Plant-Based…Again.

Y’all know I’ve called myself a “lazy herbivore” for over a year now. I like to eat plant-based when I can but I also don’t memorize hidden animal products in weird ingredients and I like to enjoy the random office treat (because I work in a real estate office and THERE ARE ALWAYS TREATS) which is rarely vegan. I don’t like the word vegan because it garners a lot of anger and hatred. From MEAT EATERS and vegans alike, which is really weird. I also just recently bought a handmade leather item from a leather-crafting friend (a purchase I justified by looking at the global impact of buy that versus a synthetic/plastic item made in a factory in china) and things like that make me using the word “vegan” almost illegal.

ANYWAY! PLANT-BASED! LAZY HERBIVORE!

I wasn’t eating very well in the months since my weird bought of depression started after my 100K.

Wait. Speaking of that phase – I let me get back to that for one second.

The reason it took me awhile to get help was because I didn’t feel like I matched my friend’s experiences with depression at all. It was a weird sadness that I think I just described as “tainting everything” but that I was functioning fine (except for the over-eating) but I just felt BAD. In general. Well, Heather is going through the same thing and – of course – described it beautifully.

But a low buzz of sadness hangs onto every minute of my day like a soggy cotton sweater. I wake up almost every morning with tears in my eyes from having cried in my sleep. For no reason.

Full entry here

ANYWAY! I was eating terribly while I was wearing that soggy cotton sweater. And I cared a lot less about the whole “plant-based” thing because I was trying to make a shift in the negative energy I was feeling: Sadness, Anxiety, Overwhelming Dread etc. My Grief Recovery calls these things we fall back on: STERBs (Short Term Energy Relieving Behaviors). Food is my STERB. Basically, when I’m sad/stressed/whatever-bad-feeling – I know food will break that energy inside of me. It disrupts it for a moment, maybe not feeling “better” in a true sense but feeling “different” which my mind associates as “better” – so I go to the food. And from February until May I had kinda stopped caring even what food that was.

And holy SHIT I felt disgusting.

So, as part of all of the recovery I am trying to get back on track because I felt BETTER even on a BINGE day when I was eating plant-based. I bought the book I’ve heard so much about: How Not To Die and I’ve been trying to make note of the foods I’m eating throughout my day so I can just say, “Is this good for my mind, body, and soul?” for at least a moment as I write it down.

And – I’ve decided to try to eat salads.

See, I have this weird problem as an herbivore. My stomach is very sensitive to whatever it is on the outside of plants that sometimes makes you feel like you’re digesting rocks. I haven’t tested it thoroughly because the pain is debilitating, but basically things like raw broccoli, almonds (not almond milk, just almonds and almond butter), some greens, advocados…they cause me extreme pain and discomfort and so I cook the shit out of everything.

BUT! Fresh is so much better! Right?

SO. I’ve been playing around with salads for about a month now while I test out items and see if they don’t make me want to die. I started with spinach greens because they’ve never bothered me and then built/tested from there and NOW I HAVE THE RECIPE FOR KIM’S PERFECT SALAD.

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Just to make sure you appreciate the effort that goes into this salad from someone who HATES ALL ACTIONS RELATED TO COOKING – I need you to know: Everything had to be cut by me. NOTHING WAS PRE-CUT. I mean, the Spinach was bagged but it was WHOLE. I even cut the tiny tomatoes! I CUT IT ALL.

  • Spinach
  • Carrots (peeled and cut fresh – no mini carrots for this girl)
  • Baby tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Kalamata Olives (I buy the whole pitted an then cut them b/c the pre-sliced ones seem slimier)
  • 1/2 TBS of Chia Seeds (I’m scared about braving more due to my tummy issues, and that shit is EXPENSIVE)
  • 1 microwaved and cut-up GARDEIN Chick’n Patty. I know a lot of people don’t like meat replacements but this one is just DELICIOUS and it adds a punch to my salad.
  • About 1/2 cup of drained white beans from a can.
  • Some italian dressing

Eventually I’d like to start cooking the white beans myself (Easy ideas?) and I’d like to make my own dressing (Easy recipes? I like Italian dressings with red pepper) to really seal the deal but otherwise? This salad is MY BOMB. I look forward to eating it every day. I don’t look forward to making it, it has stretched out my morning prep a lot…BUT! I think it’s worth it.

