Thursday, January 30, 2014

Day 30: I made it!

I still prefer the term "Whole Foods Plants Based Diet" over Vegan.
You can be Vegan or Vegetarian and still have a crap diet
filled with processed foods.

Wow, day 30 is here! Like recovery, I've been taking this one day at a time, trying not  to plan too far into the future as to not be discouraged, but my original goal was to try 30 days and assess how I feel. And you know what? I feel pretty damn good! Giving up meat was actually pretty easy. Giving up dairy was quite a bit more difficult, but I no longer crave that either. Giving up chocolate cake and oreo Blizzards might be the toughest. There will probably be a vegan chocolate cake recipe, like this, coming very soon.

What is probably the most difficult is giving up convenience, because eating a whole foods plant based diet is more work. It just is. But great things are not great because they are easy. You have to work for them.

I read that the average person only eats about eight different meals on average, varying it a bit here and there. That seems to be the case with me, before I changed my diet and now after. Back on Day 1, I made something I called "Mexican Toast." I hadn't revisted it since, so I thought I'd try it with a new twist.

Mexican Toast with a New Twist
  • Two slices of Ezekial Bread
  • 1 Avocado
  • Lime juice
  • 1/2 can of low sodium black beans
  • Salsa of your choice
  • Daiya chedder cheese
It's pretty simple, I mashed up the  the avocado in the bowl and added some lime juice. Spread that onto the Ezekial bread, cover in black beans, salsa and the Daiya cheese. Toss in the oven on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 10 min.  Bam! Simple and super tasty.

My next posts won't be coming with quite the ferocious tempo, but they'll still be coming.  Until then, I leave you with this. It's a little different than the food pyramid that the meat and dairy industry has lobbied to teach our kids and culture as a whole.

I like that there's some sunshine in this one too ;)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 29: What Else do Vegans Do?

Well as you probably know by now, I like to run. But I also like music. So instead of taking the time to write a blog this evening, I'm going to sit down with an old friend (my Grandpa's 1963 Epiphone Rivoli Bass) and play some tunes.  Happy cooking ya'll!

Left: Ephiphone Rivoli       Right: Fender Mustang

Day 28: Dazed & Confused

I've tried to go into this adventure with an open mind, and so I have to entertain the possibility that I'm missing some nutrient or possibly not taking in enough calories. The past day or so I've been forgetful and exhausted. Our baby is sleeping pretty well, so the only other thing it might be is stress from work or the fact that it's been negative a bajillion degrees for months here and we're all getting cabin fever and no sweet sweet sunshine. I'm even toying with the idea of risking leathery skin and hitting a tanning booth.

All over the web there are scare stories of vegans being B12 deficient and having "brain fog." Could this be me? I'm taking a supplement, so you'd think I'd be ok. Or maybe it hasn't kicked in yet? I'm far from an expert on how these things work. Plus it's only been a couple of days.

I'll give it another few days and see if I come around and take in some extra calories. I know there's thousands of vegans that are out there feeling great.

Update: I said "screw it" and went for a 3 mile run. I feel pretty damn good now.

Not Me Running

In the meantime, I don't know why I waited so long to learn how to properly mince garlic.  I would basically break it out of the husk and squeeze it in a press, then remove the gunk and repeat. Today I went to and wallah! I was mincing garlic like an amateur in no time!

Pro-tip of the day: Add some pineapple to your pizza for a sweet treat.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Day 27: Chipotle & The Scarecrow

Another busy day, with less cooking than I'd have liked. But you know where I can always get a decent vegan meal? Chipotle. Yep, I said it.  A bowl with brown rice, black beans, tomato salsa, corn salsa, green salsa, guacamole, fajita veggies and lettuce hits the spot every time.

But what do you think about their "movie short/commerical?"

Other than being beautifully crafted (and the song from Willy Wonka redone by Fiona Apple is AMAZING), what is it really saying? It seems the message starts by saying that the slaughterhouse and way animals are treated in the industry as a whole are inhumane (pumped full of antibiotics, warehoused, packaged), but then there is the chipotle way.

