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.