A Week in the Life – Spreading the Message

I began my A Week in the Life series with a lot of preamble about conscious consumerism and the impact our choices have on the environment and on those around us. I spoke of our tendency to remain purposely disillusioned about the food on our plates and the clothes on our backs. I challenged everyone to be more aware.

I’ve been thinking a lot more about the message of sustainability this week as I finally watched Cowspiracy and the new, related documentary, What the Health. I’ve also been doing quite a bit of research for an upcoming post on protein, which people often think is the most elusive dietary requirement (spoiler: it’s not). There is so much information readily available, but not everyone chooses to seek it out.

Veganism as a means to sustainability, environmental stability, and optimal health is something I’m truly passionate about, yet I feel caught in a struggle between quietly adopting new personal practices, and spreading the message about what I’m doing and why it’s beneficial. No one wants to be that person who aggressively promotes their own agendas. You may have heard the joke, “An atheist, a vegan, and a Crossfitter walk into a bar. I know because they told everyone.” Vegans are generally viewed as annoying, and they can be. I can be. I don’t want to be, of course, but I’m also uncomfortable if I don’t voice my opinions when appropriate. This is, in part, why I started this blog, and why I launched my Facebook page to share research and articles. I strongly believe that people cannot be forced to change, but that people must want to change, and will be more inclined to do so if they are surrounded by positive examples of change.

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Golden Zucchini Fritters

I don’t know why, but the word fritter has always rubbed me the wrong way. I think it conjures memories of some cold, soggy, congealed fritters I had when I was younger. They’re usually either too eggy or too greasy or too soggy.

I’m really selling you guys on these fritters, aren’t I? Bear with me here.

I had a lot of zucchini in the fridge that wasn’t looking too happy, and normally when that happens I would bake up some chocolate zucchini bread, but that wasn’t an option this time since I’m trying to cure my addiction to refined sugar. A sugar-free zucchini bread recipe is for another day. Anyway, I thought I’d revisit my nemesis fritters, as it would be an easy way to use up those zucchini. And thus, this vegan fritter recipe was born. They’re pretty perfect and may have changed my mind on the fritter front. If you’re not a fan of fritters either, I think these will make you feel differently too.

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A Week in the Life – Smoothie Overload

First of all, I just want to apologize for this post being a little later than its usual Sunday evening. I’ve been busy trying out some new recipes and perfecting my iPhone photography skills (they’re still not great) so I haven’t gotten around to posting this week’s food log. I had great success with my recipes for Summer Vegetable Israeli Couscous and Gloriously Meaty Tempeh Balls. I also made some crazy Italian sausages for a friend’s barbecue, along with a killer potato salad from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbooks. Seriously, you guys need to check out her recipes because she is the reigning queen of indulgent vegan cooking.

This week marks the third week of the #6spoonsinjune challenge, whereby I try to limit my added sugar intake to just 6 teaspoons or 24 grams per day. I’m proud to say I haven’t exceeded this limit, yet my sugar cravings remain. My mind continues to be occupied by visions of Ben&Jerry’s PB&Cookies non-dairy ice-cream on an almost constant basis. But I’ve held strong. I’ve instead been curbing my cravings with smoothies, which is essentially my only exposure to fruit (until I discovered melon salad with lime juice later in the week) and sugar outside of my mandatory Starbucks soy lattes for which they regrettably use sweetened soy milk. Anyway, keep on reading to see how many smoothies I’ve been drinking and how little I’ve really been eating because I legit get lost in my own head and totally forget.

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Gloriously Meaty Tempeh Balls

My comfort food is a hot-off-the-pan, melty, gooey, crispy, greasy, grilled cheese sandwich. French fries are pretty good at assuaging my pain too. As are ice-cream (cookie-dough, please), chocolate-chip cookies, and mac’n’cheese. For some people, solace can be found in a heaping plate of Nonna’s spaghetti, smothered in slow-simmered sugo and topped with gloriously meaty meat balls. This recipe is for those people.

