The last week of September people! What a week! I’m looking back on it and just going…wow. Well, as I write it’s more like “ow”. I was out of the house this morning at 5.40 am and ran 20.5 miles. Not just for the heck of it, marathon training in progress! I’m pleased to report we are 4 weeks away….the Marine Corps Marathon is 28 October in Virginia!! My first marathon and first time in Virginia so I’m planning to see some of its historic and iconic sights, my hip flexors willing. From now its tapering time, ramping down the miles, resting the legs and preparing mind and body for the big day.
Back to the week in reflection.
I wrote the above on this day, last year – 29 September, 2018. I was preparing for my first (and to date), only marathon. That blog was called “small goals are big goals too” (you can read it here, it’s a great read, I promise you). I had a flashback. I was reflecting on this week and counting down to my website’s one year anniversary – different year, different theme. I’ll save my musings for another blog…..
Let’s go into present day. I’ve been doing a vegan challenge this month with my gym. You know me and a challenge! It’s for for 30 days but it’s been extended to October 6th.
Vegan, vegetarian, plant based, meat alternatives. Wowzers. No wonder people are confused. I have noticed that in general, the term conjures images of plain, bland, raw veggies, eating leaves, green smoothies etc. Seriously? There are lots of cultures across the globe who live on a vegetarian diet! I am going to write more about what I’ve learnt and burst some myths, when the challenge is done, stay tuned. But for now, I’ll share some insights.
I went for brunch 2 weeks ago and was served a “veggie burger” – a bean and brown rice burger plonked in a bun. No sauce, no fries, nothing. How about caramelized onions? Sautéed mushrooms? Tomato relish? What I’m learning is that that you just need a bit of creativity and will. A bit of seasoning also goes a long way. I’ve made some amazingly, colourful, filling and DELICIOUS meals. My meal prep game has skyrocketed!! Remember when I wrote about that in “Thanksgiving, Thankstaking, Meal prep and me”? Tips on how I plan and prepare my meals at the weekends so I have healthy nutritious foods for the week. Click here to read that.
So far in the challenge, I’ve made carrot curry simply by sautéeing carrots and onions (with some habanero peppers because I likey the spicy), and some coconut milk to balance it out – add a spoonful of tomato stew for a wow factor! Ooh my tomato!! Grilled zucchini with fajita seasoning – simply slice, place on a griddle pan, sprinkle seasoning, done. I’ve concocted a stir-fry medley of broccoli, apples and onions. Spinach with cashews and caramelized onions….I’m re-discovering my love of creating recipes! It just takes a bit of imagination. I’m a picky eater so I start with the flavours and types of food I like. I’m in a challenge group so we were provided with meal ideas and we share recipes. But like I said…I am a girl of selective tastes.
If you’re starting a vegan “journey”, like any other journey, there is a starting point.
1. What is your starting point?
I’m not a big eater of red meat, once or twice or month maybe, fish is my staple, so it wasn’t as drastic a shift for me. If you’re a steak, BBQ, burger, all the meats all the time loving person…. it “may” be tough. May be start with small goals – meatless Mondays for example, then add fishless Fridays. Get comfortable with it. Or you can just do a challenge like I’m doing and go all in! I would say it helps to be in a support group. Don’t go it alone if you haven’t got the will power.
2. What is your why?
Why vegan/vegetarian? etc To eat “healthier”? (I’ll talk about this later), to stop eating meat? To replace meat with plant based meat substitutes? For health reasons? To lose weight? To get that “vegan glow and energy” we hear about? Because it’s trendy? For me, it was a challenge, I wasn’t planning on going vegan, I wanted to see how/if I could do without meat or fish for 30 days and….there’s an and somewhere. Anyhoo. Believe in your why. Period. I had to swap out my Greek yogurt for almond milk yogurt. I almost wanted to not do this. But I had committed to a challenge.
3. Vegan/Vegetarian doesn’t always mean “healthy”!
You can batter and deep fry carrots, does it make it healthy? Yeah, healthier than deep fried oreo cookies! Some culinary establishments will attempt to take anything and try to vegan it. Stay in your lane please. We are enough confused as it is. Watch out for processed foods that are well…”processed”, salt, sugars, added sugars, sugars with different names – sucrose, high fructose corn syrup (or HFCS to fool you), any “ose” is sugar, I’ve seen foods with all of them. In general, do your research, understand what you are substituting what for, decide what you will or don’t want to eat. Don’t assume because it has a vegan etc label, it’s good for you. The marketing is real.
4. Be open minded.
Speaking of mindset, I went into the challenge thinking – what can I eat? As opposed to “my life, my life, I can’t eat meat for 30 days”. Turns out there are TONS of stuff to eat on a vegetarian/vegan diet!! Ok, again it depends on your starting point. E.g., I don’t cook with cheese so I wasn’t looking for a vegan substitute. Two Saturday ago I was hungry and was one traffic light away from caving to an egg bagel and calling it a day, when I spotted “Modern Market Eatery” and remembered it was posted in the challenge group chat. I ordered this Buddha bowl with tofu. I have AVOIDED tofu like the plague!! Ok, maybe I had it once against my will. Turns out I LOVE IT!!! And how PRETTY is this?!! (Below right). You will discover something new about yourself. Ps, take a snack when you’re out and about so you’re not hungry on the go. It helps to avoid temptation.
5. Be creative.
I made “vegan” pancakes (above left) with oat flour (ground in a blender), some honey, baking powder, a scoop of unflavoured egg white protein powder (vegan) and a banana as a binder (egg substitute). Turned out DELICIOUS. I found the recipe on Google. I added chia seeds to it and I had them with peanut butter! Just a little honey. My objective is to take any dish and put a healthier spin on it. Combine “stuff”, don’t make a big deal out of it. It’s just food. Think of the flavours you like and use that in your creations. (ps, I use these pancakes as snacks).
I am eating more carbs than I usually do – rice, potatoes, beans. I would’ve balanced this out with fish typically but I use them as sides. I get most of my carbs from vegetables – cauliflower, broccoli. Frankly, I just combine everything however it suits me! Carrots have become my new staple love now, after inventing my carrot curry dish! Quite by accident too! I had to go grocery shopping and only had carrots and onions at the time. Everyone who has tried it has LOVED it. Do you know carrots are mainly composed of water and carbs?!! Issa goal!
Ok, it’s 1.30am now. I’m going to bed. Here’s to smilefit being a year old. One more day.
Do you know smilefit is an acronym?
- S – Start now
- M – Move your mindset
- I – Innovate your workout
- L – Love yourself
- E – Eat and establish a fitness routine
FIT is an acronym too – “Fitness Inspiration Today”! I hope I have inspired you today! How do you #smilefit?
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Cover photo – credit to Myriam Zilles from Pixabay