What I Ate Wednesday: Fast Days and Feast Days

We made it halfway through the week, and it’s time for another What I Ate Wednesday! Sometimes when I look over the pictures from the past week, I can really tell when I was in a hurry to throw something together. The past few days I ate a lot of things that it didn’t even seem worthwhile to take a picture of. I also ate something so weird, I had to take a picture ๐Ÿ™‚ And then there was my special meal for a Feast Day celebration.

What I Ate Wednesday: ALT (Avocado Lettuce Tomato) Sandwich | Orthodox and Vegan
I did get off to a good start with pea soup and an ALT (Avocado, Lettuce and Tomato) Sandwich – if you’re eating oil, you could also add your favorite vegan mayo. I made the pea soup using Bob’s Red Mill green pea flour, and added tahini to make it creamy.

What I Ate Wednesday: Double Qrunch Burger Sandwich | Orthodox and Vegan
Another sandwich, but this time I simply prepared two Qrunch Burgers (you cook them in the toaster). They are covered in ketchup, with a little squirt of Just Mayo.

What I Ate Wednesday: Pickle Wrap | Orthodox and Vegan
And this is where I got desperate. I was in a rush to eat something Saturday afternoon, and didn’t have time to slice veggies. Instead I wrapped a pickle in a tortilla! To the left of the pickle is a big squirt of Just Mayo covered in hulled hemp hearts, topped with ketchup and crushed up tortilla chips. It was actually pretty good!

What I Ate Wednesday: Stella's Lounge in Grand Rapids | Orthodox and Vegan
But do you know what’s even better than a pickle in a tortilla? Brunch at Stella’s Lounge! Our parish transferred the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos to Sunday, so after Liturgy my friend and I headed to Stella’s for a special meal. What you see here is Ride the Lightning Salad, Chronic Fries, Onion Rings, French Toast Sandwich filled with Tofu Veggie Scramble with Old Grand Dad Maple Syrup, and a side of Poor Man’s Potato Wing Hash. Oh, and a celebratory Espresso Old Fashioned ๐Ÿ™‚

What I Ate Wednesday: Curry Leaf Indian Cuisine | Orthodox and Vegan
Today I finally tried the Indian restaurant that opened near my house quite a few months ago, Curry Leaf. A lot of Indian food contains cream or ghee, but not all of it. I went for the lunch buffet, and the host showed us which items were vegan. Indian food is great because:
A. It tastes good
B. Lots of legumes = protein and
C. It tastes really, really wonderful.
And nearly everything shown here is gluten free, except probably the pancake thing.

What I Ate Wednesday: Coco Jazz Thai Coconut Snack | Orthodox and Vegan
Lastly, I stopped at my favorite Asian market to pickup some jackfruit and decided to take a look at the clearance racks – I love getting a good deal! I found this chili flavored toasted coconut snack from Thailand, Coco Jazz, for only 50 cents. These little bags (one to two servings each) would be great to keep around the house or office for when you need a little extra something.

What’s the weirdest thing you ever ate in a pinch? Let us know in the comments!

What I Ate Wednesday: Basically, Beans.

Whoa, it’s Wednesday again already, and the second day of the Nativity Fast! If you’re in need of more fasting food ideas, check out my What Do Vegans Eat page. Today we’re talkin’ about beans. Two simple ways to use them. Plus….everyone’s favorite, PIZZA.

What I Ate Wednesday: Walnut & Bean Tacos | Orthodox and Vegan
Let us begin with tacos. Beans in tacos probably doesn’t sound very impressive, but consider a small amount of beans (about 1/4 C) was blended with 1 C of soaked & drained walnuts, seasoned with cumin, chili powder, a clove of garlic, salt, and pepper to make a nice taco “meat”. You can do this without the beans, but the beans hold everything together and make it easier to eat without making a mess.
The tacos are also stuffed with a yummy salad of romaine, green onions, avocado, and lime juice with a touch of salt.

What I Ate Wednesday: Domino's Pizza | Orthodox and Vegan
I’m not sure if I ever had Domino’s Pizza before going vegan, but definitely not since (and it’s been a while). They’re a little skimpy with toppings – most chains are – but it was pretty good for what it is. Only the thin crust is vegan, and I had to eat an entire 10″ pizza to feel satisfied. You’ll want to order the regular sauce, and you might also want to add a Dipping Cup or two – the garlic sauce, BBQ sauce, and hot buffalo sauce flavors are vegan.

