30 Days To Vegan

Vegan

This past Tuesday, I started a 30 day vegan challenge. For the next 30 days, I won’t be eating any meat, dairy or eggs. Yes, I’m aware that Christmas falls within the next 30 days, which I hadn’t really realized when I first decided to embark on this challenge, but it doesn’t matter. As my mom pointed out, if I can make it through Christmas eating vegan, I can make it through anything.

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost four full years now, though during that time I ate fish or seafood on occasion. I’ve always been of the belief that doing something imperfectly is better than doing nothing perfectly, so though sometimes I didn’t totally fit the strict vegetarian label, I still considered myself a vegetarian.

The Why

I initially stopped eating meat after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The ethical and health implications of factory farming truly disturbed me, and I no longer felt comfortable with my eating choices, so I stopped cold turkey (ha!). Even with my convictions, for the better part of a year I still made a couple of exceptions – once for McNuggets (ugh, I know right?), another time for my mom’s homemade barbeque ribs.

I share this to illustrate that sometimes despite my beliefs, I have a hard time accepting change in my life, as I think we all do sometimes. For the last four years, I’ve known that I don’t believe in eating seafood (mainly because of bycatch effects and the toxicity of farmed fish), and yet I still occasionally did, when I willfully ignored the things I already knew.

And for four years, I’ve known there are major problems with eating dairy (for example, the hormones in dairy products, the potential link between meat and dairy proteins and serious disease such as heart disease and cancer, the treatment of dairy cows and chickens) and that eating less dairy is probably healthier for humans. And yet for four years, I willfully ignored the things I already knew, mostly because I didn’t want to seem radical or militant or like a hippie or just plain extreme, which is the way our society tends to see vegans.

But I know the things I know, and it doesn’t sit right with me to ignore those things anymore. I want to strive to live in a way that fits with my values and beliefs, so I want to strive to eat healthier for me and for the planet. And in my opinion, the best way for me to do that is to eat a vegan diet of mainly whole foods. I should note that I certainly don’t judge anyone for their personal choices.

Vegan22

The What

I decided to start with a 30 day challenge because the idea of going without eggs for the rest of my life is too terrifying to contemplate (say what you will, but it is what it is!). I’m going to start with 30 days to prove to myself that I’m capable of eating this way, but I’m aiming to keep it up once the 30 days are up. The hashtag I’m using to share my meals and track my progress is #30DaysToVegan, which to me implies progress towards a goal, not a set number of days.

So far it’s been fun and remarkably easy to eat vegan. I’ve been collecting lots of inspiration for vegan recipes on Pinterest, and I’ve been happy to see that it’s easy to slightly modify some of my favourite meals to avoid dairy (and keep all the taste). My family have been really supportive: for example, my mom has made me a meal or two already, and my dad uncomplainingly ate the nutritious but slightly bland curry I made him for dinner. They might not totally understand, but they accept me and my choices, which is a wonderful feeling. That’s the most important thing to me.

The How

I’ll be posting weekly progress updates over on Guinea Pigging Green, and I’ve been trying to post at least one photo of my (vegan!) food on our Instagram, @GreenGuineaPigs, every day. You’re more than welcome to follow along or even join in!

xo,

Steph

Zucchini Fritters

It’s late, midnight. I just finished work, the leftovers of a bag of SunChips, and am working on a raspberry lime slushee. I’m currently extremely far from any pinnacle of health and/or good eats. I am! It’s true.

But considering that I’m going to see my family tomorrow (today, when you’re reading this!), I’m doing a happy dance, and an “I don’t care” dance. It’s Friday! It’s vacation! It was a hard shift! At the same time, I’m going to see my mama tomorrow, and I gotta prove to her that processed junk isn’t all I eat.

So I give you zucchini fritters. These things are good, good, good. They’re gorgeous too, slightly browned yet bright green, and topped with bright white sour cream. The sour cream makes them irresistible. Just speaking from experience here.

The key to a good zucchini fritter is explained over at Smitten Kitchen: it’s to squeeze out as much zucchini juice/liquid as possible before combining the pulp with the other ingredients. This important process helps them get crispy! I used a cheesecloth, and was thoroughly amused by how much liquid I got out of those zucchini. Zucchinis? Whatever.

These made a perfect lunch, but I bet they’d make a lovely vegetarian brunch option as well!

The recipe is here. Enjoy! I’m off to get my beauty rest. X’s and O’s. Happy day.

Favourite Nachos

There’s this tiny little vegetarian restaurant very close to where I live. It has delicious food, great music, and uses old desks as its tables – desks whose drawers are stuffed to the brim with hangman games, poems and quotes. It’s one of my favourite places to go out to eat because it’s both cheap and delicious, without being fast food.

