The Plant Rx

Your resource for a plant-based diet

Nikki

My name is Nikki and I am 37 years old and I am new to vegetarianism. I am a currently uneployed teacher and a repair shop business owner. I am happily married to a very supportive man who doesn’t necessarily agree with everything I do but supports me 100%. I have two beautiful little girls, aged 4 ½ and 2, that I hope someday will understand that most everything I do I do for them.  We also have two adorable little guinea pigs and two goldfish residing with us.

I grew up in an Italian/Irish family as a daughter of a principal and an office manager for a doctor’s office. My

Nikki & Hubby

parents were very into nutrition when my sister and I were young. Dinners often consisted of homemade meals made with soy protein, whole grains, vegetables and fruits as well as plenty of raw milk. As a child I was never allowed to have sugary cereals or too much candy on Halloween. I don’t know if this is why I later became obese, turned to food when I was stressed, 1and became addicted to white sugar?

I have been on just about every diet out there at some point in my life. Some of these diets include Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, South Beach, Biggest Loser, Suzanne Somers, and Sugar Busters. etc. I am basically a career dieter. What diet have I missed? The only diet I stayed on for the long term was Weight Watchers. I have actually lost 80 pounds on Weight Watchers but then I came to a point where I just couldn’t lose anymore. I was frustrated and I basically stayed the same for many months.

I joined Netflix and rented “Supersize Me” which completely grossed me out and made me vow never to step a foot into a McDonald’s ever again (including not allowing my daughter’s to ever eat there again). Then I wanted to see more so I rented Food Inc. That was a real eye opener! Then one of my girl friends suggested that I read “Skinny Bitch” but she warned me, “Once you read it, you will never want to eat meat again.” I don’t know why but I was intrigued. I was never a huge meat eater but I enjoyed an occasional filet mignon. I liked my bacon extra crispy and I enjoyed an In N’ Out hamburger “animal style” as much as the next person. So, I read “Skinny Bitch” and was completely astonished at the disgusting realities of the meat and dairy industry. I started out by giving up one thing a week so that I didn’t feel like I was being deprived. I gave up red meat, then poultry, then coffee, then white sugar, you get the picture. Then I decided that since my eyes were wide open I needed to read as much as I could about the subject so I bought the book “The Kind Diet” and then I purchased “The China Study” on my IPOD. I am currently still reading this book and it is so interesting and informative.

I can’t believe that I was basically living life in a bubble and I was very misinformed which I think is true of a lot of people. Either they know what is going on and choose to ignore it or have no idea what is going on. I can’t believe we were made to think that milk “does a body good” and that we need it. People actually believe that if we do not drink milk we will not have enough calcium or if we do not eat meat we will not get enough iron. I have now realized that there are many other ways to get the nutrients we need. I love trying new vegetables like bok choy, kale, greens, sprouts, dandelion greens and collards. You can actually live and thrive without eating meat or dairy. It’s amazing! I have just started on this journey and can’t wait to see where it takes me next!

The reason I have decided to be a part of the mini experiment is because I have recently become vegetarian and I know that I have so much more to learn about my new way of life. I am only beginning to understand the benefits of being a vegetarian/vegan and I am excited to get some support and share my journey to a healthier me! I am thrilled with my new adventure and I know there are others out there like me who probably need to adopt a better lifestyle because of health reasons or to lose some weight and I only hope that I can help them with their journey too.

Getting Started

1/5/11

I am getting excited and nervous to begin on my Vegan journey. I have been Vegetarian for a few months now. I have cut most everything from my diet except fish and occasional dairy. I think it will be difficult at first but I do have a lot of support. The two main things I will have to be careful of is packaged/processed foods and eating out. I will have to be very careful about what I am buying and putting in my mouth. I think part of this process will be learning to plan ahead and make homemade meals so I know what ingredients are in them.

Good Decisions:

1/9/11 This weekend I made better choices eating out in the hopes of preparing myself for going completely vegan next week.  I went to dinner and a movie with my best friend, Monica on Saturday evening. We saw The Fighter, which was a great movie! We ate dinner at The Veggie Grill which is a completely vegan restaurant at the Irvine Spectrum. I had a Mothership Wit beer and a Portobello wrap. I feel like I made a good decision on the restaurant I decided to eat at as well as the choice I made at the restaurant. Today my family and I went to Disneyland – not the best or easiest place to make good vegan choices. My sister, who is vegetarian, has eaten at the Bengal barbecue and so I wanted to try it out but they were closed today. So we ended up at Cafe Orleans. Pretty much everything on their menu has chicken or fish but I questioned them how the Vegetable Ratatouille was prepared and they said they use a marinara sauce base with olive oil roasted veggies on top and seasonings. It comes with corn cakes and cheese on top which I opted not to get, sticking with my vegan choices. I had a nice glass of water with lemon to finish off the meal. See, you can make a good choice at an amusement park. I think this way of life might be easier than I originally thought…

1/16/11 We officially started two days ago and things are going pretty well for me. I have been planning my dinners ahead for sometime now so that is probably the easiest mealtime. I started right off the bat on Saturday evening with a night out to the Stadium Brewery. I enjoyed 2 glasses of red wine a piece of sourdough bread without butter, and a vegetable parfait tower – which was quite yummy, I might add! It had a Portobello mushroom, asparagus, grilled onions, chickpeas, basil and butternut squash puree. For dessert, my sister and I went over to Native Foods, a local vegan restaurant, and had a vegan cupcake. I personally thought that the icing was way too sweet but the cake part was tasty. Then this morning I also went out to breakfast at Proud Mary’s for my dad’s birthday. I meant to bring some soymilk so I could have oatmeal, but lo and behold grabbed juice instead. Instead I enjoyed a bowl of mixed fruit and some dry wheat toast with strawberry jam. We also attended two birthday parties this weekend, one of which had hummus and carrots to snack on, thank god! For dinner, I made one of the first homemade vegan meals. Both my husband and my youngest daughter loved this Ultimate Vegan Lasagna, as did I. My older daughter made a face, but no surprise there, she pretty much dislikes all food except for waffles, macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. So far so good – we will see what the work week brings…