However, what is this Chipotle way? It seems to be completely plant based!? They still aren't showing the slaughtering of the free-range cows are they? I don't think they even showed any meat for the upswing ending. I think it's sort of a mixed message they are sending out. Or at least misdirection.

I have heard that they are trying a vegan meat substitute in some markets called The Sofrita. I'm not exactly sure why, when beans give you plenty of protein and then you also get free Guac, which is awesome! But if it does come here, I'm sure I'll give it a whirl and take plenty of pictures to boot!

Tip of the Day: A pal at work told me that you can get a rice and bean burrito at Chipotle for $2. Very thrifty. As of this writing however, it is unconfirmed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Day 26: Open Sesame (Noodles)!

Sesame Noodles

I'm always looking for an excuse to eat noodles, so I scoured the net and found this gem. To be honest, I didn't know what soba noodles were, so I had to look that up. Nor did I know what it meant to Julienne a carrot, so I also found that here:

Like usual, I cook with a lot of what I have on hand and modify accordingly. So for this recipe, I used the following:

  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti Noodles
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • Ground ginger, to taste
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 2-3 tbs. sesame seeds
  • 3 scallions, chopped
It's pretty easy, just combine all of the sauces and powders into a bowl, put half in a frying pan with the onion, carrots and red pepper. Once Noodles are cooked, add to frying pan and pour the remainder of the sauce on top and stir it up. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.

The result? Mixed reviews. Amber gave it an A, however, it was soy sauce heavy for me. I'd try it again by usingabout half as much soy sauce, or just go back to my standard oil and garlic.

Thanks for the support... from most of you ;)

It's strange, I gave myself 30 days to try this diet. I decided if I didn't feel better, have more energy and lose weight, I'd go back to what I've always done or try something new. Well it's been 26 days. I do feel better. I have less mood swings, less headaches, more energy (or at least I do more after work and the baby goes to bed than veg out and watch tv) like cook, blog, play music, etc... I've also lost 12 pounds to date. 

So my next goal is to keep this up though the Get Lucky 7k, Mid March. At that point I'll have my cholesterol re-checked and if everything is still improving, I'll just keep on going. After this first 30 days, I won't be blogging every day. It's a lot more work that I thought it'd be. But I'll still be adding new recipes and anecdotes weekly for sure. Thank you all for the support!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Day 25: Can I order this without...?

Wow, Day 25 already. I knew this day would come. Not day 25 specifically, but the day that I would go out to eat and not be able to pick a restaurant that might suit my chosen culinary needs. It's not a big deal. I never want to become someone that people feel they need to cater to. The chosen restaurant for this particular outing was Jake's and with the ole internet, I could at least check out the menu ahead of time and pre-eat if necessary.

Jake's Fajita Salad
However, speaking of the menu, the only vegetarian dish in it was a cheese and/or vegetable pizza. I thought about getting the veggie pizza sans cheese, but who knows what the crust is made out of and I had made my tortilla pizza for lunch. Then again, pizza twice a day sounds pretty awesome.

So what was left? Well since I'm doing a plant based diet, I should probably lean towards the plants and check out the salads. But wait, they all had meat!

No biggie, I ordered the fajita salad, without cheese and without meat. I forgot to get the dressing on the side, but it wasn't very heavy and I enjoyed it.  The salad consisted of:

  • mixed greens
  • black beans 
  • roasted corn
  • sweet peppers
  • onion
  • avocado
  • tomatoes
  • tomatillo chipotle vinaigrette
It all came in a big crispy taco bowl that I graciously let Amber eat.

So my first big test eating out was a success and aside from the food, it was great to see family and friends. What I eat doesn't have to define me in total, it's just a part of who I am. And if I can find something to eat at Jake's, I think I can do pretty well anywhere.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day 24: His & Hers Plant Powered Pizzas

His & Hers Plant Power Pizzas!

