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What I've learned about being vegan for a week:

1) Get ready to do a lot of reading. Between looking up vegan recipes for the food that I wanted to eat as well as reading ingredient labels in the supermarket, there's a surprising amount of reading for this lifestyle. I have to look up whether certain brands of bread or yogurt were considered vegan (since it's not specified on the label but a quick look-through of the ingredients confirmed that all of them were plant-based), so I've even had to read message boards (shudder) and r/vegan (double shudder)

2) Unless you want to pay a lot of money for pre-made and highly processed vegan meals, be sure to have enough time for meal-prep and actual cooking. This past week, I made a lot of food at home, which is the optimal situation for a baby vegan, I think. While the actual recipes aren't difficult, there's a lot of pre-cooking preparation that needs to be done, such as peeling and cutting vegetables, soaking beans and grains, etc.

For me, what helped was that when I realized this was the situation, I just went ahead and made a big batch of that recipe so that I could eat it for several meals. Like, when I prepped the butternut squash for the pasta sauce, I peeled and cut the entire thing, roasted all of them in the oven and then separated the squash for portions for the sauce and another portion just to eat as roasted vegetables. The nice thing about this procedure is that the vegetables actually stay okay in the refrigerator for a few days (and could even be put in the freezer for future use) and actually taste better the day or two after they're cooked.

3) Learn to love different spices and condiments. I have a new affinity for nutritional yeast. Before this week, I've only used it in popcorn but I've since learned that it's an acceptable cheese replacement. So, each time I made pasta with a vegan sauce, I would top it with a good handful of nutritional yeast and just be so happy.

4) The blender will become your friend. Between making sauces and smoothies, I think I use my blender several times a day.

4a) A smoothie is a great way to load up on greens. Add more vegetables than fruits to your smoothie otherwise you're just consuming liquid sugar calories.

5) Most vegan food looks gross but is actually far more delicious than its non-vegan equivalent.

6) Carbs will be your friend. I love pasta and bread but I think to get the optimal outcomes from the vegan lifestyle, I need to moderate the amount of carbohydrates I consume. I should really pile on the salads and grains a lot more.

7) A lot of vegan food and ingredients can be pricey, so be prudent in the grocery and don't buy every single thing if you don't need it at the moment or don't know how to use it or if you don't know if you'll like it.

7a) Try at least one new vegan product each time you go food shopping so you'll get a sense of what you like and what you don't. For me, the So Delicious coconut yogurt is a NO, but the Silk yogurt (despite not being certified vegan) is a big fat yes.
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Bold the ones you have and use at least once a year, italicize the ones you have and don't use, strike through the ones you have had but got rid of.

I wonder how many pasta machines, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese knives, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic presses, margarita glasses, tea strainers, bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders, milk frothers, piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers (bains marie), sukiyaki stoves, food processors, ice cream makers, takoyaki makers, and fondue sets languish dustily at the back of the nation's cupboards.
 
 

In my defense, a lot of the things that I own and don't use are gifts. I guess once I became an 'adult,' people realized that I like to cook (and eat) so they started giving me little things that they thought I would appreciate, if not necessarily use.

This summer was when I tried to make full use of the ice cream maker. I made four ice creams, and then had to stop when I realized I was the only one eating it. They were such awesome flavors too: mango, avocado, Thai ice tea, and a plum sorbet. M totally missed out in not sampling them.
reika: photo of butter, eggs, and a whisk (baking)
Combining two things that I love.
As it is, there’s not a lot of English-licensed food manga out there. Thus, at the least, I’d like people to start from Oishinbo and head on from there. Those who have other titles and other food manga experiences in mind will be welcomed as well!

But what makes food manga? Simply put, it’s a manga that’s centered around food. It may have a running story line but at the end of the day the people are either talking mostly about how food is made or how a particular restaurant dish tastes like. It’s still a small genre in English but we’re hoping, after this MMF, we can inspire more people to appreciate food manga.

More details here.
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One of the best restaurants over all is Phayul, up a narrow staircase, next to a hair salon, and usually packed. The husband-and-wife team who run the place, Chime Tendha and Dawa Lhamo, serve a typical mix of true Tibetan recipes and the Indian- and Chinese-accented dishes that have become comfort food for the community. Chili Chicken, a spicy stir-fry of green peppers, golden chicken, purple onions and red chile paste, is on almost every table, along with momos and sepen, a fiery blend of dried chiles, garlic and cilantro. [Source]
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Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up anything at all. It’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it. You can eat a cheeseburger mindfully, if you wish. You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough. Or that it really needs some salad.


