My Family’s 30 Day “Go Go Vegan” Challenge

It’s been about two years since I started this blog. The first time around, I didn’t Go Go Vegan for very long. I caved to the negative pressures of others and didn’t go about the right way.

This time is going to be DIFFERENT!

The important thing is, this time needs to be different. Over the last two years, my health and that of my husband and three kids has not improved at all. In reality, my husband and I are both as big as we’ve ever been and his blood work is not good at all!

A Refresher

A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook about a guy that went on a plant-based diet and got off 19 medications in 6 months! I was super impressed because I really want that for my husband. After I read the article, I realized I was on the website for Forks Over Knives. It had been two years since I first saw the movie, but decided to watch it again.

I was hooked yet again! I watched Forks Over Knives TWICE in 24 Hours. Then I started branching out to all the other movies like it on Netflix.

I watched Vegucated, Food Matters, and Hungry for Change. The more movies I watched and the more reading I did, the more I got excited!

A Quiet Commitment

More than just getting excited, I became more and more convinced that I needed to make this change for my family.

My goal was to attack my husband’s poor health, but I knew I could only really change myself. I hoped to just be a shining example and let my success win him over.

My plan was to quietly just make the change myself. Over the following few days, I just started skipping the meat and leaving the dairy out whenever possible of things I ate at home. A couple family members made comments and teased me a little but it wasn’t any big deal.

Then when my husband and I took our kids out for Mexican and I picked a vegetarian burrito off the menu, I think a switch flipped in my husband’s brain.

Out of the blue, my husband said “Ok, I’ll make you a deal. For the next 30 days, I’ll eat whatever you tell me to eat. At the end of 30 days, we’ll see how it went and decide if we want to keep doing it.”

WOW! To say I was shocked would be an understatement!! Thrilled beyond belief is more like it!

Having my husband support means the world to me, and having him trust me enough to lead him in this journey to better health is incredible!

The Challenge

So now the challenge begins. Actually, it began yesterday.

I am trying to stay as close to vegan as I can, but I’m cooking mainly Low-Fat Vegetarian for my family. I still plan to keep the dairy to a minimum, and keep the junk food out of here. I would be thrilled if my husband and I were both plant-based/vegan/whatever you want to call it because I believe that is the healthiest for us both. For now, I’m just easing everyone else into it all.

I’ll be posting about our 30 Day Challenge here along with our progress and some of the food we’re eating.

Recipe: Creamy Noodle Casserole

This recipe is from the book, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health

Serves 10

Ingredients:

16 ounces whole wheat pasta: farfalle, penne, or other short pasta (I used penne)

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

8 ounces green beans, cut into pieces (I used frozen cut green beans)

16 ounces cooked cannellini beans

1 cup shelled peas (I used frozen)

5 cups vegetable broth, separated

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup mined fresh parsley

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons paprika

1 cup nondairy Portobello mushroom broth, or extra vegetable broth

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta until just under done. Drain. Set aside.
  2. Saute onion, carrots, and celery in water. Cook until soft. Stir in green beans, cannellini beans, and peas. Cook another 5 minutes.
  3. Combine vegetables and pasta and spread in deep 9 x 13 dish.
  4. In saucepan over medium heat, add 1/2 cup vegetable broth and quickly whisk in the flour. Slowly whisk in remaining broth. Add parsley, thyme, paprika, and mushroom broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring until thickened.
  5. Pour the sauce over the noodles-vegetable mixture, and bake, covered for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove casserole, uncover, and sprinkle panko evenly on top. Return to over and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes, until panko is nicely browned. Serve hot.

My Notes:

This recipe went over surprisingly well. When I was putting it together, I leaned over and whispered to my mom, “No one is gonna eat this.” It was a BIG jump from our regular big meat entree with two vegetable sides.

We had family coming over for dinner at the last minute so I doubled the recipe, or almost doubled it. I didn’t have quite enough pasta to double it so I cut back on the broth by a few cups. If I had to do it again, I would have doubled the sauce completely.

I forgot to cover it during the 30 minute bake time so that probably contributed to the casserole being drier than I wanted.

I wasn’t a big fan of the bland panko breadcrumbs so I mixed some Italian bread crumbs with them. I still thought it lacked in flavor for the topping so I would skip the panko next time. It might even be good with a non-dairy cheese.

Overall, I only heard positive things about this recipe….even from the picky meat-eaters of the family. So with some minor tweaks for next time, I’d definitely call it a success.

Vegan Taste Test: Almond Milk

More milk taste testing. The Silk Pure Almond Dark Chocolate milk has been a pretty good hit. My daughter loves chocolate milk of any kind so she wasn’t too hard to please. I thought it was pretty good too. The dark chocolate in the name threw off my son but honestly it didn’t seem to taste like dark chocolate.

The consistency was good too. Not too thin and not too thick like those corn syrup chocolate milks.