I saw a recipe for a tortilla veggie pizza floating around on Facebook and forgot to bookmark it, so I thought I'd wing it.  I grabbed some Engine 2 Sprouted Ancient Grains Tortillas (is that a mouthful, or what?) and spread on some Green Mill sauce.


Next I added some veggies:

  • broccoli
  • yellow peppers
  • yellow onion
  • green onion
  • (was going to add squash, but it was looking rather full as is)

Chock Full-O-Veggies

Then I decided to try a his (spinach) and hers (Daiya Cheese) for the final topping. Bake at 375 for 12-15 min for a nice crispy crust.



But I decided that the Daiya looked good, so...

They became His/Hers

And it was good. Really good. Next time they may become His and His pizzas.

Day 23: Best Veggie Burger in Town

I cooked up a pretty mean veggie stir-fry for lunch and didn't have it in me to search out and prepare a new recipe for dinner, so we hit up Google for the best veggie burger in town. However, in town to us means driving at most 10 minutes, so our options were severely limited. So to People's Organic we went for some take-out!

People's Organic, Edina

We both ordered the "People's Best Veggie Burger" which is vegan and consists of:

  • cashews
  • fresh veggies
  • fresh herbs
  • organic chickpeas
  • organic brown rice
  • pickles
  • organic romaine lettuce
  • sundried tomato aioli
  • organic 100% sprouted wheat bun

I won't say it was the most amazing meal I've ever had, but it was pretty tasty. The texture was more like a chicken salad than a burger patty, so that threw me off a bit. Also for the two of us, it was almost $24, which can buy a lot of groceries.  Which got me thinking, I bet we've saved a ton of money by not eating out!

People's Best Veggie Burger and Side Salad

Was it the best veggie burger in town? Perhaps not. We'll explore farther from home when the weather turns. It's a balmy -22F with windchill at the moment. But it was nice to eat a meal that I didn't prepare myself. Not to say I don't enjoy cooking my meals, I do. It's also great to know exactly what goes into my body. It was just a nice change of pace.

Must be where this veggie burger came from.

Footnote: The blog now has over 2,000 views! Thank you all for checking out what I'm up to! On a side note, I tipped the scale at 196. I can't remember the last time I weighed this little. It's been at least 5 years.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day 22: Feeling Lucky?

It's a little early to be thinking about green beer and St. Patty's day, so I was a little shocked to find my race packet and hoodie for the Get Lucky 13 7k I signed up for. The race isn't for two months!  Cool swag nonetheless :)

Sign up here:

Sautéing Veggies
So in the spirit of Green, I made my now routine spaghetti with oil and garlic, but amped up the veggies with:
  • spinach 
  • green pepper
  • broccoli 
  • onion
  • zucchini
I also knocked the oil down to one tablespoon and added a little low sodium vegetable broth to saute the veggies in. Once finished, I added the whole wheat spaghetti and squeezed some fresh lemon over the dish.

So Fresh and So Clean

Staying on the topic of green and fresh, most of you probably know, but grocery stores are laid out with the freshest food around the perimeter of the store, which is where you should do most of your shopping if you want to eat fresh. We were running low on some supplies, so I made a quick stop for some fruits, grains and veggies to eat lean and clean.

Tip of the Day: Shop the Perimeter

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Day 21: Iron, Pump it or Eat it?

Arnold "Austrian Oak" Schwarzenegger
Amber has been
taking her tips
from the Hamburgler!

Iron: Pump it or Eat it? Why not both? However, a plant based diet can be problematic, especially for women, in regards to iron. So I decided to search out some plant sources of iron, specifically for my wife, so she doesn't have to resort to sneaking burgers when I'm not around to cook for her.