1/17/11 I started off today with a big bowl of oatmeal topped off with some almond milk and dates. It was very good and satisfying! I ran errands today since the girls were out of school so we went to Ruby’s for lunch and I brought my own Veggie Delite sandwich from Subway. I walked around the mall afterwards with my girls. I had to go to dinner at the in-laws for my father-in-law’s birthday tonight and on the menu was lasagna, salad, and rosemary olive bread. I brought my own vegan lasagna (still tastes great the second day!) and also had some salad and one piece of bread without any butter. I had a glass of white wine as well. While everyone sang Happy Birthday and enjoyed a slice of cake and ice cream, I sat down with a scoop of Purely Decadent: Cookie Avalanche dessert. It was divine! My sister-in-law tried a piece of my lasagna and said it was good and she wanted the recipe – score! I am finding that it is pretty easy to bring the things that I can eat wherever I go. Also it is important to plan ahead and bring some snacks so that you aren’t starving.

1/18/11 Things are going pretty well so far. I packed my lunch today so I could make wise choices while I was at work. It is hard to be at the shop (an automotive repair shop) because there is salt water taffy on the shelf and almond roca and cookies everywhere. The good thing is I have checked the labels and all of the above sweets contain either eggs or milk so I can’t have them. I still feel fat, like I haven’t lost any weight and I guess it means I should get up early and go back to working out. If I could just make a plan, I think it would be better.

On a positive note, I found this great site that actually delivers vegan food to you. www.gobblegreen.com Check it out! I ordered a Vegan starter kit for a week. I will let you know how the food actually tastes as soon as I try it.

Pros:   Homemade Vegan food delivered to your doorstep, minimal preparation required, minimal mock meats used, the company provides ingredients and nutritional information on each meal

Cons:  might be expensive for some

Also www.lizlovely.com has Vegan cookies and other goodies. They are made in Vermont and you can order a gift set online.  They are priced between $18.95 and $38.95. Again, I ordered some so will let you know after the intial taste test. 🙂 Looks like they are also sold at Rainbow Acres and Mother’s Markets all over the place.

1/19/11 This is the fifth day of the Vegan diet and things are going well. I made Vanessa’s hummus sandwich for lunch today at school. I spread hummus on one piece of bread and roasted red pepper tapenade on the other slice. Then I filled the sandwich with spinach and cucumbers. It was so good! Thanks Vanessa for the yummy recipe! For dinner tonight I made Stir fried udon noodles with bok choy – they were super yummy! My whole family enjoyed eating it.

Ultimate Vegan Lasagna:  Serves 8

Filling

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 10-oz. bag fresh baby spinach
  • 2 12-oz. pkgs. firm tofu, drained
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. vegan cream cheese
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

Lasagna

  • 5 ½ cups Speedy Red Sauce
  • 12 uncooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  • 12 oz. vegan Italian sausage links, cut into thin rounds, or soy sausage crumbles, broken apart
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella flavor rice or soy cheese (3 oz.)

Directions

1. To make Filling: Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and garlic in oil 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Add spinach, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer spinach mixture to bowl of food processor. Add tofu, cream cheese, basil, and nutritional yeast, and purée until mixture is thick and smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

2. Spread one-quarter of Speedy Red Sauce recipe on bottom of 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Cover with one-third of noodles (4 or 5 noodles), then half of Filling, and ladle on another one-quarter of sauce. Repeat layer of noodles and remaining Filling. Spread sausage evenly over top, and top with one-quarter of sauce. Finish with final layer of noodles and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

3. Cover lasagna with foil, and bake 30 minutes, or until bubbling hot. Uncover, and bake 15 to 20 minutes more, or until noodles are tender and topping is melted. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information

Per 2-x-3-inch slice: Calories: 508, Protein: 33g, Total fat: 19g, Saturated fat: 3g, Carbs: 60g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 817mg, Fiber: 13g, Sugars: 10g

SPEEDY RED SAUCE:

Makes 5 1/2 cups

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 12-oz. jar roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 small onions, diced (2 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. dried basil or 3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 28-oz. can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes

Directions

1. Purée roasted red peppers in food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, and sauté 5 minutes, or until golden. Add basil and garlic, and sauté 1 minute more. Stir in tomatoes and roasted red pepper purée. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Simmer 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Nutritional Information

Per 1/2-cup serving: Calories: 53, Protein: 2g, Total fat: 1g, Saturated fat: <1g, Carbs: 10g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 352mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 6g

Note: I would double the Speedy Red Sauce for next time and use a deeper casserole dish than 13 x9.

Stir-Fried Udon Noodles with Bok Choy

Vegetarian Times Issue: October 1, 2007   p.32   —   Member Rating: 1111

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Japanese udon noodles replace spaghetti or linguine in an Asian-flavored pasta.

Ingredient List

Serves 4

  • 1 8-oz. pkg. udon noodles, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks (1/2 cup)
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. Asian-flavored baked tofu, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 medium head bok choy, cut into 1-inch pieces (3 cups)
  • 2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice

Directions

1. Cook udon noodles according to package directions. Drain.

2. Heat oil, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in skillet or wok 1 minute over medium heat. Add carrot, and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add tofu, and stir-fry 1 minute. Add bok choy, and stir-fry 5 minutes, or until greens wilt. Fold in udon noodles and soy sauce, and cook 3 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Nutritional Information

Per SERVING: Calories: 406, Protein: 23g, Total fat: 14.5g, Saturated fat: 2g, Carbs: 47g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 492mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 3g

So, there are two good recipes for you to try. The Udon Noodles literally takes 30 minutes to make.

