My Vegan Experiment Day 11 – Smoky Beet Burger

Hi there:

Thursday started out in a rush as I had volunteered to be the timekeeper at an 8:00a.m seminar. What was I thinking? It was my vacation.  I’m not a morning person and I don’t even get to work that early.  But I digress.

I started out the day on the right foot.  Probably because I was still paying the price of last night’s binge on cheese pizza.  I had my warm lemon water, my green tea, and oatmeal with almond butter. Then I was off.

After the morning seminar, I returned to my room, had a blueberry, strawberry banana smoothie, and got some work done.  Around 2:00p.m., I had the black bean and corn salad I had picked up from the market earlier in the week and some of the green salad.  Feeling virtuous and back on the wagon again, I headed out to the afternoon writing seminars.

That evening, I decided to head back to the Urbanspace Vanderbilt food court in search of dinner.  I stopped at the Two Tablespoons stand and picked up a beet burger for dinner.  I was a bit apprehensive about ordering a beet burger since  I tolerate but don’t particularly love beets.  I decided to order the beet burger anyway since it has received rave reviews on Yelp and elsewhere.

OMG, to refer to that dish as just a beet burger is to do it a disservice.  The Smoky Beet & Black Bean Burger at Two Tablespoons, which is served on a whole wheat bun and topped with homemade bbq sauce, corn & cabbage salad, baby arugula and pickles, is a creation from the gods.  It has to be in the top ten of any burger I’ve ever had, with or without meat.  It had the taste and texture of a real burger and was just as satisfying.  I’d ordered a side of roasted potatoes to go with the burger, but I didn’t need them at all.  I will definitely have to get this again the next time I return to New York.

With the exception of the whole wheat bun, Day 11 was a great day for My Vegan Experiment.

Stay tuned for the revolt that happened on Day 12.

Peace,

LJ

My Vegan Experiment Day 10 – Japanese Vegan Food

Hi there:

I’ve been eating my way through New York for the past few days enjoying all the different permutations of vegan food while I continue on the Crazy Sexy You program.

On Wednesday, I got to enjoy some superb Japanese vegan food at a very nice restaurant called Hangawi at 12 East 32nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10016.

I started out my day with warm lemon water, green tea, and Abound Maple & Brown Sugar instant oatmeal made with hot water and a splash of unsweetened Silk Almond milk.  I don’t usually go for flavored instant oatmeal because it tends to have a ton of sugar and little fiber, but the Abound brand is made from whole grain rolled oats and other ingredients I could pronounce. It has 5 grams of fiber, only 6 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein (from soy protein isolates). I figured it would keep hunger at bay while I volunteered as a timekeeper at the morning workshops. It did.

I met my Dad, my baby brother, and my step-aunt at for lunch at Hangawi, a very zen-like gourmet Korean vegetarian restaurant typically frequented by businessmen, tourists and locals alike.  As we entered, we were instructed to remove our shoes and leave them along a wall near the door.  We were then led to a table where we had to climb down into the seats.  Being a big girl wearing tight jeans, it took some effort to get down there (and even more to get out), but it was worth it.  We ordered the prixe fixe lunch option and enjoyed some amazing food.  For appetizers, we enjoyed a vegetable porridge, organic wheat free kale pancakes made of rice flour, and vegetable dumplings.  The pancakes and the dumplings were paired with amazing sauces that made the dishes. The porridge, which had a bright green color, was sweet, smooth and delicious.

Dad and I enjoyed carrot juices made from scratch, while Baby Bro and auntie enjoyed homemade fruit juices. The main course was a vegetarian stone bowl rice that came with a spicy sauce. Dessert was chocolate soy ice cream.  Lunch was absolutely delicious – a zen yet vivid sensory experience of tastes, textures, sights and smells. I would recommend Hangawi to anyone.

After somehow climbing out of my seat at Hangawi, I grabbed a cab back to the hotel to volunteer at the afternoon seminar sessions.  I ran back to the room and made a strawberry, banana, and blueberry smoothie before heading back out to the opening cocktail party. I avoided the cocktails and stuck with tonic water and lime.

