The final day of the vegan week experiment is over. As promised, it started humdrum but ended with some good experimentation and flare!
Can you guess which vegan breakfast I started my day off with? One hint, it’s pretty much the exact same thing I ate every other day, in variation. This time it was all the same cereal and just soy milk, no berries. While part of me says three months of that is going to get old, I can honestly say that I have gone months eating the exact same health bars every morning. Variety is good but not necessary in the end as long as it’s healthy and as long as it’s not every meal of every day being duplicated.
Lunch was something quick so that I could get other stuff done for the day. A quick, but large, salad of just mixed greens, carrots and celery dressed with an assortment of various seasonings on top then mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. To add some protein I toasted up some homemade whole wheat baguette from the freezer and slathered on some of the artichoke and spinach hummus I’m still working through. While it was a good volume of food I thought I would be hungry quickly. I actually wasn’t hungry until dinner time. I did have a couple of carrots after my afternoon workout, but that’s just from habit of trying to replenish depleted glycogen stores from running.
Dinner is where I finally got to break out again. Once again a big thanks to my friend, Eric, whom recommended these recipes. Dinner has been the opportunity for me to try new recipes and tonight was no exception. For dinner proper I made Oven Baked Vegan Mexican Quinoa Casserole. Time-wise you have to prepare to have it take over an hour to cook, however the actual interactive time is quite small. I’ll have a detailed write-up of everything, but needless to say this produced enough food to fill my three quart cast iron dutch oven combo cooker. Whether you are trying to eat vegan or not, if the idea of spiced up quinoa, stewed tomatoes, corn and black beans sounds delicious then you should really try this recipe. If quinoa is just not your speed you can always instead use some sort of rice and get a similar effect. I had concocted my own similar recipe via a different cooking method and I think I’m going to use this one from now on.
I once again chose a dessert as the final cooking project of the experimental week. I capped off the paleo experiment with Paleo Bacon Maple Ice Cream. For the vegan experiment I chose to make a vegan Salted Caramel Vegan Cupcake. I thought I had picked up everything I needed from the store, but I forgot to get the vegetable oil. Part of me says that’s a good thing since that’s not a really healthy oil. The other part of me said that there is nothing healthy about this recipe, regardless of whether it has a “vegan” label or not. The point of this wasn’t to be healthy, it was to try to make a vegan-compliant delicious dessert. So with no vegetable oil I substituted olive oil. Anyone who has done this for a cake or any other dessert knows that olive oil is going to change the flavor of it. Since it is far more flavorful you are going to taste it. In hindsight I probably could have used the coconut oil instead, which is almost flavorless. Oh well, it just made them have a hint of olive oil flavor, not enough to totally blow it. The icing was interesting because I had never made an icing like this before and never by hand. Once I did a cream cheese icing for a carrot cake, but that was it. After all that effort what was left was a dozen delicious cupcakes (sorry, I ate one before the pic) :
I can honestly say that unless someone had told me these were vegan I would not have known. The cake was fluffy. The icing was as rich as you’d get in a non-vegan icing. The cake had a lot of richness too, but sadly a tinge of olive oil flavor too. It was the olive oil flavor that made these taste different. Otherwise I could probably serve them and have no one be the wiser. Again, as with the paleo ice cream, we need to not be fooled that these are health food items because of their label. These are desserts through and through and should be treated as such. For my real final meal of the night I chose my typical bowl of berries.
During all the cooking of dinner and dessert my partner and a friend of ours hung out to watch the whole process unfold. Everyone except me were drinking a beer while I was sipping my seltzer. Yes, there is nothing wrong with occasional alcohol on the vegan diet plan, but for one week I said I’d abstain which I continued to do. The real trouble I had was with the food we laid out while waiting for everything to cook. Both of them were chowing down on fresh, paper thin sliced proscuitto ham with an assortment of cheeses. I had none of it nor anything to replace it. It was probably the most deprived I have felt all week but I didn’t indulge. Since my partner didn’t like the ingredients in the casserole I went ahead and made him a personal pizza with the dough left over from earlier in the week. While making that I had several times where I was instinctively going to sample the cheese or just throw a casual handful into my mouth. Thankfully I never got that far, but it was still very tempting. I enjoyed the challenge of simulating what it would be like over a three month period with no breaks for weekends, vacations or holidays. Truthfully it’s a pain in the butt, but that makes the challenge more interesting.
Tomorrow I’ll be summarizing how the week went nutritionally. Today however was a good end to a good week of vegan experimentation.