1/20/11 Today I planned our meals for the week and a few things I plan on making include Roasted Veggie Salad, Soba Noodle Salad with Radicchio, Portobello Burgers and Butternut Squash Risotto. Tonight we had leftover lasagna and it was still very tasty! I will definitely make that recipe again sometime in the near future. I am also so excited because my VitaMix was delivered today! I cannot wait to make my first green juice in this huge powerful machine from the heavens! I will keep you updated with how that goes. You can check the machine out at www.vitamix.com Today I had another hummus sandwich, my new fave thing to have for lunch thanks to Vanessa! 🙂 I also took a field trip to Mother’s with my husband after work to purchase a few necessities. We got Bragg’s liquid aminos after everyone has been raving about them. It is so cool to see my husband walking down the grocery store aisle with me, his eyes full of wonder at all the cool stuff they have at Mother’s. I think he is finally getting into this. We purchased a bunch of veggies and fruits and some more soy milk. I have also decided, now that my littlest daughter is about to turn 2 and has completely weaned herself off of a bottle at night, that I am going to stop serving milk to my kids. They will drink soymilk for the time being and we will see where that road leads us.

1/21/11 I can’t believe we have been at this almost 1 week already. My stomach was really feeling the change today. This morning I made a green smoothie with my new Vitamix and then had a hummus & veggie sandwich for lunch and celery and almond butter and toasted nori for snack and butternut squash risotto for dinner. Then I made the mistake of eating a few Hot Tamales and they pushed me over the edge. My stomach was in a lot of pain for a majority of the day and I felt pretty crummy. I am hoping this too shall pass! I finally remembered we have the Align and I took one. It took quite a while before it started to work but as of now my stomach feels 100% better. Thanks Jenn for giving those to us!

1/22/11 WoW! I made it to a week! I have also lost 4 pounds! Oh and my husband noticed that my behind is going away which made me feel 10 times better! I feel great and energized. I have to give a shoutout to Vitamix because I just got my new blender and it is the most awesome machine ever! I made my first smoothie yesterday and it was not the best smoothie however the one I made today was quite good. It had strawberries, frozen banana, spinach and soy milk in it and even my girls liked it! 🙂 They kept asking for more. Vitamix has great customer service too and I can’t wait to see what other cool things this machine does besides make really yummy green smoothies.

Today we went into Los Angeles to take the kids to the Natural History museum. While we were there we ate at Real Food Daily which was a very nice Vegan restaurant in West Hollywood. My daughter Shelby liked the soba noodles while my daughter Bella enjoyed the black beans. My husband had the Club wrap and I tasted it too – it was very good with seitan (normally not my personal favorite but good in this case). I had The Real Food Bargain which came with miso soup (their miso soup is so yummy!), corn grain bread with carrot spread and the macrobiotic plate.  I seriously could eat this everyday – it was that good! Shane had the kukicha tea (good and very earthy), I had rice milk chai, and the girls had fresh squeezed apple juice. Shelby asked to go there again soon – a VERY good sign!

We got our exercise walking around the Natural History museum for 2 hours and my littlest daughter asked “what is that?” to everything she came into contact with – such wonder for a little girl. Bella said she loved meeting their live tortoise, Acorn and Shelby loved seeing all the dinosaurs and the birds. It was a great day!

We went to BabyCakes vegan bakery on our way out of Los Angeles. BabyCakes is located in downtown LA and unfortunately in a kind of scary neighborhood (scary enough that my husband wouldn’t park his BMW and get the girls out of the car). It is weird because once you walk into the door it is like you are transported into this quaint little town bakery. I was dying to try the Red Velvet Cupcake which I thought was good and a little dry. I loved the frosting, did not taste fake at all or too sugary. I have to say their chocolate chip cookies are too die for though! I will definitely be ordering some more of those! I also bought strawberry doughnuts and a banana agave loaf so will let you know my thoughts on those a little later. I am happy for myself at sticking with this plant-based diet, not cheating AT ALL, and making it through one week! Go me!

1/23/11 I have been making juices like crazy with my new wonder-machine. This morning we had blueberry, banana, and soy smoothies and for lunch we had cucumber/carrot juice. It literally pulverizes a carrot in a few seconds. My daughter’s 2nd birthday party was today and I provided snacks as well as birthday cake made by mom. It was hard not to partake in her delicious cake but I didn’t. The snacks I had included pretzels, Annie’s graham cracker bunnies, hummus and pita chips, grapes, and popcorn. I did Yoga this morning to help me distress and it felt great to be working out again. Tonight was really difficult because we went out for sushi with some friends, my most favorite thing in the whole wide world, and I ordered all the veggie dishes on their menu instead of eating fish. Some of our friends kept telling me “oh you can have just one piece can’t you?” and my favorite comment “they won’t know, you don’t have to tell them.” Hello! I am doing this! Which is pretty funny considering I have never really stuck with any one type of diet for the long-term. I always treat it like a fad and stop doing it after a couple of months and then usually completely stop at some point. I will probably mentally NEED the study to continue on after my 60 days is up. 🙂 Anyway, I had seaweed salad, cucumber salad, veggie tempura, miso soup and brown rice. I can’t wait to see what next week brings for me. I have some great ideas for recipes in the coming week.

1/29/11

I think I have finally got the hang of planning ahead. I also realize that I need to eat more small meals throughout the day to keep me satisfied. Here is a sample of my meal for the day:
5AM – 1/2 of a Vegan energy bar
8AM – green smoothie
10AM – piece of fruit
12PM – lunch (a veggie & hummus sandwich or a big salad)
3PM – roasted nori snacks
6PM – dinner (noodles or salad or soup)
Sometimes I will have some dates for dessert if I am craving something sweet.

If I stay away from the processed vegan foods and the vegan ice creams than I feel that I will be much better off. I actually feel pretty good. Hope everyone else had a good week!

