How Do You Do It?

When people hear I’m “vegan”, the first question they typically ask is: “But how do you do it?” followed by “So what DO you eat?” which can be interchanged with “Where do you get your protein?”

Once they ask the first question, I tend to answer “It’s easy, really. I just don’t eat meat or any animal products.” Their response 98% of the time is a shaking of their head and “But HOW can you live without meat? Without BACON?!” and I smile and repeat “It’s really easy.”

To the 2% that are interested in an actual answer, show genuine interest, and won’t go down the meat/bacon road, this series of posts is for you.

Giving up meat wasn’t all that hard for me. I’ve felt somewhat conflicted about eating meat all my life. It might have to do with the fact that I grew up on a little farm, where we lived as self-sufficient as we could. Raising animals for their products and meat was a big part of that self-sufficient life style. From as long as I remember I was part of that, and responsibility grew with age. When it was Schlachttag (word-by-word translated to “Slaughter day”), everyone lend a hand, from aunts & uncles, cousins, to neighbors, and us kids. It was a big event, and as you could imagine, it takes a lot of hands to take care of 240-270 lbs of meat. As kids, it was kind of fun. Everyone got together, we got to run around and play outside, and there was delicious, fresh sausage and Schnitzel to eat. As I got older, and realized what it was really all about, I became more and more grossed out by it. The day (generally a Saturday) started by being woken up by a screaming and crying pig at 4am, when it gets picked up for slaughter, arriving at the slaughterhouse later on when the carcass is cut up in big parts, and we had to package and label hundreds of pounds of fresh sausage, and different cuts of pork. We filled laundry basket after laundry basket, and after every helper picked some for themselves to take home, we transported the rest, and filled up our three freezers. Smoked sausages and bacon were hung on rods in the pantry, until they were also ready to be frozen. The whole house had a distinct smell of fresh meat for the coming week, which people thought was delicious, but always made me gag.

So maybe it’s because I learned from a very young age, where meat comes from. The bacon you enjoy so much, used to be a piglet. That steak you had for dinner, used to be a cow. And not happy ones, like they’re trying to make you believe in the advertisement, but that’s a whole different story. I could just never fully grasp the concept of getting a piglet, putting so much work into raising it, just to end up slaughtering it. And do you know how they’re slaughtered? (Keep in mind, this is how we slaughtered them on a family farm, the meat you buy at the supermarket is a whole different story) First, the pig gets transported to the slaughterhouse (which isn’t a joyride, pigs are very intelligent, and show clear signs of distress like crying and screaming). After arrival at the slaughterhouse, the pig is first rendered unconscious by stunning it with a captive bolt pistol. Then it’s hoisted up so it hangs on a big hook from the ceiling, from where it gets exsanguinated (ex·san·gui·nate  [eks-sang-gwuh-neyt] to drain of blood, to bleed to death) Note that the pig is still alive when this happens, it’s unconscious but it’s alive. After the blood is gone, the hair gets removed, then the organs get taken out, the head gets cut off, and the carcass will be cut in two. The halves are being washed, cooled down, and the cutting and deboning starts. The meat is getting cut, smoked, ground into sausage, packaged. The whole day started at 4am and ended around 8pm.

So maybe the connection between the animal, and the how it became the food on my plate, is why giving up meat was easy for me. And no, I don’t crave meat, or Bacon.

Picture: Pinterest

Back to College & Bean & Beer Chili

Wow, so this was my first week of classes. I’m a college student (again)! So far, I’m really enjoying my classes, especially the two that aren’t online. I go to school two days a week, and the two classes I have are taught by the same teacher. My teacher used to be Powerlifter, coached Powerlifters and Navy SEALS. He is really passionate about the field, and really knows his stuff. I really like that about him, the fact that he teaches with passion just gets me more and more into the whole field of Exercise, Nutrition, and even Bio Chemistry. I’m sure I will learn a lot from him during this semester. I take two more classes online, Biology and Health & Wellness, which are also pretty interesting so far.

I’m now juggling work and school, which takes up most of my time. I’m still trying to fit my workouts in, but school must be my top priority for now.

However, I’ve been wanting to share a recipe with you. I made Thug Kitchen’s Bean and Beer Chili and OMG! This was so freakin’ delicious! If you don’t know Thug Kitchen, check them out. The recipes are amazing, and the guys over there are hilarious! This would also be a great meat-free alternative for you Superbowl Party ;)

Today’s Field Trip

One of the nice things about living in this new city is that everything is so much closer. This includes a Trader Joe’s.

 

I haven’t been to a Trader Joe’s before, but I’m absolutely in love with Whole Foods (although not with their prices). So for this week’s grocery shopping the hubs and I went and checked it out. Well, I like it a lot better than “normal” supermarkets or the commissary. And I love their prices! It makes me feel so much better to buy and eat organic and fair-trade stuff, but I just couldn’t really afford it before. Not anymore thanks to Trader Joe’s :). I also got cruelty free shampoo and conditioner for $2,49 a piece. I also “splurged” on a bottle of white wine and some dark chocolate. Another plus: it’s only about 10 minutes from our house. My new way to go is most definitively organic and vegetarian.

