Tag Archives: health

The Dairy Free Cooking Challenge: Changes

I have been struggling with this challenge a lot.  I’m going to change it.  I am re-naming it “The Dairy Free Dinner Challenge” as my friend Angela was calling it from the beginning.  Why?  What’s up?  What kind of loser am I?  I was afraid you might ask that.

I have to lose 100 lbs.  I can’t do it not cooking with dairy.  I know that sounds all wrong.  I should find it easier to do because no dairy means a lower fat diet.  Right?  RIGHT?  Yeah, well, going from eating a crap-ton WAY TOO MUCH dairy to not cooking with any dairy is a huge shift and the biggest problem is that I am not satisfied with most of the food I’m cooking.  I have only had pasta once or twice in the past couple of months because I don’t like pasta without Parmesan cheese on it.  I tried a vegan version of Parm cheese and didn’t like it.  (It tasted good to me by itself but I didn’t like it on the pasta).  The only thing that makes my food remotely good is a lot of avocado.  But I can’t have avocado with every meal.

Basically – I don’t want to cook.  I cook and I don’t feel excited about the food I’m eating.  So then I binge on take out food with cheese.  I’m eating cheese enchiladas two times a week to satisfy my desire for tasty and satisfying food.  In case you don’t know it – cheese enchiladas with beans and rice and salsa and guacamole and tortilla chips is pretty much my favorite meal on earth and I could eat it every day and that meal is over 1,000 calories.

I need to not eat out so often for financial and health reasons.  Going out to eat is the only food I look forward to eating anymore.  Normally I go out to eat mostly for the fun of hanging out with my family in a festive environment but my home cooking is better than I can get at most restaurants.  At least – when I’m cooking the food I know how to cook which includes dairy.  I started this challenge because I want to eat a lot less dairy than I am used to eating for health, for sustainability, and ethical reasons.  That goal has not changed.  This challenge was about building a repertoire of dairy free meals that I can be excited about – to learn to cook excellent dairy free meals.

But losing weight is way more important to me right now than anything else.  I’m obese and I know what I need to do to lose it and I keep tripping up and sabotaging my efforts because I don’t feel satisfied.  I want yogurt and fruit for breakfast and I don’t want substitute yogurts made from soy or coconuts or almonds.  Instead I get super hungry because nothing sounds good for breakfast and I make an enormous portion of tofu and toast with tomato and avocado and then I slather that with a cup of ketchup to satisfy that – whatever the hell it is that dairy satisfies – and it’s too much food.  Then I eat a delicious dairy free salad for lunch.  But then I’m hungry again and I don’t know what the fuck to eat.  No pasta… I’m not a rice girl… I could make couscous again I guess… but then I just give in and go get a big combo plate of enchiladas.  Spending money I need to not spend and then, since I’ve already ruined my calorie count for the day I may as well forget about it and do whatever I want and drink as much beer as I feel like.  This is not good.  These are not healthy behaviors.

So I’ve decided to keep learning to make dairy free dinners and build my repertoire and my ultimate goal is unchanged.  I do feel that a diet with a lot less dairy is the healthiest thing to do for myself.  The difference is that I need to give myself a lot longer to reach that goal.  I thought that simply diving in and not cooking with any dairy at all would be the best way to learn to cook without it.  I was wrong.  This is not the best approach for me.  I know what I can cook and eat and be satisfied with while still losing weight.  I did it before.  I lost 40 lbs while still eating cheese and everything I like to eat – I leaned things up a little and developed the self discipline to not have seconds and not have huge portions but I still loved the food I was eating and felt satisfied.

So I’m going to bring dairy back into the house but I’m going to keep developing dairy free meals so that I can build a repertoire of vegan food that satisfies.  One of my best resources is my friend Chelsea who is an excellent cook and who is lactose intolerant so though she eats meat – when we cook together it’s vegan.  She’s got so many meal ideas that sound amazing that don’t involve dairy – so I look forward to learning from her.

And now – it’s almost noon and I haven’t eaten anything yet and I don’t know what to eat because I’ve got no avocado, no bread, and nothing sounds good.  I guess I’ll fry up some potatoes.  That will have to do for lunch.

Good Change In The Air

My mom brought me this diminutive bouquet of English daisies and buttercups to cheer me up the other day.

My treasured elderberry is budding out!  Since I will be digging it out of its bed in the next couple of weeks to transport to California I doubt it will fruit.  The buds will probably just die off.  But the sight of these umbels is still thrilling.