1/30/11 I have been reading Mama Pea’s blog http://www.peasandthankyou.com It is a great blog because she has the same situation as me. One vegan in a family of four – my husband and kids are borderline vegetarian. I basically don’t serve meat or dairy at home and if they choose to have it while they are away from me that is another story. In my kitchen, all bets are off! Mama Pea has also started writing a vegan meal plan which may be helpful for some of us trying to shed some weight and not sure what to incorporate into our diets. I made a really good recipe this weekend which was a Sweet Potato Salad, will post the recipe below:

More a meal than a side dish, this potato salad gets its protein from avocado and pumpkin seeds, both good sources of essential fatty acids. Nutrient-rich corn and diced apple give it crunch. Try serving it over a bed of spinach or arugula.

Serves 6

  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • ¼ cup unsalted hulled pumpkin seeds or pepitas
  • 1 medium red apple, diced (1 cup)
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped (½ cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ avocado, finely diced

1. Place sweet potatoes in large saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook 3 minutes. Add corn, and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until potatoes are tender. Drain in colander and rinse under cold water to cool. Drain well.

2. Toast pumpkin seeds in dry skillet over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes, or until seeds begin to pop. Transfer to plate, and cool.

3. Combine apple, onion, cilantro, and lime juice in large bowl. Stir in sweet potatoes, corn, and oil, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in avocado and toasted pumpkin seeds just before serving.

Nutritional Information

Per 3/4-cup serving: Calories: 179, Protein: 3g, Total fat: 9g, Saturated fat: 1g, Carbs: 23g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 117mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 8g

2/01/11 So far this week has been pretty good. I received my Liz Lovely cookies last week. Of the three kinds I received, I have tasted them all. They are all good but very high in calories. I stuck them all in the freezer. I think it would be better if they made them smaller and more calorie friendly. One cookie is two servings, who can split it in half and actually only eat half? Not me! Although they are quite tasty (some of them taste like cookie dough) I don’t think I will purchase them again because I have a thing for cookies.  🙂

I didn’t feel like cooking tonight – Vegan meal for one, please! So, I ordered a vegan pizza from ZPizza. They use the Daiya cheese and they also have a gluten free crust. I got the Berkeley Pizza which has vegan cheese, soy crumbles and veggies and is very tasty! I LOVED the cheese pizza – the sauce they use is amazing! My girls loved the pizza too and asked for seconds. I definitely recommend!

I received my vegan meals from Gobble Green today! I have been anticipating these meals coming. This company delivers vegan meals to your front door in a styrofoam freezer with dry ice. I received 7 days worth of vegan meals to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and a dessert. I plan on trying them out tomorrow so I will keep you updated with how good they taste. 🙂

Lastly, I have been using the www.peasandthankyou.com blog and www.theppk.com I just bought her cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance and then realized I wanted a more low fat version of vegan cooking so I ordered Appetite for Reduction. Should be receiving it really soon. Now if I could just stay away from cookies I would be good!

2/7/11 So last week was good. I went autocrossing on Saturday during the day and planned ahead because I have been there before and know what they serve for lunch. They basically give you a choice of sandwich (ham, turkey, roast beef or vegetarian), chips, a cookie and a soda. Really nutritious, right? No! So I got the vegetarian sandwich, gave away my chips and cookie and had water to drink. Unfortunately the “vegetarian” sandwich had mayo (yuk!) and mustard on it and cheese. I took all the veggies off my sandwich and put it on the bread that I brought with me and knew was vegan. I brought my own salt and vinegar pop chips and Roasted Nori from Trader Joe’s. Instead of a cookie I had a Panda raspberry licorice stick. I made sure to drink a lot of water and took my Align which by the way works wonders. I don’t feel gassy or bloated when I take the Align. I have heard you can get it for cheaper at Costco but it is pretty expensive at Albertson’s. So a great timewas had by all who attended the autocross including me equipped with my vegan snacks and driving my 1999 BMW M3 with glee!

After spending the entire morning in the Emergency Room with my youngest daughter, my husband decided to take my oldest daughter on a drive to get us all a treat at none other than Sprinkles. Before I became Vegan I enjoyed a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting a few times a year. Now I have been wanting to try the Vegan version of the famous red velvet cupcake for a couple of months. I must say that was the absolute best vegan cupcake I have tried thus far. The cake part was moist and tasty while the frosting was sweet but not too sweet. It was perfect! I love you Sprinkles! Those of you who will be at the potluck will be partaking in some Sprinkles vegan goodness this coming Sunday! Yay!

Something else I made this weekend was a batch of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’  The Best Pumpkin Muffins. I must agree with her when she states that they are the best pumpkin muffins ever! They are moist and they come out perfectly – no more burning on the bottom or getting stuck in the pan. They have just the right amount of pumpkin and molasses and spice in them – so yummy! See below for recipe:

Makes 1 dozen muffins

Everyone loves these muffins. (You think I throw around phrases like “The Best” for nothing?) I created them when I was baking for a café and they sold like nobody’s business. They truly are perfect in every way. Variation: Fold in a cup of either chopped fresh cranberries or chopped walnuts, or a mixture of the two.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup pureed pumpkin (Fresh or from a can; do not use     pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons molasses

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a twelve-muffin tin.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, soy milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Next time I make these I am going to try to cut out some oil, maybe 1/4 c. oil and 1/4 c. applesauce. We will see – also something I will be bringing with me to Potluck. 🙂

I also wanted to add that I have now tried a couple of the lunches from Gobble Green and I have to say the Lentil Loaf and the Vegetable Quinoa were both very good. Actually it is nice to have something already frozen and ready to go, especially for lunch. Dinner is easy for me because I make it for the whole family.

2/12/11  Can’t believe I have been at this for almost a month already! I haven’t lost any weight because I haven’t been exercising really. I have decided I am going to begin my exercising regime tomorrow. I am going to start off the day with a little Yoga. I was in a bad accident on Wednesday with my kids and since then have felt a little discouraged and felt myself get a little back into my old habits of eating when I am upset or stressed. I ate a whole jar of peanut butter in one sitting! It is considered a good fat but probably not meant to be eaten in one sitting. Oh well, bygones! I wish I could say I have had the problem of weight just falling off of my body but unfortunately that isn’t the case for me. I am pretty discouraged by the fact that I haven’t really lost any weight. So I will see what happens when I increase the exercise. Anyway looking forward to seeing my “teammates” tomorrow and eating some great vegan food. I could also be consuming too many calories throughout the day. I think I need to reduce my calories a bit as well.