Matt Ruscigno brought it to my attention via the Rich Roll podcast, and he also has a great guest writing article on Matt Frasier's No Meat Athlete page about iron that I suggest reading in full. According to Matt, some of the best plant based foods for iron are:

  • Legumes: lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans 
  • Grains: quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal 
  • Nuts and seeds: pumpkin, squash, pine, pistacio, sunflower, cashews, unhulled sesame 
  • Vegetables: tomato sauce, swiss chard, collard greens 
  • Other: blackstrap molasses, prune juice agrees and has some specifics and great tips:

Pretty Lentils
Males Iron Requirements
• 9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day
• 14 to 18 years: 11 mg/day
• Age 19 and older: 8 mg/day

Females Iron Requirements
• 9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day
• 14 to 18 years: 15 mg/day
• 19 to 50 years: 18 mg/day
• 51 and older: 8 mg/day

Non-animal iron sources:
Eating red meat and organ meat are the most efficient ways to get iron, but for vegans, obviously, that’s not going to happen. Here are 12 plant-based foods with some of the highest iron levels:
  • Spirulina (1 tsp): 5 mg
  • Cooked soybeans (1/2 cup): 4.4 mg
  • Pumpkin seeds (1 ounce): 4.2 mg
  • Quinoa (4 ounces): 4 mg
  • Blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp): 4 mg
  • Tomato paste (4 ounces): 3.9 mg
  • White beans (1/2 cup) 3.9 mg
  • Cooked spinach (1/2 cup): 3.2 mg
  • Dried peaches (6 halves): 3.1 mg
  • Prune juice (8 ounces): 3 mg
  • Lentils (4 ounces): 3 mg

Tips to get the most iron out of your food:
  • Eat iron-rich foods along with foods that contain vitamin C, which helps the body absorb the iron.
  • Tea and coffee contains compounds called polyphenols, which can bind with iron making it harder for our bodies to absorb it.
  • Calcium also hinders the absorption of iron; avoid high-calcium foods for a half hour before or after eating iron-rich foods.
  • Cook in iron pots. The acid in foods seems to pull some of the iron out of the cast-iron pots. Simmering acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, in an iron pot can increase the iron content of the brew more than ten-fold. Cooking foods containing other acids, such as vinegar, red wine, lemon or lime juice, in an iron pot can also increase the iron content of the final mixture.

Armed with all of this info, I'm sure you'll be seeing some iron fortified meals/recipes coming your way (like this Indian Lentil Soup). And while you're eating it, why not hit the weights and pump it too? Men's Health has a nice article on why it's important to lift weights, especially as we age. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Day 20: Oops, I did it again

Spaghetti with Oil & Garlic
I warned you that it might happen. I made the same dish as Day 19, but added some spinach and a little less oil. It's just so damn tasty.

Now onto new things for me. Who out there likes kale? I know you're out there. At least you say you are. Is it like beer or coffee where you might have to suffer through a hazing period before you can pretend or actually enjoy it? Because I picked up a side of the kale salad at Whole Foods, and although I got it down, it was not a pleasant experience. I tried baking kale chips a few months ago, and those were just not edible. Not it any way.  So if you have any tips, please let me know. For now, I will continue to consume my kale via smoothie form.

Not a Pleasant Experience

Also, on the recommendation of some people who have been eating plants for a lot longer than I have, I ordered a B12 supplement. Apparently, it's not actually that we need to eat animals to get B12, but we need to eat the soil or water that contains the bacteria. Our food is so clean and removed from the nutrient rich soil of yesteryear, that we no longer get the B12 from our fruits and veggies. However, other animals do eat the bacteria and store it, so when we consume them or their milk, we get B12. I am no expert, so this may be whole or in part false, but it's my understanding of it nonetheless. Feel free to peruse the world wide web, courtesy of Al gore, for more information on the topic and/or to school me. You know, or just eat a little meat. Just because I'm not, doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Just don't do this, cause it's weird:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day 19: Pastamania!?

So I'm at work, getting hangry and trying to think of something to make for dinner, when I think, "What would Hulk Hogan do?" The answer? Pasta (duh).