For dinner, I ordered in from a vegan joint called The Squeeze and had cashew “Mac and Cheese,” black bean chili, and a dark chocolate raw almond butter cup.  The mac and cheese and the chili were to die for, hitting all the right spots.  I didn’t expect the cashew mac to be so creamy and satisfying, but it was.  I could have done without the “candy” which was not so sweet and nothing like a Reese’s peanut butter cup.

Overall, Day 10 was a great day in my vegan experiment.  I had some great culinary experiences and kept it vegan. Stay tuned to find out whether Day 11 was half as successful.

Peace,

LJ

My Vegan Experiment Day 9 – Falling Off the New York Pizza Wagon

Hi there:

I have a confession to make.  It’s even worse than you think although you’ve probably already guessed that my confession involves New York pizza. Let me go back to the beginning.

I started out Tuesday on a great note.  I took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered several vegan and vegetarian eateries including Eatsa, a really cool fully automated place where you order fresh vegan quinoa bowls on an Ipad and your meal arrives in an automated box identified by number.

I discovered a nail shop and got a manicure, then kept strolling around the neighborhood until I discovered gold.  It came in the form of a food hall called Urbanspace Vanderbilt.  Located on the corner of East 45th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, Urbanspace Vanderbilt houses more than 20 eateries, including Two Tablespoons, a vegetarian pop-up restaurant that serves delicious vegan food such as macro bowls, noodle bowls made with organic soba noodles, summer rolls, and its signature beet and black bean burger.  The hall also houses Liquiteria, a fantastic juice and smoothie spot with a menu of healthy libations so large and amazing, I didn’t know where to start.

Since it was still breakfast time, I got oatmeal with hemp seeds, cinnamon and raisins, and a lemon and cucumber water from Two Tablespoons.  It was delicious and enough to hold me for hours.  I also picked up a “Mean Green” juice to take back with me from Liquiteria made with kale, spinach, mango, bananas, golden pineapple and fresh pineapple juice. Also delicious.

Tuesday was my day off  from the conference, so I got some work done in my room. Around 2:30 or so, I headed down to the Grand Central Terminal in search of lunch and a few things to stock in my tiny refrigerator from the Grand Terminal Market.  I found a soup spot called Hale & Hearty which had a vegan three bean chili I could eat for lunch 7 days a week and never get bored.  It was that good.

I picked up some staples from the Grand Terminal Market next, including fruit and spinach for smoothies, lentil, black bean, chickpea and quinoa salads for lunches, crudite and hummus. I finished up my shopping by stopping by a CVS to get bottled water, oatmeal and almond milk.

I wasn’t hungry for dinner until after 8:00p.m., but then I did something naughty.  I confess that I’d planned to do this even before I’d arrived in New York: I cheated on my vegan diet by ordering two slices of New York pizza.  I can hear the collective groans, but hear me out.

Who in their right minds comes to New York and doesn’t order pizza, bagels and Chinese food? There are New York transplants all over the world wishing they could come back here just to have those things one last time.  I am not alone.

I had to get the urge out of my system and check it off my list, so I ordered the pizza and enjoyed the heck out of it last night.  Unfortunately, after going gluten and dairy free for the past week, the pizza didn’t like me half as much as I liked it.  I definitely felt the difference in how the food affected me and was bloated and gassy for a while.

Stay tuned tuned to find out whether I, like so many before me,  fell into a slippery slope of cheating, or if I got back on the wagon in Day 10 of my vegan adventures.

Peace,

LJ

My Vegan Experiment Day 8 – Vegan Thai Food

Hi there:

I started out Monday in a rush.  It was the day I attended a special seminar at FBI Headquarters in New York held for those lucky attendees of Thrillerfest 2017 who were quick enough to sign up for the event before it sold out. The seminar started at 9:30 a.m., but we were instructed to arrive between 8:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m. to allow enough time to get through security.