Last week, I was craving their nachos – a mile-high plate of colourful veggies, tortilla chips and other assorted yum-yums. But since I’m on a strict, self-imposed, (slightly flexible) ban on going out for dinner, I decided to try and recreate them at home. To great success! Not only was the process quick & simple, the product was downright delectable.

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Apple Pie

A word up front: this pie is VEGAN.

Ooh, big scary words. Them’s fightin’ words.

Let me assure you, however, that this is one of the most delicious pies I have ever consumed, ever. Period. Vegan or not, it was marvellous, delicious, outstanding. I ate it warm out of the oven, giggling away in delight. Om nom. Nom.

So, why vegan? Well, for one thing, the boyfriend is lactose intolerant. And for another, why the heck not? I’ve been trying to move myself in the vegan direction for quite a while now, with little success (Damn you cheese. Why do you have to be so irreplaceable?) but I’ve been perusing some fantastic websites lately, like Vegan Dad and Vegan Yum Yum that are giving me tons of delicious inspiration. I may be throwing some more awesome vegan recipes at you in the very near future, so if you’re a squeamish carnivore: watch out! Rawr.

But for now, please just make this wonderful pie.

I used two recipes in hybrid: Joy the Baker’s With Love, Apple Pie for the apple prep + Savvy Vegetarian’s Vegan Pie Crust

I rolled out my pie crust with a wine bottle, since my mother refused to buy me a rolling pin at the beginning of the year since, when she was in university, she rolled things out with a wine bottle. Granted, I think her wine bottle would have been a) empty and b) had the label removed. Since my wine bottle had neither, it is a miracle that this pie turned out at all. I was so afraid that at any second its cheap twist-on lid would somehow pop off and turn my pastry red..and winey..

Here we go!

First things first: obtain some apples. I know that so many apple pie recipes specify not to use McIntosh apples, but since they were accidentally all I bought, and since I was fighting a cold and just wanted some apple pie, damnit, I decided to risk potential mushiness and go ahead with my macs. Verdict: not mushy! Delish! I don’t know if that was just good luck on my part, but I loved the consistency of the pie using these babies.

Here I am! Looking my best, as usual..peeling some apples.

Ta-da! Yummo. Now slice those babies up into small, equal slices.

Like so. Now go ahead and toss them with 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup each of brown and white sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp salt.

‘OOH, HEAVEN IS A PLACE ON EARTH’

Pause here to eat several slices. Consider the possibility of giving up on the pie entirely and just eating these.

Fine. We will continue. Reluctantly.

Now here is where I differed from Joy the Baker’s recipe: she uses a cool technique of caramelizing the apple juices with butter, which I was too exhausted to attempt. Instead, I just mixed the apples with a couple tbsp of flour (I didn’t have cornstarch, my grocery store seems to be, for all intents and purposes, hiding it from me, along with cornmeal. Both are probably hiding together in the same aisle, giggling as I walk past for the fortieth time..) and let them hang out while I made the pie crust. Which was awesome. And easy.

Around this time, preheat the oven to 425 and put a cookie sheet inside! This is a special trick I just recently learned from Joy the Baker. I think it helps to cook the pie from the bottom as well as the top. Who knows. All I know is, it works.

For the pastry: I didn’t have Earth Balance, so I used Becel Vegan margarine. Same diff. I stuck 1 cup of it in the freezer for about 1/2 an hour, and chilled my 2 1/2 cups flour in the freezer as well. That’s what the recipe said to do!

Basically all you need to do for this recipe is mix the margarine with the flour until its crumbly, then add a few tbsp of cold water until it all sticks together and you can form a ball with your hands. Then plop it down onto the floured counter, whip out your wine bottle and go at it. Unfortunately, I did not take photos of me rolling out the pie crust with a wine bottle. I will leave that up to your imagination.

PRESTO!

Fill the pie shell with apples and any juices, roll out the top crust, put it on top, crimp the edges so they look pretty.

Then cut some vents in the top. I was feeling lovey dovey so I cut out hearts.

..It sort of ended up looking like a creepy mask. I was okay with that. Mainly, it was cute.

Guys, it was really cute! Okay??

I sprinkled some sugar on the top, but didn’t have a brush to brush it with egg wash or water. I was okay with that too.

Now take the baking sheet out of the preheated oven, put the pie on top of it, put it back in. For 45-55 min. Warning: your entire house will start to smell absolutely divine. Resist the urge to yank the pie out of the oven and eat it as is, immediately. I promise, it’s worth the wait.

Ooh la la.

My apartment seriously smelled like apples and cinnamon for like 3 days.

So delicious.

The pastry is delicious and flaky, the apple juices were bubbling, and the apples actually held their form, despite being McIntoshes.

YUMMO.

Okay, I’m off to have my eighth slice.

I would also like to say: I just forgot how to spell eighth. Thank goodness for spell check. I don’t know how the cavemen did it.

xoxo,