Unfortunately, the rave reviews did NOT carry over to the regular Silk Pure Almond Milk. I thought my oldest son was pulling my leg when he said, “I don’t like almonds. This tastes like almonds.” I figured he was just freaking out because of the name. But sure enough, the stuff tastes just like almonds. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that except that the Coconut milk didn’t taste like coconuts.

Oh well, I’m not giving up. I’ve got a few more choices to try. In the meantime, other members of the family have already started buying regular milk again. It makes it pretty impossible for me to insist that my kids drink funky new milk if the regular fattening milk is still showing up in the fridge. The battle continues I guess. I’ll keep you posted.

Feeling Defeated

It’s been a week since I started eating Vegan and although I personally feel great about the decision, I am totally discouraged. I don’t know why I thought for a second that our household could all be on the same page with eating.

So far this week:

  • my brother called me crazy for not buying milk
  • my dad thinks the entire vegan diet is ridiculous and has no scientific proof
  • my kids are complaining that we don’t have pizza, lunch meat, and candy
  • my sister-in-law thinks our pantry is full of crazy food
  • my husband accused me of tricking him about the food I fixed
  • and my grandmother claims to be on board with eating vegan but still eats everything else and feeds my daughter junk food behind my back

As of today, my mom and sister were mostly eating vegan but not entirely. My husband said he’ll eat whatever I fix to eat at home, but he won’t be giving up meat 100% of the time. I doubt he’ll avoid regular dairy products either.

I’m not feeling a whole lot of support right now and I’m just feeling completely defeated.

Is it worth it?

Should I give up?

If we didn’t live with my parents this entire issue would be completely different. I could make a decision with my husband and we could make our plans accordingly. But this combined household situation really messes that up. Now I’m faced with paying for food I don’t want my family eating and trying to keep my kids from eating food I don’t want them having. These are both two major headaches I wish I didn’t have to deal with.

Vegan Taste Test: Vanilla Coconut Milk

Today I tried Vanilla Coconut Milk on my cereal.

Texture: The consistency was fine. A bit like skim milk and I’m used to drinking 2% milk so it was a tad thinner. I much prefer that over something too thick.

Taste: The taste was too sweet for me. Several weeks ago we had some unsweetened almond milk in the house. I didn’t taste that but the folks who did decided it was awful. So we though going with the Vanilla version of the coconut milk and the almond milk was a better plan.

I don’t think I’d reuse it for my cereal if I had a choice but it has definite possibilities for cooking. Plus, other people in the house might prefer it. I saw that there are several other great coconut milk products available. I can’t wait to try the coconut milk ice cream.

Recipe: Vegan Taco Soup

This was the first vegan meal I made for the whole family. We thought it would be better to try out the veggie “meat” crumbles in a dish where it wasn’t so prominent. I was worried about the texture being a problem.

It turns out it wasn’t an issue at all. It had great taste and nothing funny about it. I actually put too much meat in the recipe, but I’ve altered it below.

Prepare this in a 6 quart crockpot or make it on the stove if you’re short on time.

VEGAN TACO SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs. veggie “beef” crumbles
  • 1 large onion, chopped (optional)
  • 2–10 oz. can Mexican-style tomatoes
  • 1–16 oz. can ranch-style beans
  • 2–16 oz. can whole kernel corn
  • 1–16 oz. can kidney beans
  • 2–16 oz. can black beans
  • 1–16 oz. jar picante sauce-you decide how spicy you want

Preparation:

  • Microwave and crumble the “beef”
  • You can brown the onions with the meat crumbles on the stove if you wish.
  • Pour all the remaining ingredients into a 6 qt. slow cooker-DO NOT DRAIN THE LIQUIDS! Pour them into the crockpot.
  • Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  • Garnish your serving with vegan sour cream and shredded cheese and enjoy with corn or tortilla chips.

It’s a great soup–no matter how you fix it!

How the Crew Liked It:

I was pleasantly surprised at how well my kids liked this dish. My youngest son asked for seconds and couldn’t wait to have it for lunch the next day. My husband was a little suspicious at first, but he admitted to liking it as well.

It was definitely a success and sure to be a keeper.

The Start of My Vegan Journey

The movie Forks Over Knives was what caused me to examine my food choices and make the decision to become vegan.

I am not becoming Vegan because of my love for animals or for religious reasons. Honestly, I always thought it was crazy how animal activists act.

I’m doing it purely for health reasons.

I tend to be very skeptical about most things and so I like to learn all I can about something before making a decision.

The film, Forks Over Knives, plainly shows the medical reasons why eating a plant-based diet is the best way to eat for your health. As a daughter of a doctor, the medical truths were new to me but just hit me with a force that could not be ignored.

The movie is available on Netflix instant download.

I really recommend you watch it if you can. The #1 take away I had from the movie is that animal protein is basically fertilizer for tumor growth. Cancer is just so scary because it always seems so unpredictable and unexpected. This video explains how what we eats plays an active role on whether we get cancer or not.

I could go on and on. As I continue to learn more I’ll keep sharing it here.

Thanks for reading!