2/13/11 Well I didn’t make it to the vegan potluck, unfortunately. This weekend went by in a flash and my babysitter fell through so my husband and I decided to make the most of it anyway. This weekend I tried a new restaurant that I heard is really good. It is called True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach. It was a very open and clean restaurant with really good alcoholic drinks and other drinks on the menu. I was dying for some sake but they were out of the two choices I desired. Oh well! I heard their kale salad is really tasty also but I didn’t order it. The nice thing about this restaurant is that they have Vegan, gluten free, vegetarian and regular but healthy options for dinner or lunch. My husband and I shared the shitake mushroom lettuce wraps – very yummy! For dinner I had the brown rice with tofu and it was delish! My husband had ahi sliders and we decided that this was definitely a restaurant we would be returning to. After dinner we went to see “Just Go With It” and it was the perfect ending to a much-needed, relaxing evening with my favorite man in the whole world – Shane (my hubby). Planned meals for this upcoming week include: Black Bean Burgers, Butternut Squash Ravioli, Veggie & Brown Rice Stir Fry, Tofu Tortas, Curried Pumpkin Soup, and Peanut Pasta. We will see how all these meals go.

2/17/11 Well I have made it to the half way mark! I had my blood tests done on Wednesday but I haven’t received the results yet. I don’t think I have lost any weight but I do feel a lot better off dairy and meat. I used to get bloated and gassy after every meal and often I would have irritable bowel syndrome. I feel a lot better since going on the vegan diet. I went to my endocrinologist today and he wasn’t too thrilled that I haven’t lost any weight since he last saw me in early November. Also three months ago I had a small cyst on my thyroid and the good news is it has gotten even smaller, the bad news is I have more small cysts now. Hopefully with time they will go away but he will recheck my thyroid in six months to be sure. Looking back on the last 30 days, it was pretty easy for the most part. I might have gotten lazy and enjoyed a few too many processed vegan foods or prepackaged meals. I have a new awareness of eating out, I know that I pretty much can’t have most items at a regular restaurant and I have to be really cautious and sure about what I order. In thinking about the month ahead, I don’t know if I will stay completely vegan when I am done with this study but I know for a fact that I will not be adding back meat, eggs or dairy. I may add fish back into my diet occasionally but be really careful with where it comes from. We will see. For now I am going to try to follow Dr. Fuhlman’s “Eat for Life” and add more veggies and try to plan ahead more. I am anxious to hear what my results are. By the way, my Black Bean Burgers were awesome (thanks Mama Pea!) and the Butternut Squash Ravioli was really good too!

2/21/11 I received my results and I lowered my cholesterol quite a bit so I am happy about that! I made Curried Pumpkin soup on Sunday and it was really good. It also has a ton of Vitamin C in it which is probably good for all of us over here who have been very sick. I used my Vitamix three times on Sunday also – I made oatmeal flaxeed cranberry pancakes, homemade blueberry syrup and fruit & wheatgrass smoothies for the whole family. I have been eating a ton of greens too, especially for lunch. Today for lunch I had kale cooked with a little veggie broth with sesame seeds on top and a bowl of pumpkin soup. Mmmm! So good! I took the girls and my friend’s kids to see Gnomeo and Juliet today and it was a pretty funny movie. While my girls had a mixture of Annie’s bunny grahams, marshmallows and nuts, I enjoyed a bag of sweet and salty nuts homemade by my mom. On Wednesday is my birthday and my mom has agreed to make me a vegan cake from the cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance. Go mom! We are going out for Japanese food on Friday night for my birthday – I look forward to some vegetable tempura and seaweed salad. I kind of miss fish because usually on my birthday we go out for sushi.

2/27/11 This week was a pretty good week. It was my birthday so my mom made me a special Vegan cake. The cake was awesome! The frosting was good and not too sweet, the way it sometimes is. I had a birthday dinner at a sushi restaurant…don’t worry…I didn’t have any sushi although I was very tempted. Luckily I was with my best friend and my husband so there is no way they would’ve let me cheat. I enjoyed a vegetable tempura and a seaweed salad which actually filled me up.I also had a Nigori sake. Late that night I had quite a scare because I had excruciating chest pain and thought I was dying, literally. I was going through my mind trying to figure out what I ate that gave me indigestion (nothing, I had seaweed and tempura for goodness sake!) or if I was actually having a heart attack. Although I am probably a lot healthier now then I have been in a long time. After a visit to the doctor, an EKG and a chest xray, it turns out that I have walking pneumonia. Wow! I would never have even known I was that sick had I not had the chest pain – which I do not care to repeat ever by the way. I feel pretty good other than that and don’t really miss milk products or meat at all.