The NYTimes writes up mindful eating, and quotes one of the speakers whom I heard at SPSP two weeks ago. I know this entire practice sounds so hippie, but I actually think it's v. interesting.
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I woke up later than usual Sunday morning and the first thing on my mind was that I wanted to eat. So, off we went to Purple Yam for Filipino brunch of tosilog and lumpia shanghai.

I wanted to try to be somewhat productive for the upcoming week, so I decided to clean out my pantry (and then realized that there was nothing in there except a two shelves' worth of spices) and finally got down to making granola. I used Elie Krieger's recipe this time around; I swapped out agave syrup for the maple syrup and used a mixture of almonds, golden raisins, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds in addition to the oatmeal. The mixture doesn't result in big clumps of granola, but I thought it tasted pretty good considering it didn't really have any oil or brown sugar added. I should just make a note not to add the raisins till the very end 'cause those suckers burn so quickly.

And since I believe that most green leafy vegetables would make a good pesto, I tried it with arugula this time around. It wasn't too bad, a little stronger than the basil or parsley versions that are more my usual. Mix it with a little bit of pasta and you're good to go.
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The NYTimes writes up Downton Abbey viewing parties.
The last dinner served to first-class passengers on the Titanic inspired a party to be held this Sunday in Brooklyn, hosted by Liz Kingman, 31, the membership manager at the American Folk Art Museum. For dessert, Ms. Kingman plans to make the apple charlotte requested in one episode by a suitor of Lady Mary Crawley. “Fancy dress and hats will be strongly encouraged,” she said, “as will scheming and marrying for money.”


First look at Talde - I think Dale Talde is a little cocky for his own good, but I am curious about the food at his new place. It's not too far from my apartment so maybe when I'm in a chef-f--kery mood, I'll drag the boy along to try it.
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Had many wonderful meals in Montreal. I wasn't going to let the snow and cold stop me from eating well.

- Quebecois flammekeuche (onions, bacon, Quebec raclette cheese) and beer at Les 3 Brasseurs
- Huge vegetarian sandwich at Cafe Santropol
- Pickled tongue, poutine with foie gras, and lots more meat at Au Pied de Cochon
- Smoked meat at Schwartz's
- Dumplings at Qing Hua in Chinatown
- Real life food pron at Marche Jean-Talon
- Lots of bagels at St. Viateur's
reika: (reika)
One of the habits that I'd like to develop this year is to get used bringing my lunch into work. Buying lunch takes out a considerable bite out of my budget, and generally, I've found myself getting bored of the food options around the office. I know that I won't be able to stop eating out entirely, but for now, I'd like to dial it back to only once a week. Let's see how successful I'll be with this goal.

Monday - bagel with egg & cheese
Wednesday - leftover pasta puttanesca
Thursday - garlic eggplant with rice
Friday - romaine, munster cheese and avocado sandwich, cinnamon sugar pita chips
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Shanghai's top restaurants - my friend Andrew refuses to eat xiao long bao anymore since he feels he can't get a good one outside Shanghai

How to cook 20 vegetables - this is helpful; I'd like to get into the habit of eating a greater variety of vegetables
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Village Voice review of Maharlika

Only in the Philippines can something like this receive so much acclaim
The restaurant opens and closes unexpectedly and its elusiveness has added to its buzz.

According to him, cooking is therapeutic, and he uses the menu to share what he calls his “bipolar diet.” Ingredients include ones that he says affect mood, such as salmon, honey, cabbage, nuts and tea, which evolved into recipes and dishes.
reika: avatar of four espresso cups (cups)
What's your coffee history? A fun discussion over at [personal profile] rilina

A Field Guide to Obnoxious Eating (WSJ)
I confess, I'm one of those people who eat at their desk even though the office kitchen is twenty steps away. I just don't like people watching me eat, and I'd rather spend my time surfing the web while I munch on my sandwich, if that's all right with you. At the same time, I try to be considerate and eat fast, just in case some of my cubicle mates are picky.

I had ambitions to make my own birthday cake. Maybe next year.

