I’ve had quite a few surprisingly awesome vegan discoveries this week.

– Homemade cashew cream cheese
– cashew cheese pizza sauce (used with pioneer woman’s pizza dough and yummy roasted tomatoes)
– vegan Caesar salad with homemade croutons

Also I have rediscovered my love for lightly salted popcorn!! And really hot chamomile tea.

I’m going to focus more on salads and wraps this week and next week maybe get a couple new cookbooks. Any suggestions?

I’m having some success with foods finally. Looking forward to various things that have turned out well. Right now there is a cashew cream cheese I made that is just so good I want to put it on everything.

Also enjoying making water kefir and pesto. Lots of pesto.

Also craving weird things that I normally wouldn’t eat, like hot dogs and breakfast sausage.

Need to remember to take vitamins, I think I’m missing b12 by not eating meat?

Onward and upward!!

Okay so six days in and starting to feel like I’m over the hump. I have some chili in the pot right now that smells out of this world. Feeling kind of sad that I won’t be able to top with cheese and some sour cream. But I can get over that.

I’m finding that I eat a lot less and think about food a lot less. Probably because I now closely associate food with restraint and hard work and so thinking about them is slightly less fun. But I do like that the food I am eating always seems to taste so “bright”. I realize its a strange choice of words but I think eating plant based actually brings in a different flavor profile. Fresher and brighter.

I’m branching out from my food blog into a cookbook lent to me by a co-worker only to find out the co-worker is featured in the book as a raw vegan chef, which actually shouldn’t surprise me because I knew this and I know first hand how fabulous his food is, but still it made me smile.

Also received some moral support from the two other vegans in the office this week. They say it gets easier once you feel like you have all the options you used to, the feeling of restraint isn’t permanent. That felt really good to hear.

I AM doing this.

Uhh what was I thinking? And why do I think there was any possibility I could do this?

To be honest I can’t really even say I’m craving something specifically. What I can say is that apparently I hate restricting myself in this area. I mean, mean and ugly hate. I’ve begun to detest even the thought of food. Like food=enemy. And I have a pounding head ache and all I really want to do is crawl underneath the covers and have a good cry. Gah. I’m miserable and it’s only day 2.

On a happier note my husband has been a saint, but that’s no surprise really.

Another day done, only 88 to go. Blerg.

So my first day went off without a hitch. I had to catch myself a few times before I ate random office cookies or when my mind began to wander into the wonderful world of cheese

For lunch I had some carrot soup, some undercooked millet (I will never do this again, I will either over cook or skip altogether). I also had some trail mix and some fresh juice from he juicer.

All of this was surprising filling, I’m making pasta tonight with a roasted tomato pesto. In my book you can never go wrong with roasted tomatoes and basil. I will however be missing my Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. My budding vegan is hoping the nutritional yeast will help but my snotty nosed animal consuming self has already declared the stuff to be a lackluster replacement.

Sigh.

I can do this. I can do this.

Spent this morning prepping ingredients for my journey into Vegan lunch. I can already tell the winners from the losers.

Losers: millet, lentils – overcooked the lentils, undercooked the millet

Winners: chickpeas, carrot apple ginger soup – I love chickpeas so no brainier. But the soup was a surprising win. I normally am not a huge carrot fan, but the soup is awesome especially with some toasted pita.

I’m taking my lunch queues from this blog today.

I need some pretty strict guidance while I get my feet wet and then I think I’ll be able to ad-lib a bit.

What am I going to eat for 90 days? What do Vegans eat? Vegetables? And what else? So I collected a week worth of recipes, mostly lunches and dinners. And I noticed some common themes: rice, grains, beans, seeds, nuts, dried fruits. So off I went to the bulk bins at Wholefood’s and about an hour later I had managed to find everything I need with some great help from the store employees

– Quinoa
– millet
– nutritional yeast
– chia seeds
– mulberries
– goji berries
– cashews
– almonds
– walnuts
– black beans
– kidney beans
– chickpeas

And a bunch of other items.

Tomorrow I’ll start prepping everything for lunches and dinners next week.

I can do this. I can do this.

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I’m slowly starting my vegan prep this week. I have begun compiling recipes and thoughts from my vegan coworkers. I know that the hardest part for me will be the planning, prep work and execution when I’m tired.