I didn’t have time to get breakfast before I left the hotel, but I found a Starbuck’s across the street from the Federal Building and got some oatmeal and a cold almond vanilla chai tea latte.  I tossed the brown sugar and used a packet of stevia and the raisins that came with the oatmeal instead.

While FBI forensic specialists talked to us about firearms, fingerprints and DNA, I drank green tea and a liter of water, and snacked on the walnuts that came with the oatmeal.

The program ended at 2:00 p.m., by which time I was starving.  After taking a train back to the hotel, I stopped in Grand Central Station and picked up something for lunch. Since I can’t remember what, it couldn’t have been anything to write home about. I just remember that I’d kept it light and vegan.

Dinner, thankfully, was an entirely different story.  I ordered in vegan thai food from a nearby restaurant that was fantastic.  I had vegetable pad thai made with rice noodles and steamed vegetable dumplings. That’s the meal depicted in the photo. I was a happy woman chowing down on that.

I ended the night with a cup of hibiscus tea and slept the sleep of the angels. All in all, I would call Monday a success in terms of sticking with the program.

I can’t say the same for Tuesday though.  Stay tuned for more vegan adventures.

Peace,

LJ

My Vegan Experiment Day 7 – Traveling While Vegan

Hi there:

I was sitting at the airport bored out of my mind when I started this post. My flight was delayed by a couple of hours.

In my rush to finish packing and get to the airport, I didn’t have time for breakfast.  I thought it would be hard on a gluten free vegan at the airport and that I’d probably have to wait until I got to NYC before I could find something “legal” to eat. I’m happy to report that I was wrong.

I grabbed some steel cut oatmeal at a “Food Network” restaurant  at the airport. It came presweetened and I should have tossed the nasty tasting dried fruit on top but otherwise it was fine. I also grabbed a vegan Nugo Organic Double Dark Chocolate Protein Bar. Its soy based and boasts 10 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Unfortunately, it also has 15 grams of sugar making it more like a candy bar. I didn’t know that Food Network had restaurants. I’m probably just late to the party.

Needless to say, the replacement plane (the original aircraft had maintenance issues) did not arrive at 12:30pm. It was after 4:00pm when we landed at LaGuardia and then we sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes before deplaning.

They had limited options for lunch on the flight. I should have opted for the kale salad and water. Instead, I ended up buying a vegan and gluten free snack box with hummus, Mary’s Gone Crackers, a gluten free pastry and a chocolate snack bar. I also scarfed down a bag of chips.

Having only had oatmeal and essentially sugary junk food all day, I was starving by the time I got to my room. That process was prolonged by the fact that the front desk first sent me to a room that was already occupied by someone else.  When I opened the door and saw someone else’s open suitcase inside, I calmly backed out and headed to the front desk. They upgraded me to a larger room with a King-sized bed without charge.

After unpacking, I headed down to the Grand Central Terminal in search of a vegan dinner. I ran across a vendor selling Indian food and ordered vegetable rice, chickpea curry and a spicy cabbage mix. It was so good.

I later whipped out the electric kettle I’d brought with me, made myself a mug of hibiscus tea, and settled down with Echoes in Death* by Nora Roberts.

Today (this post is late) was my trip to FBI Headquarters. I’ll let you know how that went in my next post.

Peace,

LJ

*This is an Amazon affiliate link.  If you click on it and buy something, I will get a small commission.  You should know that I only recommend products I enjoy myself.

My Vegan Experiment Day 6 – The Ninja Pro Blender

Hi there:

I have a confession to make.  I’m in love.  It’s real this time, I swear (my friends are all rolling their eyes).  With whom, you ask? Well, it’s not exactly a who.  It’s more like a what.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  I’m talking about being in love with the Ninja Pro* Blender I bought last night on the way home from work.