I almost didn’t spot this artichoke in the tall waving quack grass.  There’s one more bud out there so we may get to eat two artichokes this year before we leave.  I intend to grow a bunch of them at my father in law’s if he’ll let me.  I want to marinate my own artichoke hearts eventually.  That’s my favorite way to eat artichokes.

Philip got a job!  He starts on June 1st so he came back up north to us to finish a couple of freelance projects and to help us start packing.  We’re so beyond excited that he got a job (with health benefits!!!!) that we’re kind of floating at the moment.  There’s a lot we have to do for this move to happen and go smoothly and I’m a little overwhelmed but I’m so much less stressed knowing that this part of our life is now settled and we can turn our attention elsewhere.

Some of the things we have to do are use up everything in our freezer.  I think I’ll be making and eating a lot of muffins.  I’ll have to check it every few days to see what I can do with it.  It’s hard to focus on the freezer when the farmer’s market has such amazing produce all of a sudden.  Carrots, favas, spinach, lettuce, and the first zucchinis!  I made an amazing minestrone soup on Friday using mostly fresh local produce and fresh herbs from my garden (I used a tiny bit of loveage, a bunch of oregano, and some parsley and thyme).  It was one of the best soups I’ve made in a long time!  I will be making it again and then I will post the recipe here.  Maybe next week or by the end of this week.

It’s also time for me to start counting calories again and tracking my exercise.  Yes, I know, I said I was going to do that a million times before and as recently as two months ago so what happened?  All that stress and not sharing what was going on and Philip being in a heightened state of stress undermined me completely.  Now that things are lining up and we’re headed home I feel like I can focus on my health.  To me this means eating cheese in much more modest amounts (time to start practicing for my dairy free cooking challenge that begins in August!) and eating smaller portions and really ramping up my fresh produce (not smothered in cheese) intake.  More fruit.  Fruit is not much in season right now and I’m easing up my local food restrictions to help me make the transition to a cleaner better diet.  Don’t be disappointed in me – please! I bought bananas and I’ll be buying cucumbers too and some other things not in season that normally I wouldn’t be buying right now.  Whatever it takes to transition my eating from super cheese laden to much lighter – I’m going to do what it takes.

It turns out I don’t get to go to BlogHer Food in Seattle and I’m bummed about that.  I’m bummed until I realize that the reason I can’t go is because we have huge moving expenses coming up and a paycheck gap between Philip’s new job and old job and the weekend it happens he will have just started work and can’t come be with the kid.  So the second I feel bummed I remember how HAPPY I am that Philip has a job and how excited he is to work for his new company.

Instead I may (big uncertainty here) be able to attend the big BlogHer event that’s in NYC again in August.  We’ll have moved and there’s a good chance that with Philip’s new pay we’ll be able to afford it.  So I want to lighten up before that.

The big thing is that I need to make some shifts and it’s like moving a mountain – but I know that once I get going, once I make a little progress it will be much easier to keep going.  Once I move back to Santa Rosa I am going to join the YMCA which is only a small walk from my new house.  I belonged to the Y for years when I used to live there and I made good use of the gym to lose the weight I gained while pregnant.  The Y is a great place to work out and has some really good fitness classes as well, though I prefer the elliptical and weights.

One last thing before I get back to work – I got two more Culinaria books – the one for Hungary and one for Russia and they are great!!  I intend to convert a few recipes from those books to vegetarian recipes.  The Russian diet isn’t necessarily known to be thin-inducing but they use buckwheat a lot and I’m going to learn to make that well.  I grew up eating buckwheat with steamed vegetables and loved it.  I tried making buckwheat last year and it turned to complete mush on me.  I think the Culinaria instructions deserve a try.  The only difference I’ll make is I’ll only use one tablespoon of butter or oil instead of an entire stick of butter.

I also got a couple of vegan cookbooks from the library and there are some good ideas in them but “The Conscious Cook” relies heavily on processed meat replacements and soy products.  I love tofu but I’m not a fan of highly processed soy products.  That’s one of the things I object to in a lot of vegan cooking.  If I was ever to be vegan I would want most of my food to be free of processed vegan products.  I can see how useful vegan mayonnaise is and when I go dairy free I’ll definitely be using that.  But no fake processed cheeses.  I don’t eat fake processed cheese based on dairy so I won’t use non-dairy versions.  Have you looked at the ingredients on tofu-dogs?  They’re no better than regular ones.  Maybe even worse.

Anyway, I’m ready to start eating better than I have been.  Time to go have a look at the freezer!

Have a great Sunday!