Stuffsoup – a little blog with a lot of "stuff"


Post Vegan Post

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on April 12, 2010

For 30 days randomly started February 19, 2010 through March 20, 2010, I followed a diet eliminating the “forbidden 5” which meant no alcohol, no caffeine, no sugar, no gluten, and no animal products (vegan) – referred to as the vegan cleanse. And, as the old adage of “the older I get, the better I used to be” holds true, the more time that passes since my vegan cleanse, the more fondly I recall it.

Since I completed the 30 days, people have been most curious about what I am eating now and what I FIRST had when I allowed myself to go back to “anything”. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you that the moment I woke up on day 31, I went down the stairs, grabbed a fork, and headed straight for the freezer to get the piece of chocolate birthday cake that I had stuck in there from my kids’ birthday celebration. I suppose the healthiest thing to say here would be that I didn’t like it or it was too sugary for me or I felt awful after I ate it, but honestly… it was amazing!

I tried not to add things back in too quickly (apart from that clear sugar rush first thing on the first morning). The first week, I got back to dairy and meat. By the next weekend, my parents came for a visit bringing their own supply of sugar and alcohol and I partook. I was still trying to stay as clean as I could and partly that meant trying to stay away from Easter candy. And I did… until the after-Easter candy sale at Target. Then I had a rough week.

Tonight, when a friend asked if I had lost weight (which always makes me smile), I said that I had (which is true). But, I felt compelled to also admit that I had started to put some back on (which is unfortunate). As she exhaled audibly, she said, “oh, don’t do that.” She is right, I shouldn’t. I don’t want it back. I really have fought too hard to get it off. I have clearly learned that I can no longer run far enough or fast enough to erase bags of candy. I just have to keep my diet clean no matter how hard it may seem. And, it really is seeming hard right now.

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Smile

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on March 20, 2010

Well, here we are at day 30 of the 30-day vegan cleanse. After I go to sleep tonight, I will have made it (because in theory, I could still raid the fridge or something) and I think, I’m better for it. The most frequent question I get is “Will you still be vegan after this is over?”. The short answer is no, but the longer answer is yes. I won’t strictly be following the diet that I have been doing for the last 30 days, but I will more frequently take other options, including vegan options. Most of the other questions have to do with how it has been, how I have felt, if I feel it was worth it, if I achieved what I wanted, if I’ll keep blogging, etc..

I have felt good. It has felt good to make healthy choices. My skin hasn’t been so dry which is a welcome thing during a Minnesota winter. I’ve been quite “regular” (if you know what I mean). I’ve lost weight. I didn’t get a chance to weigh in today, but as of two days ago, I had lost 6% of my weight and that feels good for only 30 days. There were many days that were hard, but I do think it was worth it. I wasn’t completely sure what to expect, so mostly what I wanted to achieve was just doing it and I’m glad I did and the weight loss was definitely the biggest “perk”. As for blogging, I would like to keep blogging if you’ll have me. The posts likely won’t be as frequent, but I enjoy the outlet and love connecting in this way.

I started out this journey blogging about “extreme learning” and I would have to say that I did learn a lot. I had a glimmer of what it is like to have a gluten allergy and how hard it can sometimes be to find good substitutes. I learned about some foods that I had never tried before. I learned about raw foods which is a whole other interesting concept. I learned some new recipes and I learned some new ways of thinking and looking at things.

Day 30 – last

Breakfast – gs apple with pb dip

Snack – Mrs. May’s Trio bar in cranberry

Lunch – oatmeal with agave, almond milk, and berries

Dinner – sichuan sauce over rice noodles and carrots plus just a little Good Karma (rice divine ice cream in very vanilla) for dessert

The good. New perspective on food.

The better. New recipes that will be added into my rotation.

The best. I did it!

As Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” In some ways, I’ll actually miss this journey, it provided a good structure to learn some of the things I think I needed to learn. It will be good though to test my skills in a way that is more sustainable for me and my family. Thus that old proverb about every end being a new beginning is true… more challenges and more learning are yet to come, though I will definitely smile because it happened. 🙂

Who’da Thunk

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on March 19, 2010

Today the kids and I went on a class field trip to the Lowry Nature Center. It was an interesting talk and an interesting walk and the kids stayed more engaged than at some past field trips. I even learned something new about snakes… apparently they never stop growing and the more they eat, the bigger they get. The group also went out to tap a maple tree, each taking turns turning the hand drill into the trunk and after checking out the trees, they got to sample some maple syrup from last year.

