Tips & Tricks

Kitchen Makeover: Vegan Edition

Some people can jump right into something, both feet in.  Most, however, need to test the water with their toes, then foot, then the other foot.....you get the point.
I truly believe that there are two ways to fail in making this lifestyle change:
1. Don't do any research.
2. Do it all at once.
Inherent in the meaning of the word transition is a process - this isn't an overnight transition - although on the flip side, it shouldn’t be a year-long transition either.  In a few weeks, you should be able to psychologically prepare for the transition, gather and try recipes, get rid of the foods you will no longer be eating, while testing and eating new ones that will be part of your lifestyle.
I made my decision over the course of a couple of months.  After doing lots and lots of casual research, reading more studies and data, learning about different products and recipes, I was in the right mindset to make the change.  It was a gradual process of about two months.  Once the decision was made, it was time to start thinking about the kitchen overhaul.
To give you an example of the kitchen makeover you'll make during the transition, here is a list of the changes that you will be making:
•Out with the cow's milk.  In with the almond milk (or rice milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, soy milk).
•Out with the coffee creamer.  In with the Silk soy creamer (or just switch to drinking coffee black – that’s what I do!).
•Out with the white flour.  In with the whole grain flour or oats (for homemade oat flour).
•Out with the chicken broth.  In with the veggie broth.
•Out with the white pasta.  In with the whole grain pasta.
•Out with the butter.  In with the Earth Balance (to be used very sparingly!).
•Out with the oils.  In with healthy substitutions, depending on the recipe (veggie broth, applesauce, bananas).
•Out with the ranch dip.  In with the hummus.

Out with the mayo.  In with the mustard.
•Out with the white sugar.  In with the dried fruit, maple syrup and honey.
•Out with the cheese sticks.  In with the carrot and celery sticks!
Don't let the door hit 'cha on the way out mayo!! Start small, start now.

SATISFYING CRAVINGS


When you start transitioning to a plant-based diet, you don't automatically start craving fruits and veggies and snacking on broccoli and carrots (although damn, that sounds good right now).  I am a HUGE snacker.....or "picker," as I am often called.  I pick, pick, pick my way through the day and evening.  It's about knowing yourself and knowing your habits.  That way, you can work on adjusting where necessary.

So instead of giving up snacking altogether, because done correctly it can be quite healthy, work on changing the foods you snack on, and having a supply at all times for emergencies.  Yes, emergencies.  No, I'm not being dramatic because let me tell you - come between a woman and chocolate when she has a craving, and she'll rip into you like a monkey on a cupcake.

Also important to identify is what exactly you're craving when you snack.  Next time you have an urge, take a step back and ask yourself:
 •Am I craving salt? 
•Am I craving sweetness? 
•Am I craving crunch? 
•Am I craving creaminess?
Did I just write a rap song?  Anyway, once you've identified the craving, you can decide what will fulfill it.  Here are some suggestions for things that I make when I have cravings.  I'll list them according to craving:
SWEET
•Fruit - easy.
•Fruit smoothie - throw any fruit you have in a blender with some almond milk, ice cubes, etc.
•Frozen Grapes - these little gems tastes like pieces of sorbet.  Sweet, cold, bite-sized.  Snacking perfection.
•Larabars - all whole foods - most flavors are 4 ingredients or less.
•Handful of almonds with a handful of vegan chocolate chips.
•Quick soft serve - Put a frozen banana and a tablespoon or two of any nut butter into a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Add any healthy toppings you want - walnuts, almonds, vegan chocolate chips, coconut, etc.
•Quick raw brownies - a quick and easy dessert - 4 ingredients, 5 minutes to make.
•Cookie dough balls - another quick and easy food processor dessert.

SALTY
•Low-fat tortilla chips and salsa/guacamole - or add avocado pieces, beans, corn to your favorite salsa.  Make your own tortilla chips or buy all natural ones.  There should only be 3 ingredients or less!
•Popcorn - A staple snack of mine.  Make your own - easy and tastes so much better than the microwave kind.  Add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for some cheezy popcorn.
•Handful of nuts.
•Veggies and hummus.
•Kale chips.
Know yourself, know when you're gonna snack and have some or all of these items on hand.  Then start snacking yourself into better health!

CHANGING HABITS


Transitioning into something new is always hard at first - like getting married, for example.  Before marriage, you could go out with friends at a moment’s notice.  After marriage, you need to let your partner know about your plans.  Before marriage, you could get wasted and dance on tables at the bar.  After marriage, you drink tea and have game nights. 

But seriously, the reason you make these adjustments is because it's worth it.  If getting to spend your life with your soul-mate means you can't go out at a moment’s notice or dance on tables at bars anymore, then so be it.  I don't know any happily married people that would change that for the world.
So that's how to view this lifestyle change - yes, there will be growing pains.  Yes, you'll have occasional cravings for things you used to eat.  But it's about changing the old habits and creating new, better, healthier habits.  For example,
•The restaurant you go to every Friday night where you got a bacon cheeseburger from, doesn't have any good vegan options. 
CHANGE THE HABIT.  Find a new restaurant that has some great vegan options!  Any Mexican restaurant, Italian restaurant, Asian restaurant, or other places that have some good vegan options (most steak houses have great veggie sides!).
•You are used to eating eggs and/or sugary cereal every morning. 
CHANGE THE HABIT.  Find a new healthy breakfast that you like - that will be your new staple.  Muffins made for the week, healthy cereal with plant-based milk, fruit, oatmeal, etc.
•You drive through McDonald's for a quick lunch or dinner because you just don't have any frickin' time!!!!

CHANGE THE HABIT.  Start planning - freeze things for quick on-the-go meals.  Make a quick healthy wrap (veggies, beans, hummus in a tortilla) or burrito (beans, rice, salsa, guac in a tortilla).  For emergencies, have some nut butter and all-natural fruit spread on some whole grain bread.  That can be your new fast food.  Does this take a little extra effort?  Sure does!  But guess what....your body will thank you.  You won't feel like total crap (because you definitely will after eating fast food) and you won't feel guilty.  Plus, you won't get cancer and have to go on Lipitor.  It's a win win!

Start small, but start today.  Try changing one habit.  And eventually, you'll feel better, live better, eat better, and have a better quality of life. 

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