It’s been a few weeks since I jumped back into a plant-based diet and here’s what I can report. Though I have been a few pounds lighter in the last few years, I have definitely also been a few pounds heavier. The scale sits somewhere in between, but I am sure I am eating more calories than I have at my lightest. I will always be a calorie counter, but am somehow finding it easier to eat a few extra calories without guilt, so if I were to want to take off a few more pounds, I am sure cutting out the wine and another 100-200 calories would be all it would take. The best part of this lifestyle for me (and it’s huge) is that I feel really, really good about all my food choices…for my body, my brain, my heart and my soul.
Needless to say, people always ask “so what DO you eat?” That is an easy question to answer. A plant-based diet is SO MUCH MORE than tofu and salad. Many foods are vegan by nature and most of them are the foods that are recommended for our improved health, just take a look a food pyramid. All fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and beans are vegan. Most of us realize that and personally, I can easily live on those foods alone. My salads are an entire event that involve combining all of the above. My Thursday night guests, however, are young and don’t yet worry about calories. They want a hearty, yummy meal.
Tonight’s VFT (Vegan Feast Thursday) theme is Italian. Our appetizer will be a homemade vegetable pizza . Pasta, it’s vegan. Marinara sauce as well (if you use jars, check to make sure there is no cheese in the ingredients). I am also trying a tray of stuffed shells. I’ll let you know if those are any good after the taste test. Of course there will be a huge salad. A side of baked Italian veggies (recipe below) and tonight instead of just twisting up the Pillsbury breadsticks, I am going to try to make them into little “bows” by “tying” them into little “knots” and then dusting with my secret weapon, tornado dust. While this is a completely plant based menu, Mitch will be happy with all of it (though he will refrain from the stuffed shells) and I, because of calorie concerns, will fill up on the salad and veggies and just sample the rest. For dessert there is some chocolate licorice (yup, that’s vegan) and I will probably make boxed brownies. I just substitute some applesauce for the egg and they become vegan, too, because –yup, dark chocolate is also a vegan item-(it’s the milk, as in milk chocolate that turns it into a non-vegan product)–and, in keeping with the theme, Italian ices, as well.
I need to clear up a question I have gotten more than once about the Alicia Silverstone book, The Kind Diet. Though Alicia lost a good amount of weight when she adopted a plant-based diet, the word DIET in the title, does NOT mean weight loss diet. The word diet, really refers to a way of eating or a lifestyle. This is also true of the word diet in the book Diet for a New America, by John Robbins, which I am currently re-reading. I continue to highly recommend both these books but always with the warning that it will be really hard to eat (or wear) animal products after reading, especially if you, like me, are an animal lover. Once you know the facts, it’s hard to enjoy not only your steak and chicken, but also your purses, leather shoes and…well, I’ll stop there! I still wear leather, but only if it’s something that’s already in my closet, or something that is handed down. I wont support the industry with more purchases, but that’s just a choice that works for me.
Sadly, Kyle won’t be at the table tonight. Happily, he will instead be moving into his new apartment. We will sure miss his adorable face at the table. Here’s how I will be making the vegetables tonight. While the kids could easily enjoy this meal without the veggies, I try hard to work healthy foods into their menu!
Baked Vegetables Italiano
1 large eggplant
several (2 or 3) zucchini
1 box mushrooms
1 onion (I use a sweet one)
1 or 2 tomatoes
sea salt, pepper, Italian spices ( I buy them already mixed together)
*THE ORIGINAL RECIPE ALSO CALLS FOR RED POTATOES which I often include, but not on pasta night
Peel eggplant and cut all veggie (except mushrooms) in somewhat equal sizes. I take all of the veggies except the tomato and mix them in a bowl with about 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, (I just started using sea salt because it contains about 80 minerals that are removed to make iodized table salt) pepper and spices. I pour them into a casserole dish and top with the cut up tomato and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes (probably less without the potatoes), lightly tossing them around about half way through.
If you are wondering where I will be getting my protein from (and I know some of you are) here’s the deal. Vegetables are about 22% protein! ALL VEGETABLES. So by the time I have eaten the veggies and salad I have gotten more than enough protein. Pasta has a good amount of protein and if I eat one or 2 stuffed shells (they are going to be stuffed with a tofu base) I will have consumed way more protein than I need. Last night, after a long work day, Mitch and I broght in fast food (something I rarely do!) from Chipotle. Just as an FYI this is a company that is very committed to serving food with integrity…non hormone fed, non processed, organic, family farm raised and nutritious. I had the vegetarian fajita bowl and since they don’t serve brown rice, I ate everything in there except the rice. Plant-based, low calorie, inexpensive and yummy, I will probably do that a little more often 🙂
Thanks for checking in. Remember to be kind to yourself, your loved ones and all living things.