This week was kinda the first week I’ve gotten “on track” with my eating. I’m trying to not think about the 15-20lbs I’ve gained in the last few months. (Especially because I’m on steroids for a hideous bought of infected poison ivy and no one should sept on the scale when they’re on steroids.) I’m just focusing on tracking my health (water intake, food etc) and moods (I’ll talk about how I’m tracking my moods later) and just trying to really think about what I need when I am craving a STERB. Do I really need that bag of french fries? How will my body process that and how will it affect my mood? I have “alternatives” I’m trying to go to that will “disrupt the negative energy” like food does: Make an Eboost Water, Make a cup of coffee, walk around the building, stretch etc. Trying to disrupt that energy in a more HEALTHY way.

So far, so good. I mean, I have a kickass salad…what more do I need, right?

Beans and Greens – Lazy Herbivore Style

I’ve been working on three different recipes lately – all involving my crockpot and beens and some green vegetable. I thought I’d share them with you. As always – please remember this is NOT a recipe blog. I never do anything the exact same way twice because I’m lazy and that would require writing something down. These are GENERAL recipes and APPROXIMATELY what I do each time but if I’m out of something, or if I don’t have the right time frame, things change constantly. I rarely strain beans, sometimes I sauté onions to add in, sometimes I add garlic. It’s a wonderland over here, people. Don’t come for the recipes.

All of these would be perfect cooked on low for about 4 hours…I think. My crockpot overcooks and I now work all day so I set my crockpot for 6 hours and it keeps it on warm until I get home, but I always feel like things are a bit mushy for my taste. If I were doing this on the weekend? 4 hours on low – max. Also – I eat all of this for lunch all week, so if you’re cooking for just one meal with a 4-person family? You will have leftovers.

Mexican Beans and Greens! Black Beans and Spinach

  • 4 cans of Black Beans
  • 3 cans of Rotel (I use 2 original, 1 hot)
  • 16 oz bag of frozen corn
  • 16 oz bag of cut spinach
  • Enough water to make sure everything is just covered. If you like it more like a soup? Fill the pot to the brim with water.

Dump it all in the crockpot for 4 hours on low. (If you’re gone all day, tell it 6 hours on low and it stays warm until you get home.) The BEST way to eat this is to really strain the fluids and wrap it in tortillas like burritos! But, I’ve also cooked some quick rice to go with it AND I’ve eaten it straight out of a bowl. One other thing I’ve done which may not sound good to ANYONE but me: Slice a green pepper in half. Strip the innards out. Heat sliced pepper in the microwave for 2 minutes if you have a sensitive stomach and can’t handle raw vegetables. (ME! ME! ME!) Scoop some of this stuff (with a slotted spoon to let the fluids drain) into the peppers. Eat it by slicing and then you get some crunch pepper mixed with the Mexican goodness and it’s LOVELY!

OPTIONS! The Lazy Herbivore is all about variety. As long as it’s easy variety.

Cajun Beans and Greens! Black-eyed Peas and Okra

  • 4 cans of black-eyed peas
  • 3 cans of Rotel (I use 2 original, 1 hot)
  • 1 carton of vegetable stock
  • 1 bag of frozen okra
  • 1 Tbsp of Cajun season (if you like it HOT! I forgot the cajun seasoning last week and it was fine. #WhyIAmNotARecipeBlogger)

Dump it all in the crockpot for 4 hours on low. (Since I’m gone all day I tell it 6 hours on low and it stays warm until I get home.) If I’m doing this on the weekend and not in a hurry? I’ll sauté some onions to throw in there too. I like cooking white rice and mixing all of this together to make it really like gumbo. BUT! Rice takes forever so if Donnie doesn’t get home before me to start the rice, I just eat it plain in a bowl.

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Southern Beans and Greens! White beans and Collars

  • 4 cans of white beans (I’ve used Cannelini, Pinto, and Northern…all work great)
  • 1 carton of vegetable stock
  • 1 16 oz bag of cut frozen collards
  • 1 packet of Knorr’s vegetable soup
  • Enough to keep everything covered

Dump it all in the crockpot for 4 hours on low. (Since I’m gone all day I tell it 6 hours on low and it stays warm until I get home.) This is okay with rice too, but this one really is my favorite just to eat it in a bowl OR! OR! OR! If you’re not vegan? Whip up some cornbread to go with it. YUMMY. I miss cornbread. (Don’t bother with vegan cornbread recipes. I miss the standard, blue box cornbread. I don’t like cornbread in general so I probably wouldn’t like the vegan variations.)

Why Share Such Unorganized Recipes, Zoot?

