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One Healthy Decision Leads to Another

February 8, 2011

There’s a commercial that’s on TV a lot (I think it’s for Nutrigrain bars) where the theme is “one healthy decision leads to another.”  Though whether eating a Nutrigrain bar is a “healthy decision” is certainly debatable, I’ve found that this slogan rings true for me.

I’m 1.5 days into the Vegan for a Week challenge, and so far it’s going really well. One thing I’ve already noticed is that this challenge has made me a lot more conscious with my food choices.  On busy days like today, I often run to the coffee shop next to my office and drop $5-7 on a cappuccino and a scone or muffin to hold me over until lunch.   Since I was not sure whether any of their offerings were vegan (and I dislike soy milk), I planned ahead today and brought my own coffee and snacks from home.   I saved some money, and the food I packed was a lot healthier than a scone or muffin.

Focusing on this challenge has also motivated me to get back on track with working out.   I didn’t get my planned treadmill run/walk  in last night because of poor planning, so I got up extra early this morning and did it.  I really like the Tuesday night class at the yoga studio I go to, so I am still going to go to it tonight.  I think it should be a good compliment to my run – lots of stretching and hip-openers!

A glimpse at  few meals from the past 1.5 days:

Dinner last night – tofu and vegetable stir-fry with peanut sauce (I substituted orange juice for water in Emily’s peanut sauce recipe to give it a slightly sweet-and-sour flavor).  It was delicious!

This morning’s breakfast – Ezekiel raisin bread with almond butter + a tangerine.  This is my favorite breakfast even when I’m not eating vegan.

Part of today’s lunch (I also had leftover stir fry from last night): spinach salad with orange segments, pepitas and Annie’s pomegranate dressing (something about this tasted a little “off” – I think the spinach was past its prime)




Vegan for a Week Meal Plan Part I

February 7, 2011

Good morning!

Last night, I sat down with a glass of red wine, a pen, and a notebook and finalized my meal plan for my vegan for a week challenge:
I am planning to take pictures of at least one meal per day for the next week and posting a few new (vegan) recipes, but for now, here’s a preview of my plan for the first half of the week:


Two of my favorite breakfasts can easily be made vegan, so I’m going to alternate between toasted Ezekiel Raisin Bread with almond butter and steel cut oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit.   I usually put regular (cow’s) milk in my coffee, so I will substitute vanilla coconut milk instead.


Most of my lunches will be leftovers of dinner from the night before – sometimes remixed as salads or filling for wraps.  I also have a lunch date with a friend planned for tomorrow that may be a little more challenging.


Snacks and Desserts:

Look for a post later in the week!


Since I’m carefully planning out my meals for this week, I figured I’d also plan my workouts.  The weather really messed with my workout schedule last week – I ended up only doing half of my planned workouts.  I hope this week goes better! Here are my planned workouts for the first half of the week:

  • Monday: Run/Walk Couch to 10k Week 5 Day 1
  • Tuesday: Yoga class (75 minute vinyasa flow)
  • Wednesday: Run/Walk Couch to 10K Week 5 Day 2 + short lifting session


Do you make meal plans for the week ahead?  Do you have any tips for meal planning or for vegan eating?

Grocery Shopping for Vegan for a Week: My Fridge Runneth Over!

February 6, 2011

(I’m participating in the Vegan for a Week/#7dayvegan Challenge – for more on how I plan to approach the challenge, see this post.)

This afternoon, I spent about an hour putting together a vegan meal plan for the coming week.  I went through my cupboards and refrigerator and was surprised to realize I had a lot of vegan products and ingredients on hand already.  I made a grocery list for the items I still need, then went shopping:

There’s more produce not pictured: baby spinach, onions, baby potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, and more baby carrots, oranges, and apples.  These are all fruits and vegetables I buy normally, but I bought them in larger quantities than usual since most of my meals will be vegetable-based.

I was really happy to find out my favorite bread was vegan!  I am kind of addicted to Ezekiel raisin bread – I eat it for breakfast at least 3-4 times a week.

These are the only items I bought that were out of the ordinary for me.  I’m going to use the coconut milk in my coffee and oatmeal in place of regular cow’s milk.  The cherry amaretto coconut dessert was a (delicious) impulse buy, as was the dark chocolate.  (I am 99% sure it’s vegan… but need to look it up to make sure.  If not, I will save it for a week.)

I was surprised to find out (via Twitter) that not all wine and beer are vegan.   Several people pointed the #7dayvegan challengers to, which listed Botham Vineyards (a Southern Wisconsin winery) as vegan-friendly, so of course I felt obliged to try it.  🙂

To my surprise, even with the extra produce and splurging on a bottle of wine, my groceries for this week actually ended up a little less expensive than usual.  With my refrigerator bursting with fresh produce and my cupboards full of vegan-friendly foods, I feel pretty good about starting this challenge tomorrow morning.