Do you remember how, a few posts ago, I declared that I didn’t like putting hemp seeds in my smoothie because I didn’t like crunching my smoothies?  Well, I don’t have that problem anymore.  The Ninja Pro* made mincemeat (more like liquid) out of those hemp seeds and the spinach stems and anything else I put into that bad boy today.

I had the most delicious, smooth and creamy smoothie for breakfast this morning made with a frozen banana, spinach, almond milk, hemp seeds, almond butter and vanilla vegan protein powder (I went a little crazy there with the protein sources). The nifty gadget even makes juice! This afternoon, I made myself the most fantastic juice out of strawberries, grapes, celery and cucumber. You know the Ninja Pro will make the trip with me to NYC, along with my electric kettle, bagged portions of CSY trail mix, almond butter, oatmeal, hemp seeds, protein powder and other survival gear.

For lunch I had a salad made of arugula, cherry tomatoes, English cucumber, green peas, and mixed veggies, topped with the second mushroom burger I’d purchased from Whole Foods.  For dinner, I’m having more of the lemony lentil soup.  Yum.  I’ll have to make another pot of that when I get back.

I ran around like a madwoman making preparations for the trip to NYC which included cleaning my kitchen and finding creative ways to store what produce I have left so that it doesn’t go bad while I’m away (I can freeze grapes, right?).

The CSY program is not just about diet, although my obsession with vegan food probably led you to believe that.  Kris Carr also wants us to meditate at least three times a week and to move our buns for at least 20 minutes a day 3-5 times a week.  I meditated today and did a 20 minute Qijong workout.  I have to say that, despite the packing and the cleaning and the clothes washing,  I feel energized and relaxed at the same time.  My body just feels good.

I got on the scale today and it said I weighed 3.0 lbs less than the last time I got on it. That can’t be right.  I can’t be down 8 lbs in a little over a week.  I’m going to get on another scale and weigh myself just to be sure.

Peace,

LJ

*These are Amazon affiliate links.  If you click on it and buy something, I will earn a small commission.  You should know that I only recommend products that I use myself.

My Vegan Experiment Day 5 – Vegan Bowls

Hi there:

Today is Day 5 of my vegan experiment in the Crazy Sexy You program and I’m still not hungry.  I really expected to be hungry, have mad cravings and be grouchy as a result of not eating meat or drinking coffee or having dairy or gluten.  But, strangely enough, that is not the case. Instead, I discovered a whole new way of eating: to wit, vegan bowls.

Vegan bowls can contain as many elements and combinations of vegan fare as you can imagine.  Today, I had an Udon noodle bowl for lunch that contained rice noodles, baby bok choy, cucumber, bell pepper, toasted sesame oil, chopped peanuts, cilantro, sesame seeds, and a “firecracker” dressing.  I’d picked it up last night at a local vegan restaurant. It was quite tasty and kept me full until my late afternoon snack of carrots and hummus.

For dinner, I had a “coconut grain bowl” from the same restaurant for dinner. It contained carrot , chickpeas, cabbage, bell pepper, coconut oil, brown rice, tamari, coconut milk, shiitake bacon, and kefir lime.  It was delicious! Tamari is not gluten free, however.  Next time, I’ll bring them my bottle of coconut aminos and ask them to use that instead.

I had wanted to start out my day with more of the almond banana oatmeal I’d ranted about last night, but I discovered, much to my dismay, that I am out of rolled oats. I stopped at Starbucks on the way in to work and got their oatmeal and a vanilla almond Chai tea latte.  I forgot to order the drink skinny (i.e. unsweetened). OMG, it tasted sweet enough to kill people it had so much sugar in it. I don’t remember it tasting that way before.  It could be that my tastebuds are getting more sensitive.  I won’t make that mistake again.

When I got to work, I stirred a tablespoon of almond butter into the oatmeal and added a packet of stevia and some raisins.  It was good, but not as good as the CSY oatmeal recipe.

