Healthy foodie goes vegan.

Wait, what? Little Miss I-Heart-Salmon is now eschewing all things animal? Yes, that’s right, folks. I’ve decided to go vegan.

Before you accuse me of arbitrarily trend-following, know this: I have good reason for this decision. I’m in the midst of reading The China Study, a book that has enlightened me to the fact that there is a good possibility that eating animal products can increase one’s chances of getting cancer. As someone whose mother and maternal grandmother had breast cancer, whose father has colon cancer, whose maternal grandfather had prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes… well, any diet that even hints at the possibility of lowering my chances of getting cancer is something I’m going to try. Even if it doesn’t prevent anything, it’s worth a shot, right?

Anyway, today was Day 4 (or Day 2 of strict vegan behavior, because I had a goat cheese and salmon pizza on Friday), and I think I like this. It’s taking some getting used to because it’s such a 180 from the Perricone plan (at least, in terms of type of protein), but I really like that I can have bread and whole wheat pasta, and I’m fascinated that there are so many soy substitutes available. I spent much of this weekend going on supermarket reconnaissance missions that resulted in a refrigerator stuffed to the brims with goodies. I’m especially excited that I can eat potatoes, even though I don’t actually know what to do with a potato to make it delicious. This will be a learning experience, for sure.

For now, I will leave you with a lovely picture of Saturday night’s dinner. That’s a forbidden rice salad (with cranberries, walnuts, celery and red onion), roasted butternut squash, roasted brussels sprouts, and an heirloom tomato salad with soy mozzarella, basil, and balsamic. Isn’t healthy food pretty?

Post-Perricone wrap-up.

No, I did not weigh myself this morning. I don’t need to. I’m back to my pre-Argentina size and am feeling pretty good about it, so why attach yet another number?

Perricone’s plan is expensive and caused me to spend a lot of money on groceries, so I have been barely scraping by for the past week. Fortunately, I had enough foresight to stock my freezer during one of my more avid TJ buying binges, so I was still well-fed, but I needed more fruits and veggies this weekend and found myself out of funds. Ack. The solution? I hauled a bunch of my three-sizes-too-big clothing to Crossroads Trading and Buffalo Exchange, where I was given $42… and turned right back around and spent it on fruits and vegetables at Pike Place. Well, $28 of it, at least. But look how much I got for $28:

There was more, too. I couldn’t fit all of it in the picture.

I’m going to keep documenting my meals for the foreseeable future, mostly because it keeps me (somewhat) honest, but a little because I seem to really like taking pictures of food.

Breakfast… 2 slices turkey bacon; 1/4 cup steel-cut oats with cinnamon and Splenda; 1/2 cup strawberries.

Lunch… 4 ounces mahi mahi; hummus with gluten-free crackers; spinach salad with roasted red bell peppers, cucumber, and feta, dressed with olive oil and balsamic.

Afternoon Snack… 2 ounces melted low-fat mozzarella and parmesan; 1 apple; 4 Tuscan almonds.

Dinner… Italian chicken sausage spaghetti sauce over fettucini-shaped tofu shirataki noodles, topped with parmesan; 1/2 cup broccoli with olive oil, topped with parmesan; romaine and red lettuce salad with tomatoes, chickpeas and feta, dressed with olive oil and balsamic.

Bedtime Snack… Strawberry fudgecicle with chocolate and peanut butter frosting; 4 pecans.

International travel + grocery delivery = cure for homesickness.

I love Amazon Fresh. I really do. I’m so lucky to live in Seattle, where we have amenities like grocery delivery that utilizes local food sources and offers organic, fresh produce. When I lived in the University District, I used Safeway’s grocery delivery, which wasn’t nearly as good because they’d bring me the oldest produce they had. As someone who doesn’t drive, grocery delivery is kind of a miracle.

In Buenos Aires, there are no real supermarkets. It’s like Russia. There are supermercados, but they are seriously lacking in things like really fresh vegetables and cottage cheese (I really miss cottage cheese). Supermercados just don’t feel the same as supermarkets – something is missing. Cleanliness, maybe, but that may be the general sense of dirtiness here.

So you can imagine my delight as I logged onto Amazon Fresh to peruse the virtual aisles of groceries that awaited me. I started my journey last weekend when I was craving that frozen cottage cheese concoction I created the night before I left home, and I’ve just completed my order and scheduled my groceries to be delivered a few hours after I get home. I’ve saved myself the time and effort of going grocery shopping while jetlagged and exhausted, and I’ve quelled some of my homesickness in the process.

