Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Our Way of Eating

I just want to give everyone a general overview of the way Steve and I eat in case you're interested in eating the same way.

First and foremost, we are vegan. Vegan means that we consume no meat (beef, poultry, seafood, etc.), no dairy (milk, cheese, butter, etc.), no eggs, and no honey. This is an ethical standpoint for us. We don't want to contribute to the cruelty of factory farms. We're not preachy vegans, so I'm not saying this to try to convince anyone to be vegan. But I will gladly provide help and information if asked.

Secondly, we try to eat mostly whole foods. We've given up a majority of processed and pre-made foods (we still have our slip-ups, occasionally). This has done amazing things for our health! We've both lost a good bit of weight, and just feel better.

We also use practically no oil when cooking/baking. It is just a processed form of pure fat (no fiber, protein, or carbs). I never use it when sauteeing veggies on the stove; I just add a bit of water if the veggies start to stick. We never deep-fry foods, and will instead bake them in the oven. But I will occasionally use it when roasting veggies in the oven if it will help the texture/flavor. To me, in a lot of recipes the only thing oil does is add calories. The food tastes just fine without it, so I prefer to leave it out.

Because we don't eat oil, we also don't eat vegan margarine or store bought vegan cheese. I may someday attempt vegan margarine using cocoa butter. I frequently make vegan cheese, and it is delicious!

We eat organic foods as much as possible. Unfortunately, the nearest Whole Foods is over an hour away, and we don't always have access to good organic produce at our local grocery stores. Luckily, the Aldi that is a very easy walking distance from my house is now carrying organic apples, bananas, grape tomatoes, spinach, mixed lettuce, and white potatoes (and it is always in stock when I go there!). This makes my life so much easier! I can just walk there (we only have one car, and Steve takes that into work) to get our produce staples. The Giant Eagle in our town also sells organic produce, but I feel like we're at the whim of whatever they feel like carrying that week at whatever price they feel like selling it for. I can't always find organic broccoli, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, lemon, or limes there. I sometimes base our meals for the week on what we can buy organic at Giant Eagle. (For example, they had organic cauliflower and organic sweet potatoes last time we went, so I made veggie korma with it today) Having the garden is great because we know we'll have access to organic produce that we use a lot.

Then, on top of all of this, I follow an anti-inflammatory diet as prescribed by my doctor. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 5 years ago and following this diet has helped tremendously. I have only had a few flare-ups and have never been on steroid treatment.

The anti-inflammatory diet cuts out: gluten, red and white potatoes (sweet potatoes are ok), tomatoes, corn, citrus fruit (a little bit of lemon and lime are ok), peanuts, alcohol, and caffeine. Steve still eats these things, but not me.

You're probably thinking "What DO you eat, Amanda?" I often joke with Steve that the expression "you are what you eat" can't be true because I am nothing like a chickpea. I eat a lot of chickpeas. Falafel, hummus, chicky-pea salad, BBQ chickpeas, chickpea cutlets, chana masala, I even make blondie brownies out of chickpeas!

Side note: Did anyone else read the article about Hummus Conquering America a few months ago and get really excited? No? Just me? Well, companies are trying out a variety of chickpeas that is able to grow in Virginia climate, not just the Pacific Northwest! So when we start up the full homestead I might be able to grow chickpeas here!

... ok, sorry about the chickpea tangent ...

So the way we choose to eat means that I make a lot of things from scratch. Things that people may not even consider to make at home: grinding grains into flour, bran flakes, plant milks, vegan cheeses, granola, condiments like whole grain mustard and tomato-free BBQ sauce, fresh nut/seed butters (like almond, cashew, tahini, hazelnut... LOVE my Vitamix!) tempeh, tofu (haven't made it yet, but I plan to attempt it), seitan, crackers, fresh pasta noodles, etc. And I love it! I find great satisfaction in knowing exactly what is going into my food. Everything tastes better too.

It probably sounds like I would be in the kitchen all the time. This is somewhat true; there are days when I feel like all I do is prepare food. But I've also figured out some shortcuts and make-ahead meals so I don't need to cook dinner from scratch every single night. I'll share those tips on here.

I will post some of my recipes or links to recipes we really like. That way everyone can see that it is possible to follow a healthy diet that is satisfying, compassionate, and delicious!