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Beloved Seitan

Seitan is one of those foods I didn’t try for the longest time because I wasn’t really sure I needed to. I mean, I already had tofu. Then I tried tempeh and was very impressed. And I had no idea how to cook it.

But when I dined at Ramsi’s Cafe on the World over the summer (one of many times) I decided to finally give this seitan (say-tan, not Satan, haha) a try.

139That’s a vegan seitan parmesan sandwich on cuban bread with roasted potatoes 🙂

I liked it so much that when I went back to Ramsi’s the next time, I tried the Jamaican seitan sandwich, which I posted about back in August.

I can’t really describe seitan, other than to say I find it just as delicious and versatile as tofu and tempeh. But I still have yet to purchase and cook any seitan myself at home. Maybe someday!

Have you ever had seitan? Do you cook with it at home? What are your favorite recipes to use it in?

Mac ‘n Teese

In addition to the vegan mozzarella I made pizza with, Chicago Soy Dairy was kind enough to send me some non-dairy creamy cheddar sauce to try too!

005It didn’t take long for me to decide that I wanted to make vegan mac ‘n cheese! Actually, mine turned out sort of like a casserole.

001 I cooked half a box of pasta shells and then heated up the cheese sauce with it. It was really easy to make and looked really good…but it smelled funny. This made me a little nervous to eat it.

I mixed in 2/3 cup of cooked mixed veggies and a serving of Morningstar Chik’n strips I had leftover in the freezer that I wanted to get rid of. It turned into quite the interesting dish!

002 I am happy to say that even though it smelled weird, this “teese” tasted AWESOME! I liked it a lot better than the mac & chreese that I’d tried before (which is okay, but this was better).

004The batch I made was big enough for lots of leftovers, including some I had with half a Jamaican Seitan sandwich I got at Ramsi’s on Friday night.

007 The sandwich was pretty awesome itself, even the leftovers!

006I will definitely be ordering some more of this stuff for whenever I’m in the mood for mac & cheese, vegan style.

Thanks again, Chicago Soy Dairy! 🙂

Why I’m giving up soy

One of the things I have realized on this new path to self-discovery, or whatever I’m on, is that I need to do what I think is right for me and stop apologizing or avoiding discussing things because I’m afraid of how others will react. This is my life and I should be living it according to my convictions.

With that being said, let’s talk about Soy, shall we?

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Soy products are perhaps the most recognized staples of many vegetarian and vegan diets. There’s soy milk, soy nuts, soy-based veggie burgers and other meat replacements, tofu, tempeh, soy yogurt, etc. It’s also present in many processed foods people consume (like soy sauce), regardless of their diet.

I know the opinions on soy and it’s affects on the body are varying. Whenever you are researching something for yourself, I think scientific articles are the most beneficial to read on the subject but you must look at everything you read with a skeptical eye. I also believe sometimes you just have to go with what your heart tells you, while keeping science in mind.

I’d never had a problem with soy before and believed that as long as you were consuming less processed soy products, there was nothing to worry about. For some people, that’s probably still true. But I’m not so sure about me anymore. I also need to remind you that I lack moderation.

Now it’s time for me to get personal: I have been having “problems” with my menstrual cycles for as long as I can remember. I started my periods really early, age 9. I suffer from irregular cycles, extremely long cycles, heavy and painful periods, and in the past missed periods too.

It seems like no two cycles are ever the same and attempts at taking hormonal birth control in the past just left me more frustrated. That’s a topic for another post, but let’s just say I would much rather be able to “solve” this on my own in a more natural way.

The reason I have chosen to discuss soy in my diet, is due to findings which claim that consuming a lot of soy products can lengthen the menstrual cycle and possibly cause fertility problems IF you have multiple risk factors. Soy also has health benefits which have been shown in scientific studies, but I had to weigh it for myself. You can’t believe everything you read, on either side.

I thought when I lost weight and got myself healthier (starting in 2007), that things would improve but they have not. Losing weight made my periods lighter and less painful for a while, but then when I started running, they disappeared entirely. 

I thought that if I cut back on running it would help some, but it did not. Luckily, some progesterone pills got them restarted and I haven’t experienced any missed periods in a while now. One last thing I haven’t fully addressed yet as a possible cause is stress, but since that is an on-going battle for me right now, I thought I’d give one more dietary change a shot first.

The past several months have been extremely tough. My cycles have gotten longer (we’re talking 50+ days), my periods have gotten heavier and more painful than ever (as in take a Vicodin and stay home from work painful) and I’ve been depressed.

The moods are what got my attention the most. I’d been dealing with the other stuff off and on for years, but when I started finding it hard to smile, that hurt more than any physical pain I was feeling.