3/8/11 Things have been going. I have been super busy because I am getting ready to go on a business trip from next Wednesday through Sunday. I am hoping to do my final bloodwork before I leave. I had a small slip up on Sunday because we went out to the Temecula wineries with my sister and my brother in law and I had an appetizer which I thought did not include any cheese when in fact it had a small piece of brie on it. As soon as I figured this out I didn’t eat anymore of it. I am very into my smoothies right now and I love to have wheatgrass in them. I enjoy making new vegan recipes for my family and continue to plan my meals weekly so that I have a plan. I think you eat much better when you have a plan. Of course sometimes I don’t feel like eating on plan and I order a pizza or something. My favorite place to eat is Native Foods but I think they use a lot of oil and or sauces to make things taste better there. I have decided to make it a once in awhile treat and not an every week indulgence. I just keep trying to add mopre and more veggies in my everyday cooking and meal planning. I made “meat” balls and spaghetti for dinner tonight. The “meat” balls were made from chickpeas, tamari, vital wheat gluten, garlic, breadcrumbs, and herbs. They were actually very tasty. Even my girls liked it but of course they love italian night. Tomorrow night is Mexican night and we will be having mexican rice and roasted chickpea tacos. It is hard not to eat occasional processed food because you sometimes need a fake meat to add to your dinner dish. I have been trying and trying to use more vegetables, beans and legumes in everything but sometimes it is hard. I think I may try to cut out oil, nuts, and saturated fats. I have mostly cut out sugar but it is also hard to find a good substitute for sugar. Somedays I just crave a milkshake from Carl’s Jr. which is weird since I haven’t had fast food in almost 5 months. But I never indulge in one. I would love to go to the animal sanctuary and have my kids go too but there isn;t one very close to us. My daughter just loves bacon and hotdogs and she doesn;t really understand when I tell her what those things are made of and that they sometimes come from a little piggie. But then again she is only 5. My only hope is that someday she will make the decision for herself and that it will be the right one.

4/6/11  This will be my final post for the Vegan study. It has been an interesting and very informative journey. I have decided to go back to being pescatarian. I am just going to be much more careful with where my fish comes from, for example wild caught vs. farmed. I will continue to leave dairy, eggs, and other meats out of my diet. If you were planning on transitioning to a plant based diet, the five tips I would give you are; (1) take it slowly, don’t give up everything at once, give up the easiest thing, for example eggs and give up one thing a week, (2) try to incorporate veggies into most meals, (3) drink a ton of water, it will help flush the impurities out, (4) don’t eat vegan processed foods to make up for the regular foods you are giving up, and (5) get a support system, there are a lot of people’s blogs about their journeys that will help. The most difficult aspect of switching from a pescatarian diet to a completely vegan diet was that I really missed fish. I love to eat really good sashimi and to tell you the truth I missed it. So now I eat a very balanced diet of tofu, tempeh and salmon. I felt really good on the completely vegan diet but I feel better eating some fish. It’s a personal choice. I really enjoyed embarking on this journey with all of the other people and Dr. Taylor. I have learned a lot that I will take with me as I continue on my own journey.

56 Responses to “Nikki”

  1. Jax and John said

    Hi Nikki- where did you get the recipe for the Ultimate Vegan Lasagna from? John and i will have to try the resturant at the Irvine Spectrum. Hope you had a great weekend!

    • nikkiportnoff said

      I bought this book called Everything Vegan. It has great Vegan recipes in it. I like to plan my meals for the week and this has helped a lot! The ISBN# is 978-0-470-54788-5
      I did have a great and busy weekend! Hope you guys did as well.

  2. Christie said

    That book happened to be at my local library, so Jax and John you might want to try that?

    • johnjax12 said

      Thanks Christie and Nikki for the info. We will hit the library this weekend!! Happy Days to you both!!

  3. Jenn said

    Great stuff, Nikki! YOur body is going through a “cleansing” so to speak. It will take a little time and then a lot will come off at once. That is what happened to me anyway. I wasn’t expecting it either so it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks week #2. =) Thanks for posting the recipes too. I’m going to actually try this one!

  4. Christie said

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE udon, but I’m eating them sparingly right now cause I’m still trying to lose, but your recipes look great!! Maybe I’ll have some for lunch…

  5. Vanessa said

    Those recipes look so good! I think I’m gonna try the udon one this weekend. Glad you liked the hummus sandwich! It’s a pretty easy one to throw together. I don’t always have the time or energy to cook, so I’m a big fan of the simple but still delicious foods.

  6. Anastasia "The Veganbetic" Brown said

    Hi, Nikki! Your story sounds very similar to mine, what with trying all kinds of diets, etc. And I was brought up in the same way as you, with no junk foods around. I didn’t eat any junky stuff until I was out of the house when I was older—and that is when I got crazy with food and sweets and fried things—you name it.

    I want to say that I like your adventurous spirit and I wish you the very best while on this program. Going vegan has done wonders for my health, and it will help you too; I know it! 😀

    PS: if you can get your hands on Daiya (it’s a vegan cheese substitute), do try it. It’s one of the better cheese subs out there, and it comes in mozzarella and cheddar varieties. Whole Foods carries it.

    • nikkiportnoff said

      Thanks Anastasia! I haven’t been able to find Daiya cheese yet but I can’t wait to try it when I do. The only cheese I have found is the Vegan Cheese which is actually pretty good. It is nice to hear that their are other people out there with similiar situations as me. 🙂 I just have to try to stay away from the vegan icecream! 😉

      • Anastasia "The Veganbetic" Brown said

        You’re so welcome! And re: the vegan ice cream—oh, man, I know exactly what you mean; I love it even more than I did regular ice cream and I have to be really careful not to go overboard with it!

        Jenna kindly posted my own story in the Testimonials section about how I finally went vegan, so please feel free to read it whenever. 😀

  7. Christie said

    Nikki –
    I am SO jealous of your Vitamix! I recently decided that when I hit my 20 pound loss mark (which will be approaching my 41st b-day) that my present to myself will be a Vitamix. My husband will totally dissaprove of a blender that costs that much, but I have my own slush fund so he can’t stop me! It’s great that your husband is in this with you!

    • nikkiportnoff said

      Christie,

      I am so in love with this Vitamix machine – if that is even possible! It whips smoothies up in a 60 seconds flat! It is awesome! I see myself using this for a long, long time. If you get one you won’t regret it! 🙂 Maybe once your husband realizes how many other things it does like make soups, bread, chops veggies and makies smoothies, he will change his mind.

      • Anastasia "The Veganbetic" Brown said

        Nikki, I remember that over 20 years ago, Vitamix claimed that you could use the machine to grind grain for flour—is that also true for the newer model that you have?

  8. nikkiportnoff said

    Anastasia,

    Hi! Yes you can grind grain to make flour even grind rice and almonds to make milk BUT you have to get the dry blade. Which I plan on getting really soon!

