Maggie Swan

Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page

Tallying the results of our 30-day vegan experiment

In Vegan on March 14, 2014 at 6:15 pm

It hasn’t quite been 30 days – St. Patrick’s Day will mark the end of our month-long experiment. But I couldn’t wait the extra few days to see how our bodies have changed.

Frankly, I couldn’t believe the results.

In less than a month, with no calorie-counting and limited exercise (mostly because I couldn’t get away from work long enough to go to the gym for spin and core training classes), I lost 7 pounds. More startling, I lost nearly an inch from my waistline and an inch from my hips. My resting heart rate dropped from 73 to 63. My blood pressure, which has always been pretty low, was now 99/66.

Brian has lost 10 pounds. His blood pressure dropped significantly, and his resting heartbeat dropped from 67 to 59. He has to wear a different belt now to hold up his loosening pants.

Our skin feels much more supple. Our muscles feel tighter. The crow’s feet lines around our eyes are starting to fade.

I don’t feel deprived. I don’t stress about calories. I don’t miss the processed food anymore, nor do I miss the sugar or dairy. I miss the convenience of foods like pizza, but we spend a lot of time prepping our vegetables and fruits so that we can quickly and easily throw together a nutritious shake whenever we get hungry.

And we’re so jazzed about how good we feel that we’ve decided to see how we feel in another 30 days!


The best vegan birthday gift ever

In Vegan on March 10, 2014 at 6:12 pm

In case you were wondering how the Stroganoff Supreme and Juicy Burger & Potato Stew turned out… well, I never made them. I had already purchased the beefy substitutes and was sharing my dinner preparation plans with Brian when he gave me that look.

“You know, this is not the point of this experiment,” he said. “We aren’t trying to adapt our new eating habits to fit our old ones. This is all processed crap. Look at the ingredients.”

I looked again, with new eyes. Realized I couldn’t pronounce half of them.

Damn. Back to unprocessed vegetables again.

It’s not that I don’t like vegetables. I do. They just always have been a side dish, an accompaniment – never the star attraction of any meal.

I had gravitated toward these meat alternatives to help Devin ease into veganism. After all, I had made mini “almost-meatball” subs with meat and cheese substitutes – and he didn’t even know it was vegan. Now what could I do to get him into acceptance mode and eat more veggies?

Ah ha! Incentivize!

For every vegan meal or vegetable he ate, he would earn time on the iPad. Suddenly the kid who shunned our experiment was extolling the virtues of arugula with Cholula hot sauce. Trying everything I made (although in true Chopped fashion, would critique each meal, usually starting with “I’m not a fan…”).

We watched Forks Over Knives, a documentary that espoused the benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet. I started changing my thinking about clean eating – wanting it instead of dreading it.

The biggest boost to our experiment came from Williams-Sonoma (my favorite store): a Vitamix. Brian has been talking about Vitamix for two years, so we decided to get one for his birthday. It cost more than my first car! But oh, it was candy apple red, the Porsche of blenders, with a beautiful hard cover recipe book, and I couldn’t wait to see if the hype was true.

Yep. The hype is true.

We made green smoothies. French onion soup (using vegetable broth and forgoing the Swiss cheese). Spinach and vegetable soup (we ate this two nights in a row!). Berry smoothies. More green smoothies. Once I got past the neon green color (or, the brown ones Brian makes) – I found I loved them and began to crave them.

Making spinach vegetable soup in the Vitamix

Look at ‘er blend!

Here is the recipe for the first smoothie I ever made in the Vitamix, courtesy of Vitamix – it remains my favorite smoothie so far.

Spring Green Smoothie

1/2 cup green grapes
1 orange; peeled, halved, seeded
1/2 lemon; peeled, seeded
1/2 cucumber; large chunks
1/2 green apple; seeded
1 cup kale; spine removed
1 cup romaine lettuce
1 cup parsley leaves
1 cup pineapple chunks; fresh or frozen
2 cups ice cubes

– Place the ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
– Select Smoothie program.
– Switch machine to Start and allow machine to complete programmed cycle.

This is what happens when an 8-year-old does not want to eat vegan

In Vegan on March 7, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I was reviewing my son’s homework last night to make sure he did everything correctly. I was reading his vocabulary sentences and the second sentence made me smile:

2. My mom’s cool she’s the best mom ever.

Then I read sentences 3, 4, and 5 – and thought I was going to fall over from laughing so hard:

Bemoaning the switch to veganism...

Bemoaning the switch to veganism…

In case you can’t read his handwriting:

3. I’d bet everyone wants to eat meat at some point.

4. I just can’t stop eating meat, I just can’t.

5. The foods I don’t like are all vegetables.

I did not die from my vegan diet…

In Vegan on March 5, 2014 at 11:53 pm

My lack of updates on our 30-day vegan experiment is not because I have fallen off the wagon or died, although the flu did hit my son and I pretty hard. For one day. I have to say – Tamiflu is indeed like a miracle drug.

Here’s what you’ve missed.

1. The scale doesn’t reflect any significant weight loss, but I have lost several inches of bloat from my waistline. This is a great development, except that when I run my shorts slide down my butt. In fact, my whole body looks and feels tighter, without any apparent muscle loss.

2. We are not starving! In fact, I’ve gotten pretty creative now that I have had a chance to explore all of the meat- and dairy-free options out there. This Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers recipe was a winner, as was the wrap I made with veggie “beef” crumbles and chickpeas, and the Tortellini with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce recipe from Mouthwatering Vegan by Miriam Sorrell. Up next this week: Stroganoff Supreme, Juicy Burger & Potato Stew (also from Mouthwatering Vegan), and Meat-free meatball subs.

3. I recognize how very lucky we are to live near so many grocery stores that carry vegan-friendly products – we’ve got Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and new Greenwise Publix within a 5-mile radius.

4. Veggie hot dogs suck. I simply cannot find a brand that doesn’t make me gag. If you know of a good brand, please let me know!

5. I made a great dish – Pasta No-Fredo – which tasted a lot like real Fettucine Alfredo using pureed cauliflower instead of cream. However, the cauliflower put me in SEVERE gastrointestinal distress for two days. I thought I was going to explode.

6. We *almost* broke down and got a pizza the other night. It had been a long day for both of us and neither one of us felt like cooking. We ended up sticking to the plan and going to Pei Wei – I didn’t realize how vegan-friendly their food is!

7. My 8-year-old is not sticking with the plan. I am having a hard time packing nutritious lunches that he will actually eat, and that don’t include a lot of sugar. I did, however, find a brand of meatless buffalo chicken wings that he inhaled. He is eating vegan about 50% of the time – it’s a start, anyway.

8. I just discovered that there are vegan substitutes for feta and pepper jack cheese!

9. I have not really found a good substitute for vegan cream. Soy creamer is really too thin for the texture I am trying to achieve.

10. I don’t know that we will ever go back to eating the way we used to. I do miss my fish (salmon, particularly) but the cravings I had for meat are totally gone. I don’t feel deprived. I was concerned that I would be “weak” but that has not been the case, even after really intense spin classes.