I am always completely fascinated by the idea that someone had to think these things up. I mean, who drilled the first hole into a maple tree? Did they try many other trees? (Apparently a box elder tree can be tapped too, just that the syrup isn’t quite as tasty… really?) What prompted them to heat the stuff instead of just eating it the way it came out and leaving it at that? Who decided how long to cook it? How much was lost before they got it all right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad there are so many people experimenting with things, I just often wonder about the failed experiments and how people come to their successes. It is all amazing to me.

Day 29 – repeat

Breakfast – gs apple with pb dip

Snack – Mrs. May’s Trio bar in strawberry and some Veggie Crunchers

Lunch – Barcelona spinach

Dinner – the last of the black bean sweet potato chili over brown rice

The good, the better, the best. I’m glad Barcelona spinach (spinach, garbanzo beans, brown rice, and rice milk) will be a relatively easy go-to lunch. Even though it was pretty cool, it was fun to get outside with the kids today. Plus, they got to throw piles of leaves up into the air just for the fun of it.

I guess when you think about it, we really are experimenting all the time. I’m glad to know about the experiments of others that seem to work so well whether it is a parenting tip, a recipe, a new exercise, or whatever other thing. We all can learn so much from each other and keep getting better tastes, experiences, and outcomes. Go world.

Coming or Going

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on March 18, 2010

As I was driving to the gym this morning, I looked around at all the bare trees and brown-ness and thought of how cool the temperature is and I was thinking how if I just “dropped in” somehow, I might not really know whether it was fall or spring. And, since I was apparently feeling a bit philosophical today, I started thinking that, in some ways, I feel the same way about my weight. It is still not “ideal” and if you just took a snapshot today, you wouldn’t know if I was at this weight topping out or on my way to losing.

If you look closer outside, there are clues that it is spring and not fall. Small buds are trying their best to come out, the Vs of ducks and geese are flying north instead of south, and there are small fingers of ice that are melting off of the ponds. When I look closer at myself, I know that I am on my way to losing mostly because I feel so very much like I’ve just gone through my own “winter”. I feel spring, today I am spring.

Day 28 – dig

Breakfast – oatmeal with agave, almond milk, and berries

After-workout snack – almonds

Lunch – salsa (with a can of beans added for protein) with blue corn chips and cantaloupe

Dinner – Barcelona spinach and 2 Ani Phyo oatmeal raisin cookies

The good, the better, the best. When I lived in Barcelona, they sold this bag of frozen mixed veggies that I loved. It was just spinach and garbanzo beans, but I’d put it with rice and then some cream sauce that I can’t remember anymore since I’d given up on making it here. It may have even been something like a Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup or something. Anyway, I thought I’d give this a go, but didn’t know what I could use to “cream” it up. I heated some frozen spinach from Trader Joe’s (it was in a bag and not mashed into a box, so I could just get a cupful out) and added some garbanzo beans, then I put some pre-cooked brown rice in the pot to warm it all together. Then I tried some rice milk for a bit of cream. It turned out just fine and it did remind me of Barcelona, which made me smile.

I am glad to be leaving winter behind. I do know that there may still be flurries, like the ones forecasted for next week, and there may even be a blizzard, but I feel spring trying to come and that is good. So good.

Thirsty in the Ocean

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on March 17, 2010

I had an a-ha moment at a gas station. I wanted my daughter to be able to share a birthday treat with her class, and one of her schools strongly prefers store-bought treats to homemade since they come with an ingredient label (though I would gladly give them an ingredient list – but that is a topic for another day). Anyway, I had sent treats the previous day, but didn’t know if there were enough for her additional smaller class, so when I was putting gas in the car, I went into the c-store to see what I could find for her to have a plan B.