What I Ate Wednesday: Chili Pasta | Orthodox and Vegan
We had a can of Bush’s Chili Starter in the cupboard. On an oil day, I sauteed onions and green peppers, then added a can of drained diced tomatoes and some soy crumbles, seasoned everything with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and chili powder, and then added the chili starter. After simmering a few minutes, I added angel hair pasta to the pan, poured in the reserved liquid from the tomatoes and a bit of extra water, covered the pan and let the pasta soak up all the flavors.

On an oil free day, I just boiled the angel hair pasta as usual. After draining, I mixed the pasta with Newman’s Own Black Bean & Corn Salsa – it’s my favorite salsa!

What’s your favorite way to prepare beans on oil free days? Comment below!

What I Ate Wednesday: Homemade Veggie Burgers

Time for another edition of What I Ate Wednesday! Sorry it’s late, I was distracted last night watching a little map of the US turning blue and red.

Just want to point out the Nativity Fast begins next Tuesday, November 15. The Nativity Fast page is up now, and I’ll be sharing more actual recipes along with WIAW posts, including a new veggie burger recipe!

What I Ate Wednesday: Vegan Quesadillas | Orthodox and Vegan
I know I already posted tahini quesadillas recently, but…these are with my Tahini Nacho Cheez sauce instead of just plain tahini ๐Ÿ™‚ And a nice big side of guac.

What I Ate Wednesday: One Pot Pasta | Orthodox and Vegan
If you hate doing dishes, a one pot meal is the way to go. Did you know you can actually cook pasta right in the sauce? Heat the sauce, add pasta, add enough water to cover and then bring it to a low boil. When it’s done, it’s DONE. You could even eat it right out of the pan if no one is looking.

What I Ate Wednesday: Dagwood Sandwich | Orthodox and Vegan
This giant sandwich contains two veggie burger patties made with a combination of soy crumbles and vital wheat gluten (seitan). My dad thought the crumbles would work like ground beef to make hamburger patties, but sadly they do not. I processed them with the VWG, sauteed onions, kidney beans, and seasonings and it worked perfectly. Well, almost perfectly – they were a little soft, but they’ve inspired me to do a seitan burger recipe!

What I Ate Wednesday: Big Salad | Orthodox and Vegan
Sometimes I even eat salad. Just throw in whatever vegetables you have, make it big, and add some nuts or seeds for protein so you won’t be hungry 5 minutes later. Fat is good, too, as long as you don’t go crazy. Lemon juice and olive oil with a little salt is my favorite way to dress a salad on oil days, and tahini sauce on oil-free days.

What I Ate Wednesday: Garlic Butter Crescent Rolls | Orthodox and Vegan
I was very bad last night while I stared at the map. I bought canned crescent rolls, filled them with hemp seeds, and brushed them with garlic dipping sauce from Papa John’s. It’s extra wonderful if you put a few drops of the garlic sauce in the filling, too. Then I made popcorn…with the garlic sauce. And I ate 1/4 of my St. Demetrios Cake.

If you have any requests for the Nativity Fast, post them below!!

What I Ate Wednesday: Breakfast and Leftovers and More

Well, I’m back from Oregon and definitely have jet lag. Totally worth it, though. Luckily I took pictures of practically every single thing I ate during the trip, and this week’s What I Ate Wednesday is still *almost* nothing but things I ate during my trip. Check it out.

What I Ate Wednesday: Big Awesome Breakfast | Orthodox and Vegan
One morning I finally got up early enough to make a wonderful breakfast! I made a VeganEgg omelet filled with Daiya cheddar shreds, pan-fried potatoes with onions and mushrooms smothered in golden gravy, Gimme Lean “sausage” patties, and my now almost-famous Mac n Cheese Stuffed Crescent Rolls with thinly sliced Tofurky sausage (I accidentally bought the reduced fat kind, and it turns out that means they have the exact same ingredients but are smaller, so they could barely contain the cheezy mac!).

What I Ate Wednesday: Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies | Orthodox and Vegan
I whipped up a batch of Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies, which are fairly healthy as far as desserts go.

What I Ate Wednesday: Potato Hash and Avocado Rose | Orthodox and Vegan
Here I repurposed the potatoes and mushrooms from our Big Breakfast by covering them with leftover sauce from our pizza. I added chunks of Miyoko’s VeganMozz and served it with a lovely avocado rose.

What I Ate Wednesday: Freetos and Cheezy Sauce | Orthodox and Vegan
For taco night, I melted down Daiya cheddar shreds with a little almond milk. I LOVE Freetos in my tacos and burritos, and it turns out I also love eating leftover Freetos with leftover cheese sauce. YUM YUM YUM.