But I didn't want regular old spaghetti with tomato sauce. I decided I wanted spaghetti with oil and garlic. Is that even a real thing?

Apparently it is, because I found this recipe from the Food Network and about a zillion others that I didn't bother to click on. But really, 1/2 a cup of oil and no veggies? Something had to change, so I went into experimentation mode and came up with the following:

  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • couple stalks of green onion
  • Two slices of lemon

The rest is pretty easy. While you boil up some spaghetti noodles, set a frying pan to med/med-high, add in the oil, garlic, onions, peppers, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Saute until the noodles are done (8 min or so). 

Drain pasta and add to frying pan for 1-2 minutes. Serve onto plates, garnish with parsley and squeeze lemon slice to taste.

Super yummy. It's one of the few dishes I've made where I wanted more. Like a lot more!!  I'd ease up on the oil next time though.

Plated Like a Boss

    Saturday, January 18, 2014

    Day 18: It's a Nightmare! Plus a Peach/Mango Smoothie

    Deep Fried Chili Rellanos
    Last night I had a dream. A dream filled with meat and fried food. I had a juicy double cheeseburger and then went to McDonalds to pick up some Fried Chili Rellanos for some friends and I ate some of their fries on the way home. I had to look up if Deep Fried Chili Rellanos were even real. Although not available at McDonalds, to my knowledge, they certainly are real. Although you will need to look that recipe up for yourself as I can't pass it along in good conscience.

    So what does this dream mean? Am I addicted to the standard American diet and is it now rearing its ugly head in my dreams?  I used to dream of smoking when I quit cigarettes over 10 years ago. I'd wake up ashamed and beaten down until I realized I had only been dreaming.

     Am I lacking some vitamin or mineral (like B12) only attained from corn fed beef? I don't think so. I take a multi vitamin and almond and soy milk are fortified with B12.

    There is a spiritual theory that you can experience negative things in your dreams so that you don't have to experience it in real life. I may just chalk this up to that. At least in my dreams, I can eat them without the calories and negative health consequences.

    Even Grover has Bad Dreams

    So, stepping away from the fried/fatty foods, this is a tasty treat for post-workout replenishment.

    The "Garden of Life" protein powder tastes chalky to me, so
    I mix it with the one on the right.

    • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
    • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
    • 1 handful of frozen spinach
    • 1 handful frozen peaches
    • 1 handful frozen mango
    • 1 Scoop of vanilla protein powder of your liking
    • just a touch of agave nectar

    I like to blend the almond milk, spinach, protein powder and flax seed to liquify first, then alternate pulsing and blending the frozen fruit into desired consistency. Add more almond milk if it's too thick.

    Last, but not least, find an awesome glass to pour this bad boy into!

    Awesome Glass of Peach/Mango Protein Goodness

    For those of you that are interested, my workouts include alternating days of circuit training and zone 2 running for 6 days a week and rest on Saturdays, which are crazy busy at work.

    My circuit training usually looks something like this:

    No equipment or traveling? You can do
    this workout anywhere! 30 seconds on, 10 sec break.
    Active for 30 seconds/Rest for 30 seconds:

    Every Other Day I switch some of the "stations."
    • Jumping Jacks or Box Jumps
    • Cable Pull-Downs or Band Assisted Pull-Ups
    • Forearm Planks
    • Lunges
    • Reverse Grip Cable Pull-Down/Band Assisted Chin-Ups or Dumbbell Curls
    • Squats
    • Bench Press or Push-Ups
    • Opposite Arm/Leg Raises or Yoga Headstand
    • Kettlebell Swings
    • Shoulder Press or Back Flys
    • Lawnmowers or Triceps Kickbacks

    Then do it all over again. Afterwards, you can make a nice Peach/Mango Protein Smoothie to recover!

    Friday, January 17, 2014

    Day 17: In a Pinch

    It was my day off work today, which you would think would be cause for dancing in the street, but I live in MN where it feels like -19F right now and Amber took the vehicle with the car seat to work, so it really meant hanging around the house with a newly walking baby all day. I'm not complaining. She's pretty awesome. Both at walking and laughing.

