Sunday, January 17, 2016

Vegan Burritos

This week, we took another meal that we've seriously mastered since we got married over 5 years ago. My husband and I would eat Mexican food every day, for every meal, if it was workable. We eat out at Mexican places a lot, too, and we have honestly mastered several dishes. (We make the most amazing breakfast burrito I've ever encountered... Seriously).

So today, we made vegan "chicken" burritos. I bought a vegetable chicken substitute that really did taste pretty good! We seared that up with some salsa and dairy-free cheddar cheese to get all melty and gooey together. We filled a flour tortilla with that mixture, some flavored rice, avocado (to replace my beloved sour cream) and refried beans.

De-li-cious. While we can of course tell that there's no real cheese or chicken in the burrito, the flavors were better than expected and we both ate every bite. While I still miss the fatty flavors from real cheese and meat, I can see how the prospect of going vegan is very do-able! And those that swear by the lifestyle have been telling me that it's one of those many hurdles that just takes time to get over and get used to... So we'll keep experimenting! This week, I'm also substituting cheese in my weekly salads for beans. I can already tell that I will miss my beloved goat cheese, but it's another step. We'll see what happens!

Vegan Pasta with "Meat" Sauce

So after the first week trying to cook vegan, we decided to simplify the process a little. Instead of trying to turn a full recipe vegan, we thought we'd just take a simple dish (something we've each been cooking since we were kids) and substitute all ingredients for vegan versions.

There's not much that fits this bill better than pasta and meat sauce. Super simple to boil noodles, and throw them in a pot with some sauce and cooked ground beef, right? So all we really had to do was find a ground beef substitute, and we found some Boca "veggie crumbles" that worked really well! On top of that, I got a Vegan butter substitute, so that we could have a little garlic bread on the side.

While the coconut potato soup we made STILL sits in the fridge, being totally avoided (and probably making its way to the garbage soon), leftovers of this meal were devoured the very next day. The Boca veggie crumbles had the right texture, and adding some spices helped them to gain some of the right flavors, too. This is definitely something we could make and eat again, no problem.

So one successful vegan meal down! One baby step at a time...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Vegan Thai Coconut Soup

This weekend, I did my grocery shopping on Saturday morning. I'd planned to re-make the amazing Thai Chicken Coconut Soup that we'd loved so much last January, and I was super excited about it! Then, I flipped everything on its head by deciding to make my Sunday night meals totally vegan...

I had to scramble to make some revisions to the recipe, and ended up in the "meat alternatives" aisle at Whole Foods today, staring at the limited options available. I couldn't really find anything to sub the shrimp that we'd used last time, so I ended up going for potatoes. There were some soy "chick'n" options in the store, but most of them contained egg somehow. So I ended up grabbing the only bag that was genuinely vegan.

The meal turned out ok. It was pretty obvious that I'd scrambled to make it happen. The chicken was an odd texture, but you could kind of battle it by making sure you always had chicken and potatoes on your spoon in each bite. Potatoes was a weird choice. And I made way too many of them for this soup. I probably could have done without them totally, but then the chicken would have been too obviously weird. So maybe it was a good thing?? The soup broth was still tasty, but the vegetable broth again wasn't as flavorful as a true chicken broth. Thank goodness for coconut milk and Thai spices to make it still very edible!

It looks like we have a lot of research and work to do from here. I know that cooking one vegan meal a week should TOTALLY be do-able. There wouldn't be this huge community of people in the world if vegan food always tasted odd. We just have to figure it out on our end, and see what we can find.

Happy New Year 2016!

We spent our New Year's Eve out at Luke's Steak Place in Arvada. It was a close drive, and the food was just what we were looking for to close out the year. The restaurant wasn't as fancy as some of the previous places we'd been, but I really liked the atmosphere and more casual feel. You could tell that the place was family-run, and they just wanted to take care of you well. I really enjoyed it.

In traditional form, we also took our annual "dress-up" photo before going out. Since it's one of the only times we actually get out the dress clothes each year, I feel that it warrants a nice photo.

This year, I wasn't going to make a resolution. I was going to keep the good old "lose weight and keep it off for once" resolution to myself (mostly because it's a resolution that I struggle to keep each and every year. So sharing it with everyone was just going to be embarrassing). But it has recently occurred to me that I can make an even better resolution...

This will be the third attempt I'll make at moving toward going vegan. The first time I tried, I was successful for a while! But the cravings eventually overpowered my will, and it was hard to sustain while the hubby continued to eat cheese and meat and eggs every day. The second time, I didn't last even a week. I wasn't committed to it, and I failed fast.

For 2016, my goal is to move slowly toward this goal. For starters, we are going to cook one meal a week that will substitute any animal products with a vegan substitute. Throughout the week, the goal will be to eat healthy, and be conscious of eating animal products, but not to limit ourselves just yet. My ideal goal here is to flip the script. So by the end of the year, I'd like for us to be eating only one meal a week that includes animal product. Otherwise, all plant based foods will hopefully be the norm... We'll see how it goes. Being from the mid-west, growing up on meat and cheese at every meal, it will be difficult to step outside that box. But we tried a cashew vegan "cheese" substitute today as a snack, and we were pleasantly surprised at how good it was! So hopefully we can just continue to find great alternatives all year long. Ultimately, I just want to continue reducing my carbon footprint more and more. I just feel that if I'm not doing everything I can, then how can I feel good about passing on the state of this planet to my nieces and nephews? I at least owe them the effort, so wish us luck!!