Why now? I’ve been consuming soy products in foods my entire life. I found out I was lactose intolerant in 2008, so I’ve been using soy milk and yogurt more since then. But since my problems have escalated the past few months or so, I can’t help but wonder if it is because my soy consumption has increased since I decided to go vegan in October of 2009? I think maybe so.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat soy. I’m not recommending anything to anyone, as I’m not qualified to do so.

But from research I have done on my own, medical opinions I’ve received, and based on the opinions of a few trustworthy friends, I have decided to experiment with reducing (or eliminating) soy in my diet to see if it improves my cycles at all.

Just like I have done with other changes in my diet, I plan to phase soy out gradually. I have a refrigerator full of veggie burgers, tofu, tempeh and soy yogurt that I still need to use up. But I’ve started reading labels and the new foods I’m purchasing are soy free.

I know what you are thinking…how can someone who already doesn’t eat so many things possibly remove yet another food group from their diet?

Well, just like there are alternatives to the animal products I choose not to eat, there are also alternatives to soy. I can use coconut milk or almond milk instead of soy (there is also hemp, oat, and rice milks available).

Sunshine Burgers are soy free as is Earth Balance.

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Seitan is a good alternative to tofu and tempeh. I just tried it for the first time the other night when we had dinner at Ramsi’s and I got the Seitan Parmesan sandwich, yum! I’ll still have plenty of beans and lentils, which are excellent protein sources.

There are a plethora of yogurts and frozen treats made from coconut milk, almond milk and rice milk if I want them. So really, there’s nothing missing.

Much like when I first went vegan, the hardest thing will be where it shows up on food labels. Just like with dairy and eggs, soy can be sneaky sometimes but if I keep my diet as whole as possible, there won’t be as many processed food labels to worry about anyway.

Friends and family — if you are reading this, don’t worry. I will still eat things you make for me if they contain soy products. I think once in a while is okay, especially if you went out of your way to make sure something wouldn’t contain meat or dairy (which I appreciate more than you know).

I just have to get out of the habit of having soy milk with breakfast, a veggie burger at lunch, soy yogurt for a snack and tofu for dinner. That’s just too much.

I also want to note that I am in the process of adjusting some other areas of my diet but I will discuss those at a later date. I believe it is important to experiment and find what is going to work best for you and your individual needs, to get your body (and mind) working optimally.

So, now I want to know about you:

Do you eat soy products regularly? If you choose to eat a small amount of soy or avoid it entirely, why?

Day 7: A little too much fun

I took Friday off work to catch up on a ton of errands, including buying gifts for Mother’s Day and the wedding and two graduation parties I’m attending today!

I started the day off with a slice of homemade whole wheat bread that my stepmother-in-law made for me topped with peanut butter and banana. It’s so good!

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I also had some green Naked juice!

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I got a black coffee from Starbucks to enjoy whilst shopping!

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For lunch, I had my leftovers from Ramsi’s of course 🙂

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Before getting ready for my fun night out, I snacked on an apple with peanut butter.

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Then I got to go to this!

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But before the show, we went to BBC (Bluegrass Brewing Company) where I tried a couple things called “Beertails” which are cocktails made with their special brews.

The first one I tried was called a Wheat Spritzer, which contained grapefruit, orange juice and wheat beer. It was good and not too sweet!

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We also got to sit outside even though it ended up being rather windy out!

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I ended up ordering another drink (it was happy hour) and this time I tried the Cosmo of the Kings (I think?) which was made with their raspberry meade.

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For dinner, I ordered the Spinach Burger (no cheese, no mayo) and fries, which wasn’t really a challenge friendly meal but still pretty good.

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The burger was yummy! I loved how when I was taking bites out of it, I could actually see the spinach. It’s homemade which is always better than when a restaurant serves you a Boca patty!

Oh my heavens, the concert was great. The Goo Goo Dolls have been my favorite band for the past uhh…15 years or so? Gosh, I’m getting old, ha ha! But I love them and seeing them in concert is always a great experience.

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After the show, I wiped the drool from my face we met up with some friends who were in from out of town for the show and headed across the street to Cunningham’s.

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I wasn’t really in the mood for anything to eat, but I was quite thirsty so I chugged a few glasses of water but then we all decided to have another drink.

I got the Chateau St. Michele Riesling which was awesome!

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However, three alcoholic beverages in one night (even though spread out and none very strong) was not the best display of moderation on my part. I don’t feel bad physically at all, but I do think I need to control myself a little better in the future. Plus, I don’t need to drink so many calories!

All that being said, it was a great night and I’m so glad I got to spend it with my girlfriends!

I did get a little hungry by the time I got home (at 1 o’clock!) so I had a small cup of oats with peanut butter, perfect 🙂

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What is your favorite band?