One of the most difficult things about adopting a vegan lifestyle is figuring out how to authentically create your favourite foods, the ones that bring you joy, that are always there for you no matter what. No one should have to give up the foods they love. What would be the point of life? I want everyone to be able to enjoy a giant plate of cheesy nachos and stuff their faces with sticky chocolate cake. Being vegan does not mean you will miss out on anything, and it has become my mission to prove that to as many people as I can.

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Summer Vegetable Israeli Couscous with King Oyster Mushroom “Scallops”

Way in the back of the top shelf in my kitchen cupboard, I found a Bulk Barn bag of Israeli couscous. Sometimes also called pearl couscous, Israeli couscous is nothing like its fluffy, small-grained cousin that most people are used to. It’s essentially little balls of pasta that have a delightfully firm and chewy texture. Couscous is the perfect medium through which to showcase the diverse nature of vegetables, making them the true stars of the dish. I don’t like vegetables (But you’re vegan! Yes, I know, I know), so I’m always experimenting with ways of cooking them that don’t make me push them around my plate like a kid being forced to eat broccoli.

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A Week in the Life – 6 Spoons in June

I’m addicted to sugar. Sugar addiction is real, as real as an addiction to cigarettes or cocaine, and it effects your brain by tripping off the same pleasure centres. That Sugar Film has launched the 6 Spoons in June campaign to challenge its followers to limit their sugar intake to just 6 teaspoons (added or refined sugar) per day, or about 24g. I’ve always been pretty certain that I’m completely and totally addicted to sugar, and by embarking on this challenge this week, I’ve confirmed it. After just one day of no refined sugar, I began experiencing headaches, irritability, and severe cravings for cookies and ice-cream. I want ice-cream right now. I allowed myself fruit, and as much as I despise it, it became my saviour when my sugar cravings hit their peak. This challenge has also motivated me to pay closer attention to ingredient labels on packaged foods. Sugar is hiding everywhere, in the form of organic evaporated cane juice and organic brown rice syrup. It is hiding in your salt and vinegar chips, your whole-wheat sandwich bread, and in your low-fat vegetable crackers.

This week has been challenging, but I got through it, and I’m eager to make even better food choices next week. Towards the end of the week you’ll notice that I’ve done a lot of snacking, and that is because I hiked over 20km through the Bruce Peninsula and I desperately needed the energy. I am extremely out of shape, so my body is really aching, and I can’t even eat a stack of cookies to ease the pain in my sore muscles. Sigh. Anyway, read on to see what delicious food I’ve been eating this week!

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A Week in the Life – How to be Malnourished

My first week of documenting meals was easy. Eating is easy, and writing down what you eat is easy, but choosing the right things to eat is not. I’m straight up embarrassed by some of what you’re about to read. Some of this stuff is not even real food. Please do not judge me too harshly. Regardless, I’m glad I embarked on this endeavour because it’s been very enlightening, pushing me to adopt more mindful eating habits, and forcing me to think twice about eating that eighth chocolate chip cookie. I totally still ate it, but the point is this assignment made me think about it. Maybe next week I’ll reconsider. Seeing a log of every single food I put in my body also allowed me to confront ideas of nutrition and caloric intake. It really is a wonder that I am still alive and not overweight, especially for someone who leads a largely sedentary life.

So, without further ado, here is the detailed list of every food I’ve eaten in the past week. I’ve included recipes where applicable.

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A Week in the Life — Moving Toward Conscious Consumerism

I’ve decided to try something a little different. For people who subscribe to the typical omnivorous diet, it may be difficult to imagine what you could possibly eat for breakfast if not scrambled eggs or yogurt, and what you could possibly eat for dinner if not salmon or chicken breast. I totally understand. I still don’t really know what’s appropriate to eat, ever.

I want to document what I eat each day so I can illuminate the mystery and provide you with some ideas. Also, I eat really terribly and hopefully by publicly sharing my habits I can shame myself into doing better. I truly love being vegan and I can confidently say I will never again bring animals or their byproducts back into my diet. I don’t feel deprived. I don’t miss anything. And I truly believe adopting a vegan diet (or at least one not centred around meat) is the way to a sustainable future.

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