thing I usually turn to is sweets. The only sugar I had in my classroom was some Tootsie rolls. I eagerly checked the ingredients on the side of the bag in hopes for some cosmic sign that I was supposed to eat them. Alas...Tootsie Rolls, although chewy and delicious, are not vegan. They contain skim milk and are thus not on my approved foods list. Gold star for the day for avoiding the temptation of candy!

More tomorrow on "chopping two carrots with one knife." Yeah, that's right... I've got you wondering, don't I?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And Thus Begins the Journey

Today is the first day of 2012 and my first day as an official vegan. For ten years I have been reading and researching the vegan lifestyle, dabbling in the cooking and eating of vegan food and dreaming that one day I would have enough self control to adopt it as a life style. I don't think I am at that point yet, but I have committed myself to a year long experiment. I will eat a vegan diet for the next 366 days (figures I would choose a leap year!) and I will blog about my experiences and super scientific health findings.

I all seriousness, I am not a very healthy person starting off this experiment. I am overweight (obese if you ask my PCP), my blood pressure is borderline high and my triglycerides are more than double what they should be. I could take the easy way out and claim that it is all hereditary and leave it at that, but I am choosing to look for solutions. I am not completely unhealthy though. I feel the need to redeem myself in some small way. This fall I trained for and ran a 5K with my husband and I am not ashamed to say that I am the reining Just Dance champion of my friends and family.

Almost exactly one year ago, my sister in law made the switch to veganism and proudly, she hasn't looked back. She has had to endure endless teasing and many complaints from her family. With grace she has persevered and I admire her for that. She is excited for my experiments and has offered her support whenever I need it and I thank her for that. I know that this year won't be easy, but it is nice to know I have friends on my side.

I guess that's it for the first post. Nothing too exciting to report today... mostly because the start of any new lifestyle change comes with a significant amount of momentum in the beginning. The real challenge will come later and I predict it will have something to do with Cheese Doodles or milk chocolate.