My least favorite part of the holidays is not being able to control what I eat. Thankfully, my parents have gotten a lot better about the health value behind the things they’re eating. Unfortunately, it still isn’t my normal diet, and I cannot plan ahead for everything, like how dry the weather is going to be. It took three days before my face dried out (only one for my hair). But I started thinking about what I could do for both of them. Supplements exist yes, but supplements cost money and you need to mix and match to find the right ones, and you have to play a waiting game. I have always been much more of a fan of making lifestyle changes. This lifestyle change is a plant-based diet to help clear up my skin (which has now gone through all kinds of nonsense). I used the Eating Well one week vegan meal plan (found here) to change my diet. The hard part was that I cook for two people, not one. Fortunately, my fiancé loves me and will do (almost) anything for me, including temporary diet changes. The biggest fear I had going into this was the calorie counts. It is lower than my normal calorie intake, and certainly lower than my other half’s. Stay tuned.
Overall, this was a great week! We both struggled through some things, and we both got more powerful. When it was over, we agreed that the meals were delicious and should be added to our regular meal rotation. We also have a better understanding of our carb/fat/protein intake and what that ratio should be to intake food in a lower calorie bracket. I slept great most nights and I felt great most days. We did recall that he doesn’t like blueberries, and I don’t like hummus, which were both common in the meal plan. But now we know. I kept record of some detailed thoughts as the week went on for you to peruse below.
If you are looking for a meal plan to try out veganism, I would highly recommend this one. Even though neither of us intends on being vegan for a lifestyle, it was great for us to learn more and shrink our calorie intake together while eating absolutely delicious foods!
Day 0: Grocery Shopping
I spent a lot more money than I intended stocking up on vegetables and beans that I didn’t have enough of. Fortunately, most of the things I needed were on sale so I think I actually made out okay considering. Important thing to note here is that a lot of these meals use similar ingredients, but they are all ingredients that I don’t normally buy. Which means, in some cases (I.e. Hummus) I was more picky about my brand choice because otherwise I knew we wouldn’t enjoy it. My fiancé conveniently got home right after I had brought everything inside, and before I started taking anything out of the bags. As we were putting things away he told me, “wow! You bought a lot of fresh foods this week! Oh wait, it’s because we’re going vegan.” He’s excited, he even sounded a little excited instead of demoralized. I also told him that he is allowed to cheat, as am I, but I am going to do my best not to. We also discussed some food goals for ourselves this year because obviously we want to look great on our wedding day. That being said, the man (okay, we both did, but he had more!) ate a lot of dairy before bed this night.
Morning: I woke up and realized that I hadn’t bought any chickpeas. Worst part: I stared at the canned chickpeas at Aldi the day before and wondered why I felt like I needed them. I couldn’t figure it out, so I kept walking. Fortunately, there’s a budget grocer around the corner from my house so I picked up two bags this morning. It took two whole songs on the radio for this trip. Meal one was a success, except for the large amount of blueberry juice that stained my sweatshirt after I ate. I modified the pancake recipe to include the blueberries in the pancakes, because I love warm fruit with my carbs. This equated to about 10 blueberries per pancake (1/4 c blueberries for every two pancakes). Oh yeah! The recipe originally called for blackberries. I am allergic to blackberries, thus we used blueberries. Also, I couldn’t get the peanut butter to thin so I ended up with a smear of peanut butter which I placed between the pancakes and it was still delicious.
Lunch: Loaded bean and veggie toast is delish! The recipe merely says “sprouts”, so I went with the one that I eat most often: bean sprouts. I personally think it would have been better with alfalfa sprouts after eating but I still approve!
Dinner: The falafel didn’t blend well in my food processor, so I ended up with fried crumbs, which were actually quite good. The salad was surprisingly filling and I loved the pairing of the dressing with the romaine. It reminded me of a caesar dressing in thickness, but the taste was clearly more authentic to the food style. This meal, though I ate less than a full serving, did induce some belly bloat so that’s something to note. Also, since I purchased the dried chickpeas earlier in the day, I fast soaked them by putting them in a pot and filling it to the top with water, bringing them to a boil, and letting them sit for 1 hour. They doubled in size as they should have, and became a little softer. They were also still warm when they went into the food processor which made shaping easier.
Final thoughts: I ate breakfast late, so I only had my afternoon snack of edamame. My fiancé snacked throughout the day, as I mentioned this was a slight calorie drop for me, but a large calorie drop for him. So even though it was jam packed with protein, he couldn’t shake the hunger. He did stick to vegan snacks though, so I’m really proud. We also learned that he doesn’t like blueberries. I honestly don’t think I have ever tried to feed him a blueberry before this day, because when I buy them I usually hoard them since I love them. So now we know.
Breakfast: I was completely surprised by how easily the berries (100% whole raspberries from Aldi. Mixed berries contain blackberries 99% of the time, so we subbed again) turned into a jam-like substance after only 1 minute in the microwave. This is something I will definitely keep in mind for the future. My favorite Thomas English Muffins are the oatmeal double protein, which is what I intended to purchase, but the grocery store was out. Therefore I used whole wheat as the recipe said. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite filling. I am hoping that the water I drank before breakfast and the coffee I drank after is enough to hold me until snack time.
Other Meals: I can’t finish a full serving size of anything, which is both good and bad. I also did not have my meal planned morning snack of hummus and celery, but rather had a Vanilla Chai Latte Shakeology in the afternoon. I also prepared chickpeas and quinoa for the next couple of days. My fiancé was nice and full after breakfast and ate a late and small lunch (to be specific, he ate the last quarter or so of my lunch that I couldn’t finish). Everything went well today. Hooray!
Full summary: Lunch was yucky, so it was not finished. Which led to an early dinner that was inhaled. I’m pretty sure since I loved every single ingredient, that it was in fact delicious and I wasn’t just hungry. I also decided that because my fridge is packed and since I have enjoyed so many of the meals, Friday dinner is going to be something we have already eaten, rather than the cauliflower curry (besides, the chickpea curry sounds so much better!) Speaking of chickpea curry, that was prepared today as well. Knowing that I will not be cooking tomorrow is a great feeling.
This is doing wonders for my sleep schedule. I am getting restful sleep, and having very vivid dreams (even though I most of them are a little on the sad side, I admit). I gave up my alarm months ago, but for the first time since probably that week I feel rested when I wake up instead of groggy and wishing there were more hours in the night. My energy levels are way up! Additionally, I am truly loving the recipes. I honestly had no idea that eating a plant based diet could taste this good. Additionally, most of the recipes are quick enough that making them on a weeknight is no big deal! However, I am desperately missing real ice cream and I might have some for breakfast on Saturday. (Note: Saturday is also my birthday, so really I’m just doing what is expected of me). (PS- I had the delicious omelet pictured below instead).
Apparently the sleep effects only last a day. Last night was a light sleep, with dreams that I cannot recall. However, the calorie intake is getting more comfortable. I am staying fuller for longer, and I am getting closer to finishing a whole meal (though I still cannot). Rather than doing vegan pancakes for breakfast, we did peanut butter & chia berry english muffins again. The breakdown on these is really similar given the bread is both whole wheat based and there is fruit in each meal. We found that we were more full with the english muffins and that we enjoyed them more so we made adjustments.
Adjustments: loaded bean and veggie toast is not a good work lunch. So, we did a leftover bomb instead. It was delicious and I am so glad that we did.
I was beyond sick of cooking, and my fridge was over run with leftovers so I made my own meal plan up for the whole day. We ended up with a low calorie target, but also a low fat intake. I made sure to pack each meal with protein, which meant that even though we were eating significantly less calories, we were staying full.