Because I'm obviously obsessed, I've started watching Jamie Oliver's "30 Minute Meals" show on Youtube. I think of myself as a pretty capable cook, but there's no way that I can make a main, a side and/or salad, plus dessert in half an hour. First off, my kitchen isn't that big and it would take more than 30 minutes to prep everything. It must be nice to be a tv chef.
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- One of the greengrocers was selling papayas for cheap (since it was already quite overripe); bought one and made papaya milk. I was immediately brought back to my childhood back home when papaya milk was a special summer treat.

- Needed to use up the last of my sweet potatoes, so I decided to make a puree soup with the sweet potatoes, carrots, and some butternut squash. Mixed it up with the immersion blender, and added some coconut milk and chicken broth. I decided not to add any spices to it other than a little bit of salt since I wanted the taste of the vegetables to come through. Though I'm sure cumin or maybe a little bit of curry would be nice. I also prefer to eat things a little blander than what most people prefer.
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Why do people think short weeks are easier? I don't mind the extra day off, but weeks have felt so long all of 2011 and I don't think that's going to change anytime soon.

And that's why this MM post is being written on Thursday. I had a mostly meatless Monday, just flubbed breakfast (since I was at my mom's and you just don't say no when your mommy offers you food; at least I don't) but rest of the day was good.

I actually have even been going mostly vegetarian on other days too. I went out twice this week with two pescatarians and had interesting conversations about food with each of them.
reika: avatar of four espresso cups (Default)
It gets easier, especially if I am conscious that Monday is no-meat day, and if I also prepare food during the weekend. Both the oatmeal and the curry were prepared in my trusty crockpot, which has made preparing certain dishes so foolproof and easy.

Breakfast: Oatmeal with rice milk & brown sugar
Lunch: Thai vegetarian curry with white rice
Snack: peppermint latte & banana
Dinner: same as lunch

--

I'm thinking of raising the bar for myself; instead of just going meatless on Mondays, how about going meatless for most of the week? I remember Mark Bittman proposing not eating meat during the day (ie., breakfast & lunch) and then, if necessary, eating meat for dinner. I think I can do that...?
reika: avatar of four espresso cups (Default)
Another week to give this a try:

Breakfast: coffee, blueberry muffin
Lunch: half of a portabello sandwich, coffee
Snack: Raisinets

--

I also should try to contain myself on the coffee. Ever since we went to Portland, I feel like a day hasn't gone by when I haven't had at least a couple of cups.

On the other hand, this is shaping up to be a challenging semester so maybe I'll need all the help that I can get.
reika: avatar of four espresso cups (Default)
Another FAIL Monday. Had a super early start with an 8 am class, skipped lunch, ran back to school for a 6 pm class, and home to leftover Chinese food. Forgive me, MM gods. My brain just shut down once evening class ended and I wasn't even thinking about Meatless Monday anymore.

Maybe I should make an alarm or alert to remind myself on what I should do (and not do) on Mondays.
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This entry is a few days late, as the boyfriend and I flew back to NY on a red-eye from Portland that morning.

I had coffee, and toast with marionberry jam, and penne with brussels sprouts & garlic for dinner.

As I thought, it is becoming easier to eat meatless. I actually even prefer to eat meatless during lunch for work on other days; I don't feel as stuffed or bloated. I still don't think I can permanently give up meat or dairy or eggs, but I see it as a small achievement if I can keep up meatless monday for at least 3 months, if not more.
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FAIL. Totally forgot that today was Monday (our office was closed today, so it didn't feel like a Monday) and since I stayed at my mom's overnight, I was more than happy to eat whatever she put in front of me, not caring whether it had meat or not.

Will get back on the wagon next week.
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I thought it was going to be easier the second week around, but yesterday was actually a challenging Meatless Monday. I went out with friends to a beer-tasting event, and it was rough watching them consume the charcuterie and sausages while I just nibbled on the cheese.

To make things somewhat worse, we passed by a Japanese bakery selling the day's leftover goods for $1.50/bag on the way home. I bought crullers and croissants and immediately scarfed two down on the walk to the subway. I don't think replacing meat for donuts is necessarily healthier.

Breakfast: coffee, 1 buttermilk scone
Lunch: paneer tikka masala with rice, mango lassi
Dinner: cheese, 2 cruller donuts
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