What I Ate Wednesday: Sunday Dinner | Orthodox and Vegan
I left Portland Saturday afternoon and arrived in Michigan late that night. Sunday I was already back to my usual routine of teaching Sunday School, going to Liturgy, and then heading over to Tete’s for our family dinner. My dad bought me Tofurky kielbasa in honor of Pulaski Days, although the rest of the meal didn’t really go with the theme: Lemon & garlic asparagus, garlic bread, pan-fried potatoes, and salad. And our customary shot of Southern Comfort, which is also vegan ๐Ÿ™‚

What I Ate Wednesday: Mostly Junk Food

Hey guys! I’ve been meaning to start What I Ate Wednesday posts for a while now, so today I decided to just go through my phone and grab a few pictures for you. This is just another way to show you the many vegan options available. Today I’m accidentally focusing on the fact vegans don’t necessarily eat healthy food all the time. I just randomly chose these pictures, I promise I don’t eat cake and caramel sauce every day! Although I would love to ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway, here’s What I Ate!

What Vegans Eat: Salad Art with Edible Flowers | Orthodox and Vegan
So, we’re starting off pretty nicely. My mom made this gorgeous salad for a dinner party last month. As I have mentioned before, Tiger Lilies (Day Lilies) are edible. We also have salad greens, fresh veggies, and sunflower seeds for protein and a touch of healthy fat.

What I Ate Wednesday: Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Ice Cream | Orthodox and Vegan
For a Young Adults outing, a few of us met up for Movies in the Park. There were several food trucks out, some with vegan options such as fries and tacos, but I opted for this chocolate-dipped peanut butter bar from Love’s Ice Cream (non-dairy, of course).

What I Ate Wednesday: Coco Jam Caramel Sauce | Orthodox and Vegan
I found this Coco Jam at the nearby Asian market. It’s not jam, though – it’s a caramel sauce! Perfect for topping your vegan ice cream, drizzling over vegan brownies, or eating straight from the jar with a spoon….

What I Ate Wednesday: Hotdogs & Potato Salad | Orthodox and Vegan
For a recent birthday celebration my family decided to have a picnic lunch at the park. Pretty much everyone else had traditional hotdogs with American potato salad, but I was lucky enough to have vegan hotdogs and Syrian potato salad (Syrian potato salad is waaaaaaaay better).

What I Ate Wednesday: Chocolate Caramel Birthday Cake & Ice Cream | Orthodox and Vegan
Afterwards we had vegan cake! I ordered a chocolate cake with caramel filling and caramel drizzle from Rise Grand Rapids. All their stuff is vegan and gluten free and absolutely delicious.

So, I can’t recommend eating these kinds of things every day, but I can say you should never have to feel deprived on a vegan diet. Vegans can have cake, ice cream, chocolate, and pretty much anything else that can give you diabetes (aren’t we lucky).

That said, there are plenty of healthy sweets out there, too. For example, this 6-Ingredient Chocolate Caramel Slice recipe by Blissful Basil featuring almond butter, coconut oil, and pure maple syrup.

So much for the old grass-clippings jokes! What are your favorite vegan indulgences, healthy or otherwise? Let us know down below in the comments!

Five Days Vegan – Could You Survive?

Five Days Vegan - Vegan Donuts
A few days ago someone shared this very sad Business Insider article by health reporter Lisa Ryan. Lisa tried “dietary veganism” for five days and “it was the worst” because of all the things she couldn’t eat. I had to take a nice long shower and think about her article before responding because my first reaction was a cynical one – how can someone living in the super vegan-friendly city of New York barely handle five days vegan? How come a health reporter didn’t spend a little more time working on meal plans and finding recipes to try at home rather than going out to eat for seemingly every meal, snack, and beverage? What is a “health reporter” anyway?? Seems like nothing but click-bait to me (I was shocked at how many things I couldn’t eat – really?), but I have noticed something over the years. The idea of eating animal-based foods is so ingrained in people, the thought of veganism causes their eyes to glaze over as they ask, “Vegan? What can you even eat?”

Maybe even a health reporter can fall into this trap, so I want to help Lisa. Maybe she’ll try veganism for another five days, who knows? Maybe you might even try it yourself!

So, let’s walk through the article with Ms. Ryan and I’ll give her a few tips.

Vegan for Five Days - Califia Farms Vegan Coffee Creamer
1. “That’s how I learned that the coffee I consume all the time actually tastes really bad.”
Okay, this is a good thing. Why are you drinking crappy coffee? Buy something good to brew at home and use the money you save to buy So Delicious coffee creamer in French Vanilla or Hazelnut, or Califia Farm’s delicious Pecan Caramel.
I don’t drink much coffee and when I do I like it black, but if you want to splurge sometime Starbucks has a ton of great vegan options. If you want to get really fancy, VegNews Magazine just did a list of Vegan Frappuccinos at Starbucks.