I looked around hoping to find something that wasn’t horrible, but that the kids might enjoy. As I looked, through the filter of this 30-day vegan cleanse, there was basically nothing… nothing in there that I could eat. And, I can tell you that I have eaten gas-station food in the past. It was an eye opener to see such a large store with nothing to eat.

Day 27 – low profile

Breakfast – gs apple with peanut-butter dip

Snack – LaraBar in cherry pie and Veggie Crunchers

Lunch – hummus on rice cake bits (they got a bit crunched) and pea pods

Dinner – black bean sweet potato chili over brown rice

It is incredibly interesting to have a new framework for looking at food choices. I know all of the information was there in my brain before, but it has been much easier to filter out extraneous data. I like having the new lens.

Christmas in March

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on March 16, 2010

I was very excited when Jennifer from unplannedcooking.com invited me to join a networking group of blogging women at The Blog Pantry. I was also a bit nervous. I mean, I had seen some of the blogs that these ladies have put together and they all look so amazing. My curiosity won though and I decided I could learn some cool things and certainly meet some cool people and I love that! Then it was just a matter of figuring out HOW to make it happen. Eventually, a plan (in the form of a neighbor girl with homework and kids that were already in bed) came together and off I went. Late, but there.

Molly Herrmann from tastebudtart.com hosted the get together at Midtown Global Market (a favorite place of mine where you can find the best burrito in town along with many other fantastic things). The group got together in a restaurant there called A La Salsa. They were easy to spot… they all seemed to be as well put together as their blogs (I was glad I had a shower today and even put on some powder in the car). The ladies were all so warm and I got that feeling I had early in college when everything was new and when you would meet people, you’d ask “what’s your major?” (only tonight it was “what’s your topic?”). Maybe it seems silly, but it was really fun, exciting, and it was as good as I had hoped in so many ways. Plus, Molly had great goodies that she gave away to all of us at the end… love that too! I’ll be sporting my new Midtown Global Market t-shirt soon.

Day 26 – munchy

Breakfast – oatmeal with agave and almond milk

Early lunch – yummy pad thai and cantaloupe

Snack – go.raw ginger snaps, a bowl of toasted sesame pea pods, and dried apple

Dinner – 2 gf waffles with agave and berries

The good. I guess it is good to know that when I don’t have a snack in the morning with a later lunch, I am really hungry by mid-afternoon. I wanted to eat so much, I couldn’t decide what to eat… thus the random assortment of snack today. Though at least they were all pretty healthy. I can say when this has happened in the past, the choices weren’t so healthy.

The better. I was glad I remembered this recipe that I got from a book-club friend.

Toasted Sesame Pea Pods

32 ounces of sugar snap peas blanched for 1 minute and drained, then add 1/8 cup sesame oil, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. May serve warm or chilled or make a smaller batch as I did today.

The best. The Blog Pantry event was the highlight of my day. I actually felt giddy about it. I love that feeling.

One of the other bloggers described the group as “inspiring” and I would concur. It helps me want to keep blogging and keep learning and keep experiencing all there is. I mean, there was this whole world happening there and I’m glad I got a peek in.

Job Hazards

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on March 15, 2010

Every day for the last 25 days, when ever I would pick up a knife and a cutting board, my task was generally to cube or even to mince, so tonight when I was making mashed potatoes for the family, I started to cube the potatoes (small cubes) before putting them in the pot. They did cook pretty quickly, though I suppose it took a bit longer to cut (I am able to cut a bit faster now however even without cutting my fingers – which is a bonus).

It’s funny how your fingers can start to do something even before your brain fully registers it. Apparently researchers have figured out that our unconscious brain “knows” things or becomes aware of things even before we are consciously aware. Apparently we “know” before we know. Although we can still be wrong sometimes.

Day 25 – kinda fruity

Breakfast – strawberries and a cup of rice milk

After-workout snack – almonds and grapes

Lunch – a Mrs. May’s Trio bar in blueberry and cantaloupe

Dinner– leftover sichuan sauce over rice noodles and french fries (potato strips baked with some ev olive oil) with nayonaise

The good. The Trio bar was new to me and it is a bit more calories than I would normally like (230 calories per bar) but it worked well in a pinch and is clearly portable for times like today when I was eating that part of lunch while chasing my soon-to-be-3-year-old son out the door.