Vegan for a Week Challenge

February 4, 2011

Morgan at Life After Bagels is hosting a Vegan For a Week challenge starting on Monday, February 7 and I’ve decided to join in.  (Thanks Sarah for bringing it to my attention.)  From Monday through Sunday of this coming week, I will try to eat vegan (no animal products, including dairy and eggs.)  I think this challenge will be a great time to try new recipes and ingredients and to reflect on my dietary choices.  I know it won’t be easy–particularly since I live in the land of cheese–but I think it will be a fun and fascinating challenge.

Here’s my plan to prepare for and engage in the challenge:

This weekend (pre-challenge):

  • Go through my cupboards and refrigerator and figure out what I have on hand already that’s already vegan.
  • Try to use up and/or properly store things that aren’t vegan so that this challenge doesn’t result in wasted food.
  • Make a meal plan for the week:
    • I will definitely be looking for recipes on sites like Peas and Thank You (Mama Pea just launched a weekly vegan meal plan series!), Oh She Glows, the Daily Garnish, and Love Veggies and Yoga
    • I may buy a vegan cookbook or two at Barnes and Noble (cookbooks = big weakness of mine!)
    • If you have any ideas for recipes, sites, or cookbooks, please let me know!
  • Grocery shop on Sunday night

During the Challenge (Monday, February 7-Sunday, February 13)

  • Try to eat vegan from Monday morning through Sunday  night.
  • Blog daily about what I ate during the challenge (probably not every meal, but at least a snapshot of one meal a day).
  • Join in on the discussion via Twitter tag #7dayvegan

After the Challenge:

  • Reflect on and blog about what I learned during the challenge

Is anyone else joining in?

Snow Day!

February 3, 2011

The university canceled classes yesterday and the roads were practically impassable until mid-afternoon, so Brian and I enjoyed an
unexpected day off together.

Our apartment complex has a small gym in the main building that’s about a block away from our apartment, so we thought we’d walk there when we woke up to get a nice workout in. I looked out around 11 am and saw this:

The footprints looked pretty deep, and they trailed off a few feet past the edge of this picture, as if someone had just given up, turned around, and walked back to their apartment. Then I realized the snowman that someone had built a few weeks ago (which is roughly person-sized) was up to his torso in snow.  (It also looks like he’s yelling for help, which makes me laugh!)

A few hours later, I heard the joyous sound of a snow blower and looked out to see this guy struggling to uncover the sidewalk inch-by-inch:

On days like yesterday, the convenience of not having to shovel/snowblow/curse the 17 inches of snow that was drifting as high as 4-6 feet in some places totally makes up for all of the inconveniences of apartment living!

When we finally made it to the workout room around 2:30, it was PACKED!!  I guess many of our neighbors decided to take advantage of their day off by working out, too!  I did about 10 minutes on the elliptical while I waited for a treadmill to free up, then did 40 minutes of walking/running intervals.  I was slower and got more winded than before I got sick, but it was SO NICE to be able to finish a workout.

I am REALLY looking forward to yoga tonight!  It’s been 2 weeks since I last practiced, and I have been missing it so badly.

Why I didn’t go to yoga tonight…

February 1, 2011

8:30 pm

9:30 pm

We’re in the middle of a blizzard!  The graininess you see in those pictures is not from my camera; that’s blowing snow.  It sounds like a hurricane out there.  Classes are canceled tomorrow, which is a relief because I was really worried about how I was going to get to campus safely in the morning!  Now I’m excited about a snow day to sleep in (a little), get caught up on paperwork, and hang out with my fiance.

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookie Dough Balls

January 30, 2011

After buying (delicious!) baked goods at the coffee shop next to my office twice last week, I realized I need to come up with some healthier sweet snacks to take with me on days when I’m on campus all day.  Inspired by Mama Pea’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls and Averie’s 5 Minute Raw Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, I came up with:

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookie Dough Balls

  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup nuts (pecans, almonds, and/or cashews would work well)
  • 4-6 medjool dates, pitted and quartered
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)

I put the oats into my mini food processor and processed them until they were coarsely ground:

Then, I added the nuts and processed them until they made a coarse, sandy mixture:

I added the dates, cranberries, orange zest, and almond extract and processed until they were well incorporated into the “dough.”

At this point, though the mixture will look like wet, grainy sand, you should be able to condense it into dough balls with your fingers.  If it won’t stick together, try adding another date and processing until it’s well-incorporated into the dough.

This recipe made 8 small (tablespoon-sized) dough balls.  With the ingredients I used, I calculated that each ball has about 86 calories.  They’re pretty calorie-dense, but that’s what I wanted because I want to be able to take one or two and eat them as an afternoon snack.

(There are only 7 dough balls in this picture, because I ate one before I took it.  They were too good not to try!)