2. “I needed protein after my morning workout, but I couldn’t eat anything with eggs or meat โ€” which is how I normally get my boost. So instead, I got a vegan smoothie with extra protein to try to compensate.”
A smoothie, that’s great! From the looks of it, you drank a Mudslide from Liquiteria. This means your post-workout breakfast had only 375 calories, and 15g of protein. Why not add 1/4 C dry roasted cashews for about 5g more protein for a measly extra 200 calories – no big deal after a good workout. Cashews are rich and fatty, and help you feel full.

3. “I stopped by a nearby street-food fair for lunch, but found that I couldn’t eat most of the things that were available. After hunting around for a while, I finally found vegan vegetable rolls, filled with chickpeas, cabbage, quinoa, and the works. They were delicious.”
Good choice.

Vegan for Five Days - Fatally Yours Chocolate Hearts by Vegan Treats

These gourmet chocolates are 100% vegan

4. “After work, I was craving some chocolate โ€” badly. But of course, I couldn’t have any, since it’s completely packed with dairy.”
WUT??? Nope. I love chocolate and eat it regularly. Here’s a list of vegan-friendly chocolates from VegNews, including options from well-known brands like Theo, Trader Joe’s, Lindt, Endangered Species, Newman’s Own, and Chocolove. There are even non-dairy milk chocolate options. Vegans love chocolate.

5. “Luckily, I live near a vegan bakery in Brooklyn, so I picked up a vegan chocolate cupcake there. It tasted just as great as a normal cupcake.”
Of course it did because what makes cupcakes good is sugar and fat, and vegans can use both. Looks like your cupcake was purchased at Clementine Bakery, so I assume you also saw their huge selection of cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, muffins, cinnamon rolls, various sandwiches, and perhaps a mention of the Biscuits & Gravy dinner available on Sundays? They also have fancy coffees with three different kinds of non-dairy milk available! And since you’re in Brooklyn, you may also want to checkout Dun-Well Doughnuts. I follow them on facebook just for the pictures!

6. “To my surprise, the clerk at my local wine store told me that it had only one vegan wine option in stock. I was shocked to learn that a lot of wines are made with some sort of animal product.”
Yes it’s true that isinglass (fish bladder) and albumin (egg whites) are commonly used to filter wine. You can use Barnivore.com to check if a certain wine is vegan (there’s also an app). In Brooklyn, you’ll find 44 vegan wines available at The Natural Wine Company. Or just switch to hard liquor ๐Ÿ™‚

7. “Being vegan means that you have to spend a lot of time seeking out restaurants that actually serve vegan food โ€” and then investigating the menu to figure out what’s actually vegan or not. Dig Inn, my favorite lunch place by the INSIDER office, luckily had vegan offerings.”
Yes, I usually spend about five minutes researching online before going to a new restaurant. Sometimes I even call ahead which might take five minutes more. Luckily these days many restaurants mark vegan items on the menu, or provide a totally separate vegan menu. A good waitstaff should be able to find a suitable option for you just about anywhere, and if you’re going to a chain restaurant you can usually just google “vegan at _____” and get a list of options.

8. “As it turns out, a lot of beverages you wouldn’t expect aren’t vegan โ€” including a ton of beers and sodas, which often contain fish gelatin or other animal products.”
Nearly all hard liquor is vegan, and most American beers are vegan. And guess what – Stella Atrois recently went vegan! Yay!

9. “By Wednesday, being vegan was getting annoying. I didn’t mind staying away from meat, but I was starting to really miss dairy products, and my vegan diet was leaving me feeling incredibly hungry. A coworker brought in some banana pudding โ€” but it wasn’t vegan, so I couldn’t have any of it.”
Here, sweetie. Try this recipe for Vegan Banana Pudding from Vegetarian Times and share it with your friends. You’re probably partly feeling annoyed because you’re irritable in general thanks to those low-calorie post workout breakfast smoothies, and partly because you miss social eating. I get it. You need to put forth a little effort and do the cooking and baking yourself once in a while.

Vegan for Five Days - Carrot Cake Larabar

Image from Larabar.com

10. “I tried to compensate by instead enjoying some of the snack foods that we have in the office. I couldn’t eat any of the Goldfish (which has cheddar) or cheese sticks (for obvious reasons), but luckily Google told me that raisins were vegan โ€” so I feasted on those.”
Now if you only had some of those roasted cashews I mentioned earlier. You could also stash some vegan snack bars in your desk, like Larabars – the Carrot Cake flavor is wonderful and made simply of carrots, fruits, and nuts.