My vacation trip to NYC is imminent.  Since I only have tomorrow to pack and prepare, I stopped at Walmart on my way home and picked up an electric kettle (the hotel I’m staying at has a refrigerator but not a microwave or a coffeemaker) and a Ninja Pro blender.  I plan to stock the room refrigerator with fruits, veggies, greens, and almond milk, and use that to make smoothies and green drinks while I’m away.  I also plan to bring some oatmeal packets and almond butter and CSY trail mix with me so I always have healthy snacks and breakfast options.

I’ve already scoped out some cool vegan restaurants in NYC, two of which are near my hotel, where I can get “legal” food for lunch and dinner.  I plan to drag my Dad and my stepmom to a vegan restaurant in Greenwich Village that specializes in Latin cuisine (she’s Mexican and he’s Panamanian), and my sister to a Korean vegan joint that I can’t wait to try out.  Trust NYC to take Vegan to a whole new level.

Ah well, it’s past my bedtime and I have a writers group video conference at 10:00a.m. Stay tuned as I’ll be blogging about my NYC food adventures each day over the next week.  They are bound to be interesting.

Peace,

LJ

My Vegan Experiment Day 4 – Almond Banana Oatmeal

Hi there:

So, it’s day 4 of following Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy You program and my seventh day of not having coffee. I’m happy to report that I haven’t killed or snapped at anyone yet. In fact, I haven’t been hungry and I don’t even really miss meat all that much.  I miss how easy it is to throw together a lunch with a meat protein at the forefront, but I don’t really miss meat per se.

I started out the day with CSY’s recipe for almond banana oatmeal made with almond butter, almond milk, banana and cinnamon.  OMG, it was so good that I’m going to want to eat that for breakfast 7 days a week. Who knew?

The one thing that’s already getting old is all the meal prep required on this program.  I’m going to have to prep more on the weekends to make this work and make a list of places I can grab ready made to go vegan meals I like.

This morning, I was a meal prep machine.  I dumped the ingredients for the oatmeal into one pot and warmed the lentil soup in another while I measured out trail mix, hummus, baby carrots and gluten free crackers and placed them in containers and baggies.  I did my hair then poured the hot soup into one thermos for lunch, poured the oatmeal into another, and packed them, my snacks and a tablespoon into my lunch bag. I ate the oatmeal at stoplights while driving to work and had the soup and crackers for lunch.

Unable to face cooking tonight, I stopped by a vegan restaurant and ordered a vegan burger on gluten free bread and two vegan bowls.  I’ll take one of the vegan bowls to lunch with me tomorrow and have the other bowl for dinner.

Even though I had green tea instead of coffee, I felt more alert today than I’ve felt in a long time.  It’s like someone turned on a switch inside me and the fog lifted away.

I got on the scale this morning and I was four pounds down.  I suspect it’s all water weight since I finally picked up my diuretic medication from the doctor yesterday. One of my coworkers mentioned that I looked like I was losing weight in my face – in particular under my chin.  I looked in the mirror and I see what she means.  It could be my hairstyle, but I think do look a bit younger or something.  It’s only been four days.  We’re probably imagining things.

Overall, it was a good day, although I cheated with a gluten free coconut chocolate chip cookie.  I did, however, resist the temptation to eat the pizza served at the board meeting I attended today. Baby steps.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. I’m pretty sure it will bring more of that almond banana oatmeal.

Peace,

LJ

My Vegan Experiment Day 3 – The Quinoa Chronicles

Hi there:

I just realized tonight that I didn’t blog last night about day 3 of my vegan experiment which I refer to as the quinoa chronicles. I guess that’s because I was so tired when I got home.  I was also a bit frazzled because I ended up having my weekly coaching session with my coach in my car.  I left work late and I didn’t dare miss another session so I ended up dialing her digits while driving home from work.

The reason I call yesterday the quinoa chronicles is because I’ve now categorically decided that I don’t really like quinoa – at least not in a salad.  I don’t like the texture. It’s always a bit dry and crunchy and tasteless to me.  Maybe I just haven’t had it prepared correctly. I do like it when I make fried quinoa and kale cakes out of the frozen quinoa and kale packets I buy from Costco. In the past, I’ve used an egg to bind the cake.  I’ll have to find another way now.  But I digress.