We’ll see how I feel when I get back next week, but right now, I’m thinking I’ll make empanadas for my coworkers. I don’t think it would be that much work. Kind of like kulebiaka, but even easier.

I miss my kitchen…

Sunshine!

It was a beautiful day in Seattle – finally. We’ve had a bit of an extended winter, with only a handful of somewhat sunny days, which have conveniently mostly taken place on the weekends. So when I woke up this morning to the sun shining in my window, I was thrilled to be going up to Ballard for my hair appointment.

My hair looks awesome, by the way. I love my hairdresser – I’ve been going to her for a few years now and, not only does she consistently do an amazing job, but she always tells me how much she loves my hair (I’m a total sucker for compliments). And I kind of like visiting Ballard, too – it’s got a quaint feel to it. I’d been meaning to try one of the restaurants up there, so after my appointment, I went off in search of good eats.

I searched for a long time. 1) I wasn’t hungry because I’d had a late breakfast, and 2) it is very difficult – though not impossible – to find a restaurant that serves reasonably sized portions that don’t leave me either uncomfortably full or with leftovers. I walked… and walked… and took a bus… and walked some more… and took another bus… and ended up at U Village. That’s four miles from my hairdresser. I probably walked about three and a half miles, and all in search of food.

Here’s where I ate:

Don’t be fooled by the name – Pasta & Co has quite a few options that don’t have anything to do with pasta, and they’re all delicious, at least the ones I’ve tried. Today, I had 4 ounces of “Gobble It Up” (a turkey/Italian chicken sausage meatloaf) and a black eyed peas and mustard greens salad.

I will admit, I felt a little ridiculous asking the server for 4 ounces of the meatloaf instead of just taking a whole slice like everyone else, but the I realized – I don’t know her. I don’t care what she thinks. I may be an American, but that doesn’t mean I have to eat like Americans are expected to eat (at least, judging by how much restaurants serve). Portion control is a concept that many of us haven’t mastered because there haven’t been good examples of it. Sure, I grew up eating my mom’s cooking, and she always seemed to have a good grasp of how much to eat, but I never really grasped the concept – so when I got to college, I just ate everything, and as much of it as I wanted. I also didn’t cook, so I’d go out to eat a lot. It’s a miracle (and a sign that I won the genetic lottery) that I wasn’t absolutely huge as a college student.

I would also like to know why it is that the cheaper the food, the more of it they give you. This is counterintuitive. You’d think if you paid for smaller portions, you’d be paying less, but that’s only the case at places where they charge based on food weight (which makes total sense, doesn’t it?). If you go to, say, a Thai restaurant and order pad kee mao and crab rangoon, you’d need at least one other person to split it with, and you still end up feeling a little overstuffed. I like the concept of eating tiny portions of many different things, like at kaiten sushi restaurants.

Which brings me to tonight’s dinner. After the delightful lunch, I ventured over to QFC to pick up a few grocery items (mostly fruit). While there, I noticed they had unagi in their seafood case. Pre-cooked, pre-flavored unagi strips, without evil white rice, staring up at me, begging me to take it home. So I did.

This was tonight’s dinner:

That’s a mixed greens salad with a few cherry tomatoes and Japanese black sesame dressing, miso soup, the rest of the noodle salad, about an ounce of unagi, and the salmon cakes and ponzu sauce from last night. I warmed up the salmon cakes in the oven because I was afraid nuking them would cause a loss of crispiness. It was a delicious and light dinner, even though it looks like a lot of food. I really like my meals bento-like.

For my bedtime snack, which has quickly morphed into dessert (go figure), I perfected my baked apple recipe. Or at least, I’m getting closer. The almond milk works really well, I’ve found – complements the apple and spices nicely. I drowned the apple pieces in it this time and I think it made all the difference.

I’m also currently working on a frozen yogurt recipe… will let you know how that one turns out tomorrow (it’s currently in the freezer).

Tonight’s Latin-themed dinner.

As planned, I made these shrimp and avocado quesadillas for dinner tonight, using the spicy shrimp, extra thin yellow corn tortillas (no gluten, low carbs), and a combination of cotija cheese and a low-fat Mexican shredded cheese blend from Trader Joe’s. Photographic evidence:

I tried to flip them fearlessly when instructed to do so, but I think they were stuffed a little full and some of the innards decided to flop onto the pan. I then learned that cheese cooking directly on the pan smells delicious – not sarcasm. I think next time I’ll not-so-accidentally sprinkle some cheese between the pan and the tortilla for some crispy cheese tortilla action.