The better. I was quite pleased with how well the sichuan sauce kept and it was really good warmed and poured over my Trader Joe’s rice sticks as well as over the spaghetti squash before.

The best. The cantaloupe was good and juicy and it reminded me of summer. As did the sunshine today and the warmer weather. I really like that.

Some tasks are probably really good to get on “auto pilot”. It is how we can get so much done in a day or multitask our way through the “to-do” list, but periodically I suppose it is good to look at these things and make sure they still serve us well. Is there anything that you have on auto pilot that you wish wasn’t quite so automatic? And/or, conversely, do you have things on auto pilot that save your day?

I Ate Chocolate Cake

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on March 14, 2010

Wait! Don’t panic. If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning, I’m sure that title was a bit startling as it doesn’t seem to fit with my 30-day vegan cleanse, but you should know that it was “legal” chocolate cake. See recipe below. 🙂

My son and daughter had a combined birthday party today and I knew when I started this cleanse back in February that this would be a tough time, so I was so pleased to find Ani Phyo and her raw-foods recipes on youtube. Check her out, she’s got some good stuff.

Day 24 – chocolate, etc.

Breakfast – 2 gf waffles with agave and berries

Snack – bits of things I was preparing for the gathering including recipes below and fruit

Lunch – “summer” salsa with tortilla chips

Snack – oatmeal raisin cookie, chocolate cake with strawberries, and a few grapes

Dinner – black bean sweet potato chili over quinoa

The good. Oatmeal raisin cookies from Ani Phyo. I was so surprised that these tasted just like an oatmeal raisin cookie. I’d definitely remember the touch of cinnamon next time for further effect since I forgot it today. Here’s the recipe.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal (she didn’t really give a quantity and I over shot, but it was fixable), 1/2 cup of medjool dates with pits and stems removed (plus the extra one since I overshot the oatmeal), and a pinch of cinnamon all mixed by hand in a bowl. It gets kind of stick-together-y. Then, add 1/2 cup raisins (I just put in enough to “look right”) and form balls or cookies. That’s it – amazing, eh?

The better. Real vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free chocolate cake. It was so decadent. It kind of reminded me of a truffle. I thought it was best with berries and I think I’ll serve the rest with more berry. Here’s the recipe.

Raspberry Ganache Fudge Cake

3 cups dried organic “naked” walnuts, 2/3 cup cacao powder (I used cocoa powder), and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt all blended in a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup medjool dates with pits and stems removed. Form it into whatever shape you like, frost (see below), and serve with raspberries (or strawberries if the store sells out of raspberries 20 minutes before you arrive -grr).

Frosting

1/3 cup pitted medjool dates, 1/4 cup agave syrup, 1/2 cup ripe avocado, and 1/3 cup cacao powder all blended in the food processor. (Again I used cocoa powder and because I don’t think my avocado was ripe enough to make it spreadable, I added just a bit of chocolate almond milk.)

The best. It was great getting together with friends to share tasty treats and the kids were so happy to have friends come to play. I am happy to have good people in my life and the lives of my kids.

The “regular” (read fabulous!) chocolate cake that I made for the kids and other guests was sooo tempting, but I was so glad to have something new and interesting and sweet to have instead to keep me on track to make it to the end of my 30 days. If I could make it past that, I think I can get past anything.

Food Story

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on March 13, 2010

Today was more about food again. I was able to go shopping this morning at what turned out to be 3 stores (though I could have skipped one). I wanted to try some new things to see what else I might like and to get ready for the last week of this 30-day vegan cleanse by having things on hand and some ideas at the ready.

I’ve also been preparing for my children’s birthday party (they have birthdays less than a week apart) and that means home-made chocolate cake. I will miss eating that (or maybe I’ll freeze myself a piece for later). It was odd not to lick the spoon after mixing. I guess the dishwasher will get to enjoy that privilege tonight.