The day started out with a smoothie.  Instead of using hemp seeds, I substituted some Legion Thrive Vegan Protein Milk Chocolate Flavor* instead and some PB2 Powder since I was not in the mood to crunch my smoothie.  I had to use a fresh (as opposed to frozen) banana since my freezer door apparently was not closed all the way and the bananas had defrosted. I did, however, find some still frozen raspberries which I threw into the blender along with a packed cup of spinach.  The smoothie turned out quite tasty despite the fact that the protein powder and the PB2* clumped instead of being distributed evenly.  It was still good when I had the second half yesterday afternoon.

For lunch, I had the salad I’d ordered from a vegan restaurant the night before.  It was hardcore with kale, parsley, sunflower seeds, blueberries, quinoa, tomatoes, quartered beets and an oily vinaigrette.  I won’t be ordering that again.  I didn’t love the quinoa, the large beet chunks, or the oily dressing.  I did enjoy the rest of the veggies and the mushroom burger I’d thrown on top which I’d purchased from Whole Foods.  Unfortunately, they used regular breadcrumbs to bind the burger so it wasn’t gluten-free.

For dinner, I had the leftover cashew cream gluten-free pasta and I was a happy child. I was also full and climbed into bed earlier than usual.  Instead of sleeping though, I listened to a Periscope presentation on marketing for coaches.

All in all, it was a good day and I kept it vegan, if not gluten-free. I cheated only a little bit by having four squares of Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate* for dessert. Since it’s 70% dark chocolate and chock full of antioxidants, it’s practically a health food anyway.

Peace

LJ

*These are Amazon affiliate links.  If you click on them and buy something, I will get a small commission.  You should know that I only recommend products and services that I myself use.

My Vegan Experiment Day 2 – Avocado Toast

Hi there:

Today was day 2 of my vegan experiment on the Crazy Sexy You program.  The day was supposed to start off with lemon water, green tea, green juice and avocado toast. It was also supposed to end with me hanging out with my best friend and others at her home on South Beach; however, life rarely works out according to plan.

I woke up this morning with a terrible headache and incredible nausea.  I managed to prepare lemon water, but couldn’t keep it or anything else down for much of the day. Needless to say, I did not head to South Beach this evening, nor did I enjoy more of the creamy cashew pasta from last night.

On a hunch, I checked my blood pressure this morning and discovered that it was quite high.  I took my medication, but couldn’t keep it down either. Luckily, I started to feel better this afternoon and, by 3:00p.m., I was able to keep some Yogi lemon ginger tea* down.

Afraid to have the pasta, I made a pot of lentil soup that is also a part of the Crazy Sexy You recipes.  It came out really well.  More importantly, it stayed down.

Feeling a bit sorry for myself I ordered in for dinner, but kept it Vegan.  Specifically, I had hummus, guacamole and chips.  I also ordered a salad that was heavy on the beets, but decided to brave that for lunch or dinner tomorrow instead.

Although the day was not ideal, I’m glad that I didn’t go completely off the reservation in terms of food.  It’s also probably a hidden blessing that I stayed in tonight for I surely would have been tempted to imbibe cocktails and non-Vegan fare (my bestie makes a mean cocktail and is a great cook).

Anyway, I’m not a big avocado lover (I think I ate too many of them as a child), so I wasn’t really looking forward to the avocado toast.  The guacamole was very tasty though.

Let’s hope that I don’t wake up feeling like I did this morning.  If I do, I’m heading straight to the doctor before work.  Let’s see what tomorrow has to bring in this crazy adventure.

Peace,

LJ

*This is an affiliate link for the Yogi lemon ginger tea at Thrive Market.  If you click on it and shop at Thrive Market, I will earn a commission if you decide to stay with them after the 30 day free trial and you’ll get 25% off your first order. You should know that I only recommend products, services and sites that I use myself.