Tag Archives: vegan

Sixty Days as a Vegetarian

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sixty Days. Two thirds of the way through this experiment and what have I learned so far?

First, that it’s not all that hard to eliminate meat from your life.  Just don’t go to Chilis.  In fact, banning meat has been liberating for me.  In this case, abstinence is definitely superior to moderation.  Having ‘just a little meat, now and then’ is I think too hard to control.  And it’s not necessary.  I feel better and I seem to have more energy – I’m every bit as tired at the end of the day, but I’m pushing myself harder, in different ways.  When I started this sixty days ago, all I was going to to was stop eating meat.  I was not thinking about starting a body weight workout program and I was not considering running a marathon.  I wasn’t considering running at all.  Those things just kind of happened spontaneously.  Organically.  I’m reminded of Dr. Campbell’s lab rats – those on a diet low in animal protein spent twice as much time on the exercise wheel as those on a high protein diet.

It will take just a little more work but at this point in the challenge and after more study I’m convinced that I should eliminate all the animal products from my diet including dairy and eggs.  Again I’m not going to sweat that too much right now, at least not for another 30 days, but consumption has already been drastically reduced and it’s just a matter of a little more time.

I did a five day business trip and stayed vegetarian.  I’ve done a number of business lunches and stayed vegetarian.  Vegan would be a bit more challenging, but certainly not impossible.

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • The Real Deal Oatmeal: with molasses, pecans, hemp hearts, blueberries and agave
    • Green Smoothie: Spinach, Kale, Strawberries and Raspberries
  • Lunch:
    • Brown Rice and Black Bean Burrito
    • 1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper, Apple, Banana
  • Dinner:
    • Appetizer: Leftover Chili with Tortilla Chips
    • Vegan Tacos (Walnut taco filling, cashew cream, guacamole, salsa, jalapenos)
    • Black Beans
    • Green Salad with Tahini Dressing
    • Glass of Cabernet

There’s a vegan day.  I tried a little different recipe for the Walnut Taco Filling tonight.  Not bad, but not quite as good as the first attempt.  Something worth tinkering with, for sure.  Same for the Tahini dressing, but I should probably be keeping better notes about what I’ve tried…

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Day Thirty Eight – Simple Steps to Cleaner Eating

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Still nursing the foot.  It’s only Tuesday John, relax.  Rode the short commutes on the single speed and the foot doesn’t really bother me on the bike.  Cycling is easy, but I also want to know I can run.  I was fairly quick when I was young…

Here’s what I ate today:

  • Breakfast
    • Oatmeal with molasses & agave nectar, blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed and hemp hearts
    • Green Smoothie – Spinach, Kale, melon, strawberry, blackberries
  • Lunch:
    • Quinoa & Black Beans, 1/2 yellow bell pepper, banana, apple, pecans & raisins
  • Dinner:
    • Appetizer: Heirloom carrots, broccoli & hummus
    • Tomato, pesto & avocado on toasted ciabatta bread
    • Yukon Gold baked fries
    • Green Salad with hemp oil balsamic vinaigrette
    • Glass of Cabernet
    • Dark Chocolate

Hey, it was a vegan day again – that feels good.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this dilemma that it’s sometimes hard to tell if vegetarians & vegans as a whole are generally healthier simply because of diet or because they are just generally more health conscious which has lead them to adopt a plant based approach to nutrition along with a tendency to be more physically active and to avoid highly processed and high calorie, low nutrient foods?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter.  The two go hand in hand, for the most part.  Yes, you can be an unhealthy vegetarian – Oreos technically qualify as vegan.  Is anyone arguing that Oreos are a health food?  Some things are obvious, some things are common sense, but so often it’s the case that you don’t see the common sense until you are hit over the head with it.

The vast majority of Americans, in particular, are in dire need of a nutritional overhaul. Many, many people who think they are eating “pretty healthy” are still consuming vast quantities of refined sugar and flour.  The link between animal products and coronary disease was proven decades ago, but we love to hear that maybe it’s not quite true.  Maybe Atkins was right?