Day 23 – silver and gold

Breakfast – gs apple with pb dip

Snack – wedge of anjou pear (thanks, Costco) and Veggie Crunchers (dried sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, taro, and green beans)

Lunch – 1/4 sweet potato cut into strips baked with a little ev olive oil, pepper, and sea salt (otherwise known as sweet-potato fries) with nayonaise and a Rawma bar in pumpkin agave for dessert

Dinner – sichuan noodles with spaghetti squash and a random carrot stick

The good. The Veggie Crunchers by Amport Foods were good. So good, it made me wonder if my palate is changing. Hmm?

The better. For lunch, I wanted something “naughty” and the sweet-potato fries did the trick (and shh, don’t tell me, but they weren’t really naughty at all) and the Rawma Bar was tasty, though there is nothing I could even to compare it too. The bonus is that it had 9g of protein, so it was a pretty good “dessert”.

The best. I finally made spaghetti squash. I had been kind of intimidated by them and now I find that pretty amusing since it couldn’t really have been much easier to make… cut in half, put in shallow pan, put in 375 degree oven, and remove in about 30 minutes and scrap the “meat” out with a fork in noodle-like strands. And, the sichuan sauce was fantastic. I am quite happy to have extra sauce to put over rice noodles for a meal this week too. Here’s the recipe since you’ll want to try this (note: T means tablespoon).

Sichuan Noodles

3 T soy sauce (I used Bragg), 2 T expeller-pressed canola oil, 2 T finely chopped fresh garlic, 2 T finely chopped fresh ginger, 4 scallions plus 1/2 of the green stalk thinly sliced, 2 T peanut butter, 2 T Asian chili oil, 1 T brown sugar (I used instead a drizzle of agave), 1 cup chicken stock (instead I used Trader Joe’s organic vegetable stock)

Put oil in skillet and add garlic, ginger, and onion. Cook for 2 minutes. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, chili oil, brown sugar (or agave), and stock and whisk to combine. Cook for 5 minutes or until sauce is thickened and shiny. Pour sauce over “noodles” and toss.

As with all days, there were lots of food choices. Many samples were offered at the store and though I would normally partake in many of them, I only had the wedge of pear. Speaking of fruit samples, I realized that I forgot to mention that I had a slice of star fruit yesterday when I was cutting it to decorate cupcakes for my daughter to take to school. And, speaking of full reporting, I also forgot to mention the weekly percentage weight loss which for the week ended yesterday is another 1.0%. I guess better late than never, right?

Some Lentils Were Harmed

Posted in 30-day vegan cleanse by stuffsoup on March 12, 2010

So, I mentioned in an earlier post that I wasn’t happy with how the lentil soup turned out. If I ever try it again, I will soak the lentils, not just rinse them even though the package claimed rinsing was all that was required. I (and the family after I doctored it up with smoked sausage, etc.) got through as much as was possible and I threw out the last bowl of it. I don’t like throwing out food, but I didn’t want to face eating it again and since they started out as a bag of dried lentils, I probably only lost 4 cents in the disposal. So, to move on.

But not really too far. As it turns out, sometimes consistency in a diet can be a good thing. According to Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, “We know that variety makes you eat more.” That is based on several studies as well as her own experience in counseling weight-loss patients. For example, researchers in France found that study participants ate more french fries when they were offered ketchup and mayonnaise along with them. I’m sure they just needed to keep trying them both ways to see which one they liked better. Other researchers discovered that people who have been able to maintain weight loss tend to eat diets with limited variety. So, I’ve found a few things that seem to work and today I went with those.

Day 22 – standbys

Breakfast – most of a gs apple with peanut-butter dip

After-workout snack – almonds and dried fruit

Lunch – hummus on rice cakes and snap peas

Dinner – yummy pad thai

Good, better, best. After a couple of days off, it was good to get back in the gym. Not just for my body, but also to feed my social craving. I really do like working out with someone else and I love to run into other friends while I am there, it feels good to know that others are on their own healthy journey. And, of course, I love to chat even when my heart rate gets too high to make that comfortable.

And, even though it might be good to limit variety and stick with the good stuff, I do love to mix things up sometimes too. That whole “spice of life” thing appeals to me. I love to try new things and I have some great new recipes that I am looking forward to trying, so stay tuned.

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