I need to be prepared with quick vegan options for dinners, which seem to be the hardest for me because work after work always finds me looking for quick and generally unhealthy options (girls scout cookies, pirates booty, half pound of random cheese).

So solution: do a lot of prep on Sunday to get ready for the week. Also plan for at least two mindless options a week.

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

New Year. New plan. New goals.

1. Go vegan for 90 days starting on January 15th
2. Don’t kill myself if I don’t do it perfectly.
3. Blog every day for those 90 days
4. Don’t kill myself if I don’t do it perfectly.
5. Do Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution for 90 days
7. Don’t kill myself if I don’t do it perfectly.
8. Work hard, but less this year.
9. Don’t work like life/happiness/wholeness depends on it.
10. Be a better friend and sister
11. Love myself harder and more fiercely.
12. Take one day at a time.

Most of the recipes I make are inspired from thousands of blog posts I cull through and experiment with (post to come later about that process). But all those things aren’t what got me into cooking. My mother made us dinner every night, a main dish and two side vegetables and some type of carb. She made some killer meals (and some not so great; cranberry chicken still freaks me out to this day). At the time I’m not so sure I appreciated what a feat dinner on the table really was, but now I appreciate it in ways words could not describe. Dude, cooking is hard and exhausting, and that’s just one part of the process, you have to plan all the meals and shop for all the ingredients. I recently twittered that I wondered sometimes if I was pulling enough weight in my relationship and then I remembered I do all the cooking and grocery shopping and yep that’s enough. That’s a full-time job, actually not, but I wish it could be because even though it’s really hard I have really grown to love it.

My mom is Italian and makes the absolute best pasta sauce and meatballs ever. She has ruined me for italian food, because no one makes it like my mother. My great grandparents immigrated from the old country at the turn of century so they knew their food. My mother lived up stairs from her grandmother who was blind, so my mom and aunt would help my great-grandmother bake and cook and make homemade Italian sausage. Every Sunday my great-grandmother would have the whole family over for pasta and fresh-baked bread and everyone would leave with leftovers and a loaf.

Out of this comes my mother’s sauce and meatball recipe. My mother would start making it before we got out of bed and we could smell the sauce when we woke up. There is nothing better than waking up to that smell. That feeling equates directly to love for me.

So part one is the meatballs part two will be the sauce (which is a much longer process). I have a confession here, sometimes I make the meatballs and I don’t have the energy for the sauce. So I used bottled sauce, now for clarification I never used a brand bottled sauce (like prago or ragu; I just cannot do the taste). I typically use the sauce that is bottled at my favorite local Italian deli, that’s my recommendation; find a small local Italian joint and see if they bottle their sauce and then use that stuff. Sometime I also use Dean and Deluca’s sauces, or I make this sauce which consists mostly of butter but is totally to die for. Now this method is not Karen Anderson Mother approved, but hey it works. Sometimes I also take the meatballs and bottled sauce and make meatball sandwiches and that is a total yum.

Okay so enough of the drawn out emotional blubbering, here it is in all it’s vague old country glory.

Old Country Meatballs

1-2 pounds of ground beef

1 large onion finely diced

1/2 – 1 cup of bread crumbs

1/3 – 1/2 cup of freshly grated Romano cheese (or until you are tired of grating)

Pinch of salt and pepper

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 egg

Depending on how much meat you use you will want to adjust the amount of bread crumbs and cheese and garlic. I almost always use two pounds so I lean on the heavy side of those ingredients. I also don’t measure I just do it by feel, the meat shouldn’t be too dry or too moist. Basically you want be able to form 1.5 inch meatballs without the meat sticking to much to your hands.

So mix all the ingredients above well, using your two bare hands. Then form the meatballs into 1.5 inch round balls. Place those balls into glass or metal pans. They can be right next to each other.

Then sprinkle cheese and bread crumbs on top. Put in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour. After they are done, place the meatballs in the pasta sauce and heat on low for 20-30 minutes. This way the meat soaks up the sauce flavor and becomes melt-in-your-mouth-yum.

If you want to do meatball sandwiches you’ll need to toast some hoagie buns in the oven and melt some provolone on to the bun and then pile on the meat balls and sauce. So good and so much better than that subway meatball thing Subway tries to pass off as Italian food.

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