The point is that most everyone could stand to clean up their diet and it doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to follow one strict diet dogma to do you lots of good.  You do however, need to pay attention to a few basic precepts.

If you do two simple things, you can dramatically improve the quality of your diet:

  1. Eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, in as close to their whole, natural state as possible.

  2. Avoid packaged, processed, canned, prepared and fast foods.

I didn’t say easy, just simple.

If you really want to go for a clean diet, there are 5 steps I recommend following.  It’s a rare individual who can go all the way from Standard American Diet to nothing but healthy, whole foods in one step.  You have to work your way into it.  And it’s work, but it’s some of the most rewarding work I’ve done.

Each of these steps starts with the verb ‘Eliminate’ which may carry a negative connotation, but the best way to approach this is to think not of doing without, but of crowding out.  Adding lots of nutrient dense, whole foods to take the place of the highly processed, high calorie and low nutrient density foods and food like edible products that are not helping us function at our best.  To help with this idea there are examples in the right hand column of things to add as you reduce and remove the things in the left hand column.  These are just a few examples and as you work your way through these steps, you discover all kinds of new and wonderful things to eat that you never gave a second thought before.  You find what works for you and what you like and you quickly find yourself thinking “Wow, I can’t believe I used to eat that!”

5 Simple Steps to Cleaner Eating:

Eliminate Refined Sugar
Add Fruit, sweeter vegetables like bell peppers, use natural sweeteners like agave nectar, when necessary
Eliminate Refined Flour
Add high quality starches like sweet potatoes, whole grains and sprouted grains
Eliminate Alcohol
Drink lots of water. Replace beer and hard liquor with a glass of good red wine*
Eliminate Meat
Add alternative proteins – legumes, quinoa, flaxseed, hemp, hummus.  Also more dark leafy greens like Kale and even sea vegetables like Nori, Kelp, Kombu and Dulse.
Eliminate Dairy
Add more nuts – almond milk, cashew cream, nut butters and nut pates

*When you are thirsty, drink water.  Water is for hydration. Beer and wine are foods.  Soda is one of the ultimate examples of empty calories.

You don’t have to be perfect about this to reap enormous benefits. You don’t have to go 100% with all of these ideas if you are not ready or just don’t want to, but if you do these things you will be eating a very clean and very healthy diet that study after study has shown will reduce your risk for many serious diseases including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, will leave you leaner than you thought was possible, give you more energy and mental clarity than ever and expose you to a world of flavors and textures that you’ve never imagined.

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Barley Pilaf

Barley Pilaft

This was even better than I expected. Improvise with whatever veggies you have on hand


  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley


  1. Head water and barley to boiling in medium saucepan
  2. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes
  3. Fluff with fork and set aside to cool for a few minutes
  4. Toss remaining ingredients with barley in a large bowl
  5. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  6. Serve warm

Enchilada sauce

Enchilada sauce

Use in your favorite enchilada recipe - so much better than anything from the store or a can!


  • 3 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 can (14.5oz) Vegetable broth
  • 4 tsp California chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Make a roux in a medium saucepan:
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat
  3. Gradually whisk in the flour
  4. Cook, whisking frequently for about 2 minutes
  5. Add the chili powder, cumin and garlic, whisk again
  6. Slowly add the broth, whisking constantly until sauce is smooth and bubbly
  7. Continue to cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes

Hemp oil and balsamic vinaigrette

Hemp oil and balsamic vinaigrette

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons

This simple salad dressing could not be easier. Tastier than anything you will find on the supermarket shelf and WAY healthier, just from the lack of refined sugars and preservatives to start. Add the hemp oil and you've got homemade superfood. Add a couple of teaspoons of chopped fresh herbs for variety.


  • 2 Tbsp Hemp oil
  • 1 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper and coarse salt, to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified
  2. Let stand for 20 or 30 minutes
  3. Whisk again before serving over your favorite greens