Viva la Vegan Day 12 (disappointments and talk of tempeh)

September 28, 2017

Don’t panic! Nobody panic! The cookies are tucked away in a pan with a lid and a slice of bread to keep until Saturday after the race. Phew! It’s all going to be alright. Not even being temporarily vegan can stop me from taking some cookies to pound town.

(p.s. This is not a birth announcement. This is Sloppy Joan workin’ some hand-me-downs. Don’t freak, Mom!)

This morning, on my drive in, Rich Roll was discussing his Vitamix blends. Essentially, homeboy rounds up every ingredient of the earth – fruits, veggies, hemp, herbs, coconut kefir, spirulina, nuts, chlorophyll – throws them in the high-powered blender (whole, i believe) and pulverizes them into various juices. He has one for breakfast, one before dinner and one after dinner, if he wants dessert (fruit, coconut milk and cocoa). His ingredients vary, depending on whether he needs energy or recovery.

Curious, I jumped online. I want to pulverize healthy stuff and drink it. Did you know that the most basic Vitamix is $300? Three hundred dollars!! For a blender. A small machine with blades in the bottom. I’m really going to need to turn up the heat on this side hustle business if I’m going to procure a $300 blender. Can it possibly be worth it? Would I get my money’s worth? My questions are endless.

7:30 a.m.
I changed up my smoothie today. My Ninja suddenly seeming subpar, I managed to liquify my experimental recipe: 1.5 teaspoons spirulina, .25 of a banana, 1 scoop chocolate plant-based protein powder, 1 tablespoon slivered almonds, 1 teaspoon hemp seeds, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, 1 cup spinach.

This drink is turquoise, man. Surely it should turn me into a superhuman powerhouse with one sip. If I don’t finish this post, that happened.

There’s an appreciation cookout at work today. It’s a meat fest. I wonder if I will ever get to a point where slow cooked pork just isn’t appealing to my olfactory senses in the least. This spread featured phenomenal smelling Korean BBQ sandwiches, Black and Blue Salmon Burgers and hot dogs … For me? Bagged lettuce and asparagus. I decided to head home, instead, for a delightful repeat of my taco salad from the day before. Leftover taco “meat”, guacamole, a dollop of plain coconut yogurt, salsa, and crushed tortilla chips. Today I also added a tablespoon of Seeds of Change quinoa and brown rice. Hoping to feel a little fuller a little longer today.

Confession time: In some ways it feels like I’m not doing this right, or my body isn’t adapting. Something is off. The last few days I’ve felt so bloated. Like, none of my skirts fit and it kind of looks like I’m a tad pregnant … with twins. Not exactly the look I was going for when I set out on this whole thing. I launched a full investigation, meaning I pulled up MyFitnessPal and started diving into the macros, because that’s the only thing I know to do. My sodium was high yesterday; 900g high to be exact. I’m thinking that’s part of it.

The biggest offenders appear to be the fake meats (seitan and “beef” crumbles), which tend to be pretty high in sodium, as does guacamole, which I didn’t really realize. I cooled it on the nuts and seeds, because I suspected those were contributing to my vegan weight explosion, but I was still over yesterday without them. And I can’t lose the guac, you guys, I just can’t.

Guacamole has been my constant. Through all of the Whole30s and sugar detoxes and now vegan experiment, guacamole has been there. It’s a comforting, indulgent, familiar friend that makes me smile in every way. On an egg sandwich, with tortilla chips, on hot dogs, on burgers, on fried tofu, on tacos. I don’t care, I love it. I need it. I want it. I can’t fathom the thought of a world without the green stuff. I don’t want to. So that sodium in particular is going to have to stay.

Luckily there’s Google to fetch me a sea of strangers who have experienced or are experiencing the same crazy things as me. According to the blogosphere, bloating is incredibly common for beginner vegans and usually subsides within a month or so of adopting the diet. So 16 days after this experiment is done, I’m going to be in good shape.

These veteran vegans recommend a range of things to get your tummy moving in the right direction. Those who attribute the bloat to a messy microbiome, suggest strong probiotics and foods that naturally promote more of the good bacteria in your gut. Others point the finger at the dramatic increase in fiber and carbohydrate consumption that accompanies the vegan diet, and recommend good grains, patience and Beano.

The answer for me, specifically? No clue. Bigger skirts.

But it does feel like, although I am feeling some success in other, more subtle, ways, I’m not seeing the weight loss people probably expected or were hoping to see (no one more so than me). And that kind of feels like I’m letting everyone down, mostly myself.

7 p.m.
Another night, another recipe that demands way too much time to prepare. I made a Madeira Peppercorn Tempeh from the Crazy Sexy Kitchen cookbook. It’s my fault, I should have read ahead. The tempeh had to sit in a stovetop sauce for an hour, at least. Then the sauce had to sit and thicken for 20 extra minutes. I ask you, who has 80+ minutes to watch something cook?

And let’s talk about tempeh for a sec, shall we? It’s soybeans fermented to make a cake. Earth Fare had original, flax or whole grain. I figured original would be best for a beginner. I ate it. But I still don’t really know what it was. Who knew that soybeans could be manipulated to create so many questionable food things?

Everything was going wrong tonight. The fuse in the kitchen kept popping and dinner was already running late because of the generous marinating times and JoJo was trying to climb the crabapple tree in the backyard and it was all just a big, messy shit show. And to top it all off, it wasn’t that good. I hate nothing more than when I work my ass off to make something and it tastes like pink school erasers in a semi-decent breading.

It wasn’t a total loss. The sauce with this recipe was good. A pain in the ass to make, but good. It was basically scallions, wine (I used Chardonnay because who the hell has Madeira laying around), vegetable stock, vegan butter and thyme. It had a really nice flavor, which was good, because the tempeh was less than awesome. In the recipe’s defense, it would probably be really good with tofu. The tempeh texture was bizarre and off putting. Even Hank struggled with it. It got worse the more I tried to push through.

I rounded out the meal with baked potatoes (I put vegan shortening and half a slice of this new Chao Creamy Original cheese I got at Earth Fare that was so good), roasted beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots, and berries.

Then I ate two vegan sugar cookies – such a loser – and watched the premier of This is Us. You guys, that last scene …

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