Day 6: Happy Birthday to me!

Hey guys! Sorry I am so behind on my updates, this week has been crazy and today is no better! Luckily things are about to slow down 😉

Thursday was my birthday and it was a happy one indeed!

For breakfast, I had oats with banana and peanut butter. I forgot to photograph it, so here is a “recycled” photo.

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Mid-morning, I snacked on more grapes. I’m loving these!

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Lunch was leftover spaghetti squash with the veggie chickpea sauce I made on Tuesday night 🙂

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And an orange!

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Then later in the afternoon, I finished off this bag of edamame before heading to the gym to lift weights, using the same routine I did on Tuesday.

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For dinner, we went to Ramsi’s Cafe on the World, which is one of my favorite vegan-friendly places here in Louisville.

Mom treated me to a glass of Chardonnay which was great, I hadn’t had any in a while!

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Then we ordered the hummus appetizer, which I was so pleased that many of my relatives tried…and liked! 🙂

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For my dinner, I had the Roasted Vegetable Masala. I divided this huge portion in half and took the rest home to have for lunch the next day!

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It was delicious! I loved the sweet potato, carrots and all the other veggies inside, plus it was just a little spicy. Almost as good as going to an Indian restaurant.

Everyone else really enjoyed their food too and we had excellent service. I’m so glad everything worked out so well 🙂

We skipped dessert at the restaurant, but later on at home I wanted something else, so I made myself a little birthday treat!

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How cute is that? 🙂

I had a great birthday and I know that 28 is going to be the best age yet!

Eating and drinking locally

For dinner tonight, I got to meet an old friend and some of our other friends at Ramsi’s Cafe on the World, one of the BEST places to eat in Louisville.

I almost got the sloppy falafel again but I decided to branch out and try something new since they have so many vegan options there.

This time I got the roasted vegetable panini.

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This sandwich ROCKED! It contained portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, squashes and red onions, topped with vegan basil mayonnaise and vegan cheese served on homemade Cuban bread.

The only thing I think I would change about it is leave off the (vegan) cheese. Even though it was vegan, I just don’t really like eating cheese if I don’t have to. I loved the vegan mayo though!

The avocado spread that came with it was delicious too. Oh yeah and those potatoes. Great meal, I was very pleased 🙂

After dinner, we walked next door to Heine Brothers, one of our local coffee shops. I got their pumpkin pie latte with soymilk, which I was happy to discover is vegan (the syrup at Starbucks contains dairy!) after I inquired about it on their website earlier this week.

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This was so tasty! I think I liked it better than Starbucks (gasp). Plus I think I just love the fact that both places I went tonight were local.

OH! I almost forgot to mention the totally awesome 4 mile run I had today. Yeah. The weather was perfect and I felt great!

The one thing I noticed I am struggling with though is breathing. If I could keep it steady and regular, I wouldn’t have as hard of a time. It comes and goes but right now I feel like I’m gasping for air a lot.

If you are a runner (or aspiring runner), what is your biggest struggle? Body aches, fatigue, breathing, or something else?

Holy falafel!

Hey guys, hope this finds you enjoying a nice relaxing Sunday! The weather here is amazing, I think some time outside later is definitely in order 😉

So after I last left you, I took a glorious 2 hour nap and then got ready for my girl’s night out. Before I left, I snacked on some popcorn because I was so hungry. It held me well since we didn’t have dinner until after 9:00!

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This was on sale buy one get one free at Fresh Market and I just couldn’t pass that up. It didn’t even taste like popcorn out of the bag, it was delicious and fresh!

Dinner at Ramsi’s was good too. I always enjoy a night out with the girls. We were going to do something afterwards but we ended up talking so much that we left the restaurant at 11:30! But it was so worth it.

We started off with some foccacia (italian flatbread spiked with herbs and EVOO, topped with feta and parmesan cheese tomatoes and pesto)…sorry for the blurry cell phone pics. Camera batteries died!

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I had two and a half pieces of this and then for my main order, I got the sloppy falafel. I almost ordered a side salad but I’m glad I didn’t because this was a lot of food!

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The falafel is homemade and is stuffed into two pita halves with hummus (on the bottom) and topped with tomato-cucumber relish. On the side were fried potatoes and vegan cucumber yogurt sauce. So except for the foccacia, I had a vegan meal!

I liked this a lot, it was a bit spicy which surprised me for some reason. I picked the relish off the second half (didn’t care much for it) and didn’t quite finish it, but almost. I ate most of the potatoes but not all. Basically when I started to feel stuffed I stopped eating 🙂

I have to say though…as a falafel connoisseur, I honestly think while this was very good, I prefer Shiraz. See a good pic of that on this post.

Have a great day everyone!