This lovely quesadilla was accompanied by Cuban black bean bisque, fresh pico de gallo, and the remainder of the avocado and tomato (the portion that wouldn’t fit in the quesadilla). More photographic evidence:

It was almost Perricone-friendly… except for the tortillas and the cheese. But you can’t make quesadillas without tortillas and cheese… it would be foolish to attempt such an endeavor.

Earlier today, I treated myself to smoked salmon from Pike Place Market. I watched the guys throw my fish to each other behind the counter as French-speaking tourists looked on in amazement. I love buying my groceries at Pike Place – I always end up getting something for a discount. Today, I asked for – and paid for – 8 ounces and got 10. When I went on Saturday, I managed to get $17 worth of berries for $15. The only problem is that I usually have to fight my way through slow-moving tourists to get where I need to go, and I don’t usually have the patience. Today was special.

I also picked up a few more cookbooks at World Market on my way home, and finally got the copy I ordered of Nothing Beets Borscht when I arrived at home. What an exciting day of food-ing I’ve had…

And now, to peruse my new cookbooks. Yay!

Day 14.

It’s officially the last day of the two-week feast/diet experiment. Weigh-in tomorrow!

Breakfast

On the menu: Omelet of 3 to 4 egg whites, 1 egg yolk, and a few sliced mushrooms; 1/4 cup steel-cut oats; 4 almonds; 1/2 cup blueberries.

The reality: Omelet of 3 egg whites and 1 egg yolk with a few sliced mushrooms, a handful of spinach, and a sprinkling of feta; 4 cinnamon almonds; 1/2 cup blueberries and strawberries.

Summary: Ah, Saturday morning breakfast – my favorite. By now you should recognize that I love both spinach and some kind of cheese (preferably of the crumbly, goat-originated variety) in my omelets, so those had to be added. I’m once again facing a blueberry shortage, so I used up the rest of the container and supplemented with the few strawberries that still looked viable. Time to go grocery shopping…

Lunch

On the menu: 3-ounce can water-packed tuna; romaine lettuce salad made with 1/2 cup white beans, 1/4 cup feta cheese, 4 cherry tomatoes, and sliced red onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

The reality: 3-ounce can water-packed tuna flavored with a tiny bit of pesto; romaine lettuce salad made with 1/2 cup navy beans, 1/4 cup feta cheese, 4 cherry tomatoes, and sliced red onion, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and a little bit of pesto.

Summary: I really did use very little pesto. Also, I don’t seem to have any white beans, so I figured navy beans would work, too.

Afternoon Snack

On the menu: 1 slice of turkey breast; 4 almonds; 1/2 cup strawberries.

The reality: 1 slice of turkey breast; 4 cinnamon almonds; 1/2 cup strawberries.

Summary: I’d just gotten back from numerous trips to numerous markets, including a visit to Pike Place to pick up strawberries and blueberries. These strawberries were amazing – tasted incredibly fresh, which is more than I can say for the ones I got from Trader Joe’s last week. Fortunately, I got a bunch of ’em. Hopefully the blueberries will be equally delicious. Somehow, I don’t doubt it.

Dinner

On the menu: 4 large shrimp, grilled, baked, or broiled on skewers with mushrooms, onions, and cherry tomatoes; 1/2 cup Cuban black bean soup; romaine lettuce salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

The reality: 4 cooked shrimp with San Francisco seasoning from Whole Foods on a salad of mushrooms, red onion, 4 cherry tomatoes, and romaine, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice; 1/2 cup Cuban black bean soup.

Summary: I hadn’t planned on doing any skewering anyway – I didn’t have the right shrimp for it – and after a day of preparing an Easter feast, I didn’t feel like investing a lot of time in dinner preparation. This was actually quite good and very easy, which was exactly what I was seeking when I started making dinner at 7:30.

Bedtime Snack

On the menu: 1/2 cup cottage cheese; 4 almonds; 1/2 pear.

The reality: 1/2 cup cottage cheese with cinnamon and Splenda; 4 cinnamon almonds; 1/2 pear.

Summary: Last meal of the experiment! And one of my favorites, because I got cottage cheese!

Today’s Exercise

I was quite active today – I walked to and from the market (not far, but it still counts), to Safeway and part of the way back with heavy groceries. I also had many culinary adventures that required a lot of standing, stirring and scooping – not to mention lifting heavy pots full of root vegetables. For conventional exercise, I spent 12 minutes on the stationary bike and 35 minutes on the elliptical to try to make up for the fact that I had to do some taste-tests of the food I was making this afternoon.