11. “I burned a ton of calories doing an intense midday workout, but once again, I couldn’t turn to meat to load up on protein afterward. Thankfully, Chipotle has a lot of vegan options, and I was able to grab a burrito with black beans and guacamole, which provided me with at least some of the protein I needed.”
I’m not sure how much protein you require – probably about 55 to 60 grams if you weigh 130 pounds – but according to Chipotle’s Nutrition Calculator you can get 22g from a Sofrito Bowl with black beans, brown rice, roasted chili-corn salsa, and guac for only 555 calories. If you have more calories to spare, you can have an actual burrito in a flour tortilla and bump it up to 29g of protein and 855 calories.

Now let’s think about this. If you have the smoothie and nuts for breakfast and the burrito for lunch, that’s 49g of protein before dinner, and 1,430 calories minus whatever you burned in that intense workout. That had to be at least 400 calories burned, and since you’re an active young woman that means you can probably enjoy at least another 600 to 800 calories! Your only worry is all the extra sodium in the convenience foods you’re eating.
If you made your own burrito at home you’d have complete control of the amount of salt added, plus you could add 3 Tbsp of hemp hearts for an extra 10g of protein and 170 calories. Now you’re at 59g of protein before dinner. Hemp hearts are also high in iron. Are you making sure you’re getting enough iron?

12. “That night, I scoured my local deli for vegan food. I found a lot of things that were gluten- or dairy-free, but vegan options were severely lacking. I ended up grabbing some vegan Indian dumplings that I’d had before. But I was so burned out from vegan food that I didn’t even enjoy them.”
I really think we can even blame this on fatigue from poor diet planning. No offense, but you sound grumpy. You sound HANGRY.

There is such thing as a vegan version of a Snickers, btw. They’re called Jokerz, and you should try one.

And if you still refuse to cook for yourself, you could try a new deli like Brooklyn Standard. They have tons of vegans options, and…they’ll put soy milk in your coffee.

13. “…we went to my all-time favorite pierogi place in the East Village. But I soon realized that pierogi dough contains eggs, so I was stuck eating steamed vegetables.”
It does help to plan ahead. If you’re grabbing a drink with friends, just do a quick google search of vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants in the area and take a quick look at the menus. Not only is it an easy way to find vegan options in case you decide to grab a bite to eat, it’s also a wonderful way to discover awesome restaurants you’ve never been to before which will also be fun for your non-vegan friends. And let’s say all you discover is the only vegan option in the area is steamed vegetables – throw a snack bar in your bag. Enjoy the company of your friends and enjoy those steamed vegetables, and then enjoy that snack bar when nobody’s looking.

14. “But my final day of being vegan was a lot easier, presumably because I knew the end was in sight.”
Or because you had spent a mere four days researching a new diet and finally knew it pretty well. Four days is a small investment before changing your life in a way that could possibly affect your health.

15. “Spending five days hunting for foods with no meat, dairy, or eggs was tough. By midday Friday, I was sick of constantly having to Google foods and ask waiters or store clerks about vegan options. I didn’t mind eating tofu or vegetables so often, but I hated how restrictive it felt to be vegan.”
There’s one place people often overlook when trying to find vegan food: The produce section. Also the canned vegetable aisle, which tends to be near canned and dried legumes. There are thousands and thousands of combinations possible here – it’s anything but restrictive. Your own mind is all that’s holding you back – sounds really dorky, but it’s true!

16. “Of course, I saw certain health benefits to the diet โ€” including improved digestion. The body breaks down vegan foods really quickly, so they go right through you, if you catch my drift.”
Unless you have health issues, most likely your body would’ve adjusted if you’d stuck it out longer. I’m happy to say my BMs are totally normal.

Five Days Vegan - Gestation Crates

Image of gestation crates by Humane Society of the United States. Factory farmed sows spend the four-month period of their pregnancy in these tiny crates.

17. “But all in all, the diet was such a hassle that I won’t be going vegan again anytime soon.”
To be honest, you never went vegan to begin with. You simply tried a poorly-planned plant-based diet so you could write about it. Diets are often temporary, but choosing a certain way of life – “A philosophy and way of living which seeks to excludeโ€”as far as is possible and practicableโ€”all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”, to quote The Vegan Society – out of compassion for the animals is actually pretty easy to keep up. When you go vegan for others instead of yourself, the kinds of minor inconveniences mentioned in your article seem, well, hardly worth mentioning.

Wondering if you can survive five days vegan? Check out my growing list of What Vegans Eat.