    • Anastasia "The Veganbetic" Brown said

      Cool! Thanks for filling me in, Nikki. I have always wanted a Vita-Mix, and I can’t wait to get one so I can make my own flour for my own bread!

  9. Christie said

    Congratulations on your one week anniversary Nikki! Sounds like you’re going strong!

  10. Christie said

    Wow!! Good job avoiding the bad stuff, Nikki! It’s a nice feeling to know you were good; once the temptation is gone! While it’s there it’s REALLY hard. Good for you – I’m impressed! I found myself eating regular cheese on my beans tonight even though I have vegan cheese on hand – I just forgot and didn’t realize until it was too late! I think I need Jenn’s binder to help me avoid the animal protein!

  11. […] Nikki […]

  12. Jenn said

    Great Job, Nikki! You are doing fabulous. I found those types of events were hard too! Trust me it gets a lot easier! =) I’m so excited to find out about those meals you ordered!

  13. Katherine said

    Nikki,

    Sounds like you are doing awesome! I too love my vitamin for green smoothies. Did you know you can put frozen ripe bananas in and make “ice cream”. I like two bananas, two T unsweetened cocoa powder, and two T peanut butter. You can make up your own flavors – and this keeps me away from the processed sugars in vegan ice cream. Good luck!

    • Nikki said

      Katherine,

      I will definitely have to try that. I have decided that I can basically not have any of the Purely Decadent icecream in the house anymore – I love it too much. 😦 Thanks again for the tip!

      • Vanessa said

        Yes! I made that the other night! It’s amazing! Just make sure you peel the banana first before putting it in the freezer or else it’s a pain to peel. Then just blend it! The consistency is really creamy, just like ice cream.

      • nikkiportnoff said

        OK So I attempted to make this the other night and it was too thick and barely blended together. Have you had this problem? Do you add any liquid at all to it?

      • Katherine said

        I don’t add any liquid. If the bananas are really frozen solid, depending on how cold your freezer is, you can drefrost slightly in the micro, around 30 seconds. Hope it works for you, it’s my favorite treat since I’m trying to give up all sugars except fruit for a while.

      • nikkiportnoff said

        OK I will try that. I added some soy milk the first time because the bananas were very frozen and it still tasted good. Since you are avoiding all sugard except fruit, has it helped any in the weight department? I have no idea if that is your intention at all, just curious. Thanks!

      • Katherine said

        I am 43 years old, married with two teenag boys. Two years ago, I flew back to Iowa to move my 95 year old grandma into a nursing home. While visiting her 101 year old sister, I decided two things: I have some longevity genes, and if I’m going to live a long time I really want to be healthy. So I began to add things to my diet (fruits and veggies!) and remove even more (diet soda, red meat, all meat, dairy etc). A year ago I became vegan, and two weeks later made the house vegan (food wise). My 17 and 15 year olds have been great, only eating non vegan when we eat out a few times a week. I lost 15 pounds before I went vegan on March 1st of last year, and maintained in the low 130s, which works for me (I’m 5’6″). Weight loss does not seem to be steady as when one is dieting, but almost as though you hit a point where your body is satisfied and not stressed by digesting junk, and the weight loss is sudden. Sugar is my last major hurdle, it seems to spike my eating, disrupt my sleep, and cause lethargy that I don’t want. Even the subs like brown rice syrup (I eliminated white sugar almost a year ago). Sorry for the long response, I just want to encourage you that it is so worth it to come out of the fog and stress of eating things that hurt your body to a peaceful place where you can love food, eat with no guilt and love life. Keep going and don’t stress about any slip ups, no one has to be perfect!

    • Christie said

      Good story Katharine! I hope to turn my household vegan as well (but don’t tell my meat loving husband!) I got the refined sugar out too, but I do still use honey and brown rice syrup in moderation. My honey is raw and I visit the beekeeper personally, so I feel ok using it. I hope you’re right about the weight falling off. It’s never taken me this long before to lose – not even when I tried raw for a month last summer! Course I’ve never been vegan before and I really like this new lifestyle – I believe I’m changed for good!

      • Katherine said

        That’s great news. Many people don’t seem to be sucked in by honey and brown rice syrup, but it lures me into more and more sweets. So I’m going to kick it to the curb! I hope ;). Take care of yourself, you’re body’s doing some major work to kick out the toxins. I loved Epsom salt baths. Most importantly don’t stress!

  14. Nikki said

    Well, peeps, I seem to be having trouble posting to my blog, so I will post a comment for now. I think I have finally got the hang of planning ahead. I also realize that I need to eat more small meals throughout the day to keep me satisfied. Here is a sample of my meal for the day:
    5AM – 1/2 of a Vegan energy bar
    8AM – green smoothie
    10AM – piece of fruit
    12PM – lunch (a veggie & hummus sandwich or a big salad)
    3PM – roasted nori snacks
    6PM – dinner (noodles or salad or soup)
    Sometimes I will have some dates for dessert if I am craving something sweet.

    If I stay away from the processed vegan foods and the vegan icecreams than I feel that I will be much better off. I actually feel pretty good. Hope everyone else had a good week!
    Nikki

  15. Jenn said

    You’re doing great, Nikki! Keep up the good work! Jenn

  16. Christie said

    You are right about the cookies! I noticed that a lot of vegan blogs and books are trying to be healthy, but have no qualms about making cookies with tons of refined white sugar! I don’t get that. Mama Pea included, though I love her dearly.

  17. Jenn said

    Did you get your Gobble Green delivery yet? I’m dying to know if it’s good or not! =)

    • nikkiportnoff said

      Yes I got it on Tuesday. They come in these little vacuum dealed packs with details on how to prepare them. I have tried the breakfast bar and the pancakes for breakfast and I have to say the bar was very dense and I am not sure I liked it all that much. The pancakes were good though. I had tofu curry for dinner which was like a soup and a little watery but pretty good tasting. I haven’t tried the lunches or desserts yet. All in all, I am not that impressed with what I have tried so far. Hopefully that will change as I try new things. I would say if you are pressed for time, these meals would be good because there isn’t much preparation but I personally would prefer a home cooked meal.