Summary

Ah, the last day. I’m anxious to see what effect this has had on my weight tomorrow morning, but I also know that I feel better and my skin is looking really good now. In general, I like what I’ve been eating and I plan on continuing eating this way.

Day 13.

One more day! I’m anxious to see what the scale says on Sunday morning… my measurements are back to where they were before the February cookie-baking craze, so I’m hopeful my weight is at least back to where it was. Regardless, I’m sticking with this eating plan – I like that I’m never hungry and that I get to eat such good food.

Breakfast

On the menu: 2-4 ounces smoked salmon; 1/2 cup plain yogurt; 1/2 cup blueberries; 1 tablespoon chopped almonds.

The reality: 2 ounces peppered smoked salmon; 1/2 cup lowfat plain yogurt with Splenda and cinnamon; 1/2 cup blueberries; 4 cinnamon almonds.

Summary: This was a nice, light breakfast… it also used the last of my smoked salmon for the week and most of the blueberries I just got yesterday. As a side note, are blueberries out of season now? I had some trouble finding them fresh when I was ordering my groceries this morning…

Lunch

On the menu: Grilled chicken breast; green salad topped with 1/2 cup white or soy beans, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice; steamed asparagus.

The reality: Serenada chicken (the remainder of the leftovers from last week; probably about 4 ounces); salad of romaine lettuce, spinach, 1/4 cup chickpeas, 1/4 cup three-bean salad, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and pesto, topped with 1/2 tbsp shaved parmesan; TJ’s microwaveable asparagus.

Summary: Shockingly, the serenada chicken was still good after a week. I used the rest of the leafy greens (except for a few leaves of spinach, which will probably go in the omelet tomorrow morning). I didn’t want to open another can of beans, so I just used the rest of the chickpeas and filled in the extra space with three-bean salad. I decided to add a little pesto to the dressing, which was yummy, and I got a new container of parmesan on my grocery shopping adventure yesterday, so I decided to utilize it. Last but not least, I love the way Trader Joe’s flavors its microwaveable asparagus – very simple, but quite tasty.

Afternoon Snack

On the menu: 1 hard-boiled egg; 1/2 cup strawberries; 4 almonds.

The reality: 1 hard-boiled egg seasoned with a little salt and pepper; 1/2 cup strawberries with a little Splenda and sprinkled with cinnamon; 4 wasabi-soy almonds.

Summary: I wanted something dessert-like, so I sweetened the strawberries a bit, which I don’t usually do. I do enjoy salt and pepper on my hard-boiled eggs, but we already knew that. Which reminds me, I need to learn how to make hard-boiled eggs… I’m on my last ready-made one now.

Dinner

On the menu: 6 ounces grilled bluefin or albacore tuna steak; 1/2 cup grilled zucchini, eggplant, and red or green bell pepper lightly drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese; tomato salsa (preferably fresh).

The reality: 6 ounces parmesan crusted tilapia; 1/2 cup zucchini, mushroom, and green bell pepper sauteed in olive oil and garlic and sprinkled with chili pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese; tomato salsa from TJ’s.

Summary: I didn’t have any eggplant left after the ikra yesterday, so I just did the same saute from yesterday and added bell pepper and a few chili pepper flakes for an extra kick. I enjoyed it. Also, with the fish, I do have tuna, but I didn’t want to defrost the entire pack and have leftovers, so I just baked the tilapia (from Safeway). It didn’t want to come off the baking sheet – it just kind of flaked off – so it looks messy, but it tasted delicious.

Bedtime Snack

On the menu: 2 ounces sliced turkey breast; 4 almonds; 4 cherry tomatoes.

The reality: 2 ounces sliced turkey breast; 4 Tuscan almonds; 4 cherry tomatoes.

Summary: I had my snack tonight right after half an hour at the gym, while watching Super Size Me and being grateful that I know how to eat well and take care of myself. Just thought I’d throw that in as a side note.

Today’s Exercise

I walked a total of 3.5 miles today – to and from work, then to and from Whole Foods. I also spent half an hour on the stationary bike, once again reading Harry Potter. I’ll probably do more tomorrow – I have a bunch of errands to run and I may get back on the elliptical.

Summary

I’m looking forward to this weekend, when I get some good sleep and cook delicious Russian food – and eat whatever I want on Sunday. However, I’m going right back to this diet on Monday. I ordered groceries and will be running around gathering the rest of my ingredients for the week tomorrow. I do like eating like this. I just need to figure out how to incorporate a little more variety. I miss tacos. And stir-frys.