    The Dish that Kinda Kicked Ass

    However, we're pretty low on groceries, and with the inability to leave the house, I had to make do with what I had. What I really wanted to do was some sort of a Thai noodle dish or take a stab at Pad Thai, but alas, no noodles to be had. However, I did have the following:

    • Brown Rice
    • Organic Salsa
    • Low Sodium Pinto Beans
    • Guacamole
    • Fresh Cilantro
    • Cumin

    I think you can figure out the dish on your own from that minimal list, but you know what? It kind of kicked ass.

    An Uncanny likeness to Gus
    Also, on a positive note, after my treadmill run this morning I attempted some yoga for the first time in nearly 6 months. I sprained and partially tore a ligament in my wrist this past summer while building a deck, which has kept me from that which I love. I had to wear a wrist brace and modify the poses a bit, but it felt really good to ease back into it. I'll be standing on my head in no time.

    By the way, have you ever tried to do yoga with your dog in the room? I don't know about yours, but Gus always tries to join in.

    The deck that did me wrong. And Gus.

    Thursday, January 16, 2014

    Day 16: Keeping it Simple

    A friend called me out on Facebook last night for having the hipster dad post of the year. It went something like this, "So here I am. I put the baby to sleep, finished my blog, put on some Elliot Smith and am cutting up strawberries for a spinach salad. My 25 year old self would be baffled. My 70 year old self is going to thank me."

    Is it hip to eat plants? That'd be great if is! And here is what I was up to:

    Keeping it Simple

    • Spinach
    • Strawberries
    • Raw Walnuts

    It doesn't get much simpler than that. Also, I fully admit to being weird. I've never cared for salad dressing. I've rarely used it my entire life, which suits me just fine. If you do want a dressing, a vinaigrette would probably go well with this.

    Also, not to leave any of you who read about yesterday's fajitas in the lurch, I managed to sneak a photo of the ingredients. I whipped out my phone, fully expecting someone with dread locks and a Whole Foods apron to tell me I couldn't do it, but that scolding never came.

    Hard Earned Recipe

    Looks pretty simple, but "Adobo Sauce" caught me off guard, so I had to search it out. The first few Google hits showed meats of varying origin and I nearly broke into a cold sweat. Did I unwittingly eat meat? That's a dirty trick Whole Foods.  Luckily, I found that it is just often used in marinating meat, mostly in Spain and Portugal. Here is a vegan recipe I found if you'd like to give it a whirl yourself. I know I'm going to:

    • 7-10 chipotle peppers, stems removed and split lengthwise 
    • Fresh tomatoes peeled, chopped and seeds removed
    • 1 cup Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
    • 1/4 cup onion, minced 
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin 
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
    • 1/8 teaspoon allspice 
    • pinch of cloves

    1. Combine all of the ingredients in a pan and simmer, covered on low for 30 minutes.
    2. Remove the lid and simmer on low for an additional 30 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
    3. Once the sauce has thickened, allow the peppers to cool and then store for later use.
    4. The sauce should keep in the fridge for about a week. Or you can freeze it for later use.
    I borrowed and modified this recipe from (changing beef broth to Low Sodium Vegetable Broth and leaving out the honey).

    The Future is Now!
    On a completely non-food related topic, for those that don't know, I'm a certified diver and absolutely love being underwater, so understandably I got a little excited about the announcement of this Star Wars-esque breakthrough. I hope that it's real and that I can get my hands on it asap!!

    According to, "It's called the 'Triton Oxygen Respirator', a small but remarkable device that will do away for the need to carry bulky tanks on dives...It's amazing function lies in the design of tiny, nano scale 'artificial Gills', a series of small strands or threads have tiny holes along their length, which are smaller than water molecules, and can effectively separate the Oxygen from the water while diving, on demand."

    But what I really want to do is this:

    So much for "Keeping it Simple."