It’s time for a confession. On several levels.
First, guess why you haven’t heard from me in a week? Because I’m following an oil-free, alcohol-free vegan diet! And frankly, so far there’s been nothing exciting enough to blog about.
And now I’m going to blaspheme, so all you Engine 2 adherents out there should just turn away now before your feelings get hurt.
Why a vegan diet? Several reasons. All my clothes are tight. And my I’m-a-98%-pescatarian claim dropped quite a few percentage points over the last few months. So I figured I’ll go vegan for a bit, lose some weight and get back on track with healthier eating.
I’d been hearing a lot about the popular Engine 2 diet. (Its fans are almost cult-like in their enthusiasm!) And the book’s author — a “plant strong” (he doesn’t like to use the divisive and sometimes inflammatory “vegan” term) triathlete and firefighter — is certainly extremely healthy, and awfully nice to look at.
So I watched a screening of the movie Forks Over Knives (sponsored by my local Whole Foods), bought the Engine 2 book and enjoyed a talk and Q&A with E2’s Rip Esselstyn.
I’ve been on the E2 plan for a week, and am already getting bored and fidgety.
I don’t mind eating vegan some of the time. There’s no doubt — from both medical and scientific perspectives — that a plant-based diet is better for my body and the earth. I know I shouldn’t drink so much cow’s milk. Humans don’t really need it, and it’s phlegm-producing. Yuck. (And after trying soy and rice milk in years past — ho hum — I’ve now discovered that almond milk is pretty damn tasty. Especially when you accidentally purchase the sweetened kind. It makes the best hot cocoa ever!)
Heck, a few recipes from the years my daughter decided to eat vegan are still in my regular rotation. (Find them at the end of this post.)
Beautiful! Colorful! Fresh! Healthy! Yes, all those. But exciting? Something to look forward to and savor? Not so much.
I love veggies and fruits and whole grains, don’t get me wrong. And I eat more of them than many people I know.
But give up my straight-from-Chianti, pressed-in-November extra virgin olive oil that tastes so bright and grassy? That sprinkling of cheese that instantly adds zing and depth to a dish? A luscious brownie rich with chocolate and eggs and butter? Never eat gelato again as long as I live?
As a foodie, I have to confess that I simply can’t be a vegan on a permanent basis. Well, I can, I suppose — more truthfully, I should say I won’t.
I’ll stick to E2 for the 28-day challenge put forth in the book. No oil. No alcohol. Nothing that comes from any type of animal. I’ll hopefully lose a few pounds and feel oh-so-clean-and-light. And then I’ll return to my 98% pescatarian ways, partaking in other animal flesh only as a special treat once in a while when traveling. I’ll cut down on dairy, pull back from too many, too often rich indulgences. Plant strong, yes. Plant only, no.
And I understand that if I chose to eat the E2 way forever I might add a few more years onto the end of my life. But I’m willing to trade those years of lackluster eating for a slightly shorter life enriched by food, glorious food.
But hey … everybody else can do whatever they please. You eat your way, and I’ll eat mine.
Here are the yummy vegan recipes I promised. Maybe you’d like to try them on Meatless Mondays.
Portobello mushroom bake, serves 4
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (ask any hippie-like person where you can find this delicious liquid seasoning that’s kind of like soy sauce but better for you)
- 1/4-1/2 cup water
- 2 T. balsamic vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 t. dried rosemary
- 1 t. dried oregano
- 4 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- cooked rice
Preheat oven to 350. Grind the almonds in a blender or food processor. Add the oil, Braggs, water, vinegar, garlic and spices and blend well. Put the mushrooms upside down in a baking dish, tightly side-by-side in one layer. Top with onions, pour sauce on top and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve over rice.
Chickpea toss, serves 2, really quick to throw together
- 1 small to medium onion, chopped
- minced garlic
- 2 t. sesame oil
- 1/4 cup chopped olives (please, not those canned black ones!)
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 t. curry powder (or to taste)
- cooked rice
Saute onions and garlic in sesame oil over medium-high heat until translucent. Cut heat back to medium, add the rest of the ingredients except for the rice, and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve over rice.