Also, across the street from Trader Joe’s they’re opening a Whole Foods! I can not be happier at this point.  Actually yes, I could be if I could find a new job some time soon so I get my own paycheck to spend at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods :)

Here’s just a few quick pics of the stuff we got today. It looks random, since I didn’t arrange the stuff to snap a pic. The hubs laid it all out on the counter because he thinks it’s easier to put it away that way. Anyway, I’m excited about the nut-chocolate spread :)

Image

 

After this, I couldn’t resist to get a costume for Captain. I really wanted to dress him up as a cow, but the hubs put in his veto for that. So this is what it is:

I think it’s pretty hilarious :).

 

 

Food Highlights

Here are some highlights of what I’ve been eating while visiting Germany. And no, it’s not really healthy. But so so so delicious!

I was so excited about all my favorite foods from home,  I didn’t hold back. I gave in all cravings, forgot all about carbs, fats, or sugar contents. And it was great! Well, for the moment t least ;) But isn’t this what vacations are all about?

(By the way, my picture editor isn’t working right lately, so I’m just uploading these pics straight from the camera without editing.)

Yes, It’s Vegan!

One of the first foods I had when I came to the Unites States was Tacos. And I feel in love with them right there and then. Tacos are oh-so-delicious, and there are tons of recipes with tips out there on how to make them a bit healthier.

I came across this amazing vegan(!) Black Bean Taco Recipe, and this is the only way I’m making Tacos since. Although I have to add, since neither I or the hubs are vegan, we do add dairy toppings to them. I also always make fresh guacamole to go with them (I’m totally in love with avocados). They are so good, I have to share the recipe with you.

 

Black Bean Tacos with Corn Salsa

 (serves 4)

Ingredients:

Olive Oil Cooking Spray

2 cloves garlic

2 1/2 cups canned black beans (rinsed & drained)

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 TBSP chili powder

1/2 TSP Cumin (optional)

1 TSP salt (divided)

1/2 TSP freshly ground black pepper (divided)

8 small corn tortillas

1 cup corn (thawed if frozen)

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 small green chile, diced

2 scallions, chopped

juice of two limes

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a food processor, chop the garlic. Add the beans, oats, cornmeal, chili pepper, cumin,  3/4 TSP salt, and 1/4 TSP pepper. Process until mixture is combined, stopping to scrape down the sites a couple of times (about 1 minute).

Crumble bean mixture onto the prepared baking sheet (do not stick your hands in the blender, use a spoon ;)), and coat lightly with some cooking spray. Then bake the bean mixture until it’s firm and crisp on the bottom, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Use a spoon to break up pieces of bean mixture, turn it, and coat again lightly with the cooking spray. Bake until the bean mixture is crisp all over, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Warm the tortillas in the oven for about 5 minutes.

To make the corn salsa combine the corn, chopped red bell pepper, diced chile, chopped scallions, and remaining salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice, and add fresh cilantro.

Nutritional Info for the recipe as is above:

321 calories per serving (2 tacos), 3g fat, 60g carbs, 13g fiber, 14g Protein

My taco topped with guacamole, fat-free sour cream, and some cheddar cheese.

Vegan Black Bean Taco with Corn Salsa and Guacamole

spaghetti overhaul

A few days ago I stopped by the Commissary after the gym to get some eggs and milk. I use the gym on the Naval Base the Hubs is stationed at, so the Commissary (it’s what the Navy calls the Grocery Store on base) was convenient. The produce is right at the entrance and I walked right into a display of Spaghetti Squash. Now, don’t ask me why there is a sale on a winter squash (at least I believe it’s a winter squash, correct me if I’m wrong) in June but the commissary can have funny sales like that from time to time. Anyway, I grabbed one and went ahead getting the eggs and milk. I was really good at that quick stop since I really just picked up these three items, instead of coming out with several grocery bags full of stuff, and in the end forgetting the thing I actually went to the store for.

I have had Spaghetti Squash only once a couple of years ago, but I’ve read a lot about it since. I spent some time looking up ways to cook the squash and as it turns out it’s super easy! I was toying with the idea of trying a recipe with a white sauce, but went for the meaty spaghetti sauce I had frozen. I like to make a slow cooked meat sauce from scratch in a big batch and freeze individual portions for a quick, easy and delicious dinner. This was the last of it, so I will be making some sooner and later and I’ll post the recipe then. So much better and healthier than any store-bought sauce!

You can bake, boil, steam or microwave the squash. Once cooked, the flesh separates into string like strands like spaghetti. One cup of cooked Spaghetti Squash has only about 42 calories, and 10 grams of Carbs (4gr as sugar) according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient database. A cup of cooked Spaghetti in comparison has about 225 calories, and 43 grams Carbs. Spaghetti squash has a high water content and is not as dense in vitamins and minerals as other winter squash, but if you’re watching your calorie or carbohydrate intake it makes a great Pasta Substitute. Plus it is delicious ;)!

Here’s how I cooked my Spaghetti Squash:

  • pre-heat oven to 350 F
  • cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds and pulp
  • bake the halves cut side down (use a cookie sheet) 30-40 minutes, let cool for a few minutes to make the squash easier to handle
  •  separate the strands by running a fork through the flesh from stem to stem

I did add a little salt & pepper to the squash before serving but with the flavorful sauce it wasn’t necessary at all.

It was such a delicious, quick, and easy dinner, plus we had enough left overs for both our lunches the next day. I will definitively start experimenting more with spaghetti squash and try it with different sauces. I read it’s also delicious if you just toss the cooked squash with some olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper and some Parmesan in a skillet, hmmmm!