  18. Christie said

    Hi Nikki (or Jenn) –
    Did Jenn give you guys any info about Vit B12? I am learning that if I stay on a vegan diet, I should take a supplement. I read that we need 10 mcg per day or 2000 per week and that any more can accually be counter productive. However, when I try to buy them on line, they only sell these huge pill dosages??

    • Anastasia "The Veganbetic" Brown said

      Hi, Christie…just wanted to help a little by letting you know what I take. It’s a supplement called VegLife Vegan iron; it also has B12 in it (only 15 mcgs) and the ingredients are as follows: Serving Size: 1 Tablet; 100 servings per container.
      Ingredients: Amount per serving: % Daily Value: +
      Folate (as folic acid) 30 mcg 8%
      Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) (coated) 20 mg 33%
      Vitamin B-12 (as cyanocobalamin) 15 mcg 250%
      Iron (as ferrous fumarate) 25 mg 139%
      Other Ingredients: Vegetable Cellulose, Stearic Acid, VegiBlend™ (Carrot, Broccoli and Tomato Concentrates), Silica and Magnesium Stearate.

      • Christie said

        Thanks Anastasia – I’ll look that up!!

    • Jenn said

      Christie-

      I am of the same school of thought that Alicia (TKD) is: sublingual B-12 is the way to go (or the dots) unless you want to get an injection or get an inhaled version Rx from your physician. Here are a few of the one’s I like:
      http://astore.amazon.com/thplrx-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=29

    • nikkiportnoff said

      I have been taking Hawaiian Spirulina and it has 150% of B12 in it. I add it to our smoothies in the morning. It is nice because I don’t have to take an extra pill.

  19. Anastasia "The Veganbetic" Brown said

    Oh, good! I always wondered about sublinguals and why they are better. Does it have to do with absorption? I would like to try one of these when I run out of the VegLife. Thank you for posting about it, Jenna!

    • Jenn said

      You are correct. Absorption and also in the past they didn’t make capsules or pills that were made without animal protein. 🙂

      • Anastasia "The Veganbetic" Brown said

        Thanks endlessly, Jenn! I’m gonna go find me a good sublingual from your link! 😀

  20. Christie said

    Thanks so much Jenn! That’s what I’ll get then!

  21. Christie said

    Hi Nikki –
    If it makes you feel any better, I have been working out (and I work pretty hard!) 6 days a week for almost 2 months now and had not lost ONE pound (NOT ONE)! Very frustrating! But I went off a medication I was on and have been vegan for 2 and 1/2 weeks now and yesterday the scale said I was down 4-5 pounds!! FINALLY!!!! Not sure if it was the meds, or if the new diet just takes a while to kick in, but at least it’s moving in the right direction now! I think exercise benefits you in a lot of ways, and also hopefully gets the scale moving 😉 15 pounds more and I order my new Vitamix!!!

    • nikkiportnoff said

      That’s awesome Christie! For me it always seems that just when I get back on track exercise wise, I either get sick or hurt myself. I feel a chest cold coming on so I don’t think I will make it to the gym this week after all. 😦 I think it is great to have a goal in mind though – like a new Vitamix! I am seeing my endocrinologist on Thursday and I don’t think he will be too please with the fact that I haven’t lost any weight. 😦 Oh well.

      • Christie said

        Are you sleeping enough? That can cause problems losing too, and could also account for illness and inury? Just a thought!

      • nikkiportnoff said

        I think I need to see a vegan dietician, is there such a thing? I am definitely not sleeping enough! I stay up late, midnight most nights, and wake up pretty early. I am probably getting 6-7 hours of sleep a night.

  22. Christie said

    Have you seen this? I think Jenna maybe supports her? Anyway, I was thinking of getting some help too, but now the weight is finally starting to come off, so I think I’m doing ok. What I need is a vegan cooking class!!
    Here’s the link: http://www.eaturveggies.com/services/

    • Jenn said

      Elisha is a good idea. =)

    • nikkiportnoff said

      Thanks Christie! I looked at her site and it was very interesting but I think I am going to read “Eat to Live” and try to follow that before I pay for someone’s advise. Jenn is also going to give me some tips after she looks at my eating habits for the last few days.

  23. johnjax12 said

    Hey You guys i think you are doing great!!! The only thing I could say is go straight veggie and no processed foods. I am having a tough go with it as well.. My husnabd is dorping weight just by saying it and I am so proud of him… just wish I could do as well. We can do thins!!!!

    • nikkiportnoff said

      You guys are doing great as well. It must be difficult going from a standard american diet to completely vegan. I think this is why you have had such a large weight loss. You drastically changed the way you guys were eating. I was already vegetarian when I started this study and only changed to completely vegan so not as much of a drastic change because I had already cut out dairy and all meat except occasional fish. My cholesterol decreased so I am happy about that at least. My next goal, to increase my vegggie intake even more and hopefully start dropping some weight. 🙂

      • megsabraham said

        So glad your cholesterol dropped! Hope mine did that as well- i will find out on Monday. It was difficult changing but now it is a bit easier. I think cutting out most of the fat is why we dropped so much weight. I was the bigger veggie eater than John so that part was easy for me. It truly sucks that men lose more weight than women without barely trying. Oh well we keep on pushing!!!

      • Christie said

        And so many things I’ve read about veganism (being new to it myself) act like the weight will just fall off. It should really: exercise + veggies – animal protein – sugar = skinny me (doesn’t it!!??) ARG!

  24. […] Nikki […]

  25. […] Nikki […]

  26. […] conducting a very important 60-day plant-based diet study, in which participants (Stephanie, Nikki, Vanessa, Megan, John and Jax and Amber) will be changing their diets from either a Standard […]

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