I have no idea why I share with you all these type of “WHAT I AM EATING!” posts since I’m so crappy at keeping recipes. But these three things have all become a staple because they’re easy, they make dinner ready when I get home, and I can serve them in different ways for a variety. But most importantly? LEFTOVERS. I take lunch to work every day and taking leftovers is way easier than anything else.

I love recipes that have beens and some other vegetable mixed in. The more the merrier! Do you have any other combinations I could try?

About That Spicy Okra…

It’s April 1st! Yay! I can bid farewell to the month that always makes me depressed but this year seemed to really kick me in the butt. March of 2015 now ranks up there with the crappiest of all Marches in my life.

(What? You don’t rank your crappy Marches? You should!)

The kids are playing Spring soccer this year instead of softball/baseball – and last night Wes and I kicked the ball, played in the drainage pipes, and laid in the grass while waiting for Nikki’s practice to end. It was lovely. It’s so nice to be able to enjoy the outdoors without a coat, or 14 million curse words about the heat and humidity. Spring lasts about 1-2 weeks here in Alabama, then we usually get one more surge of winter (which hopefully was this past weekend) then we get 1-2 more weeks before the impossible heat and humidity of summer settles in.

Remember how I talked about the spicy okra yesterday? Well here it is today! This is another “recipe” to file under the Lazy Herbivore category in your pinterest board. I have to put “recipe” in quotes because it’s not a perfect formula and I’m too lazy to try to make it one. I’m telling you approximately what I did and how it tasted and you can take it and do with it what you please! (I need to write an official Lazy Herbivore Disclaimer to use when I post “recipes” around here.)

So! I took the following ingredients and dumped them in a crock pot on high. This cooks a crap load of food. You could probably cut it in half for a 4+ person meal but I like leftovers.

okra

  • 1 32oz carton of vegetable broth
  • 4 cans of drained black eyed peas
  • 3 cans of Rotel (I used 1 hot, 2 original…I think 3 original might have been too bland.)
  • 1 16oz bag of frozen okra

I also sautéed one green bell pepper and half of a white onion in some olive oil for awhile and dumped those in. It’s probably not necessary it just makes me feel less lazy if I do something like that on top of the intense can opening and bag cutting.

I cooked that on high for 4+ hours and then I cooked some white rice to serve it over.

NOW! I ended up adding the leftover rice in with the rest of the pot and the rice (about 2 cups uncooked) soaked up all of the deliciousness so now my leftovers are more like gumbo which…BONUS! Is also delicious! It’s like two different meals! It’s lovely!

Lazy Spicy Collards

Preface: This was supposed to be a “recipe” entry but I kinda got wordy about being a #LazyHerbivore and the recipe is, like, a million words away. Feel free to skip all of the crap in the middle. And remember – my recipes are lazy at best. It’s more like, “Here’s some crap I through in a crock pot and it turned out tasty.”

Oh! If I ever do a cookbook that will be the title: Crap Vegans Can Throw In A Crockpot That Will Turn Out Tasty.

I’ve struggled with the word “vegan” since day 01 of giving up eating animal products. It started because I learned that the word has a VERY STRICT definition. It’s not like being “gluten intolerant” which can range from [Gluten Destroys My Intestines So I Absorb No Nutrients And Can Become Malnourished] to [Bread Makes Me Gassy]. No. Vegan is very specific and I learned (from vegans and non-vegans alike, non-vegans are actually MUCH QUICKER to point out when you’re doing something wrong, I have found) that I shouldn’t use unless it I follow the strict letter of the law.

Honey and Wool

See, calling myself a vegan would mean I would stop eating honey (which I don’t eat often but I buy at our Farmer’s Market and do enjoy sometimes) and stop wearing my favorite wool running socks (which I won’t do because I love them too much). And those two things probably aren’t going to happen. I actually know people who make their OWN HONEY. (No smoke involved!) Some do it as part of a bigger ecosystem to support other gardens and what not. And I love my socks! So, yeah, probably not going to give those up.

Donuts

Donuts are my comfort food and when I’m having a really bad day, they bring me joy. And yes, that is part of a bigger issue as it relates to my relationship with food. But for right now, let’s just stick to the fact that donuts make me happy and so sometimes I eat them. And while I’m fairly certain I could give those up eventually? I’m at a stressful point in my life right not and IT IS NOT HAPPENING.

Unknown Ingredients

There are these websites and apps where you can search ingredients you see listed and y’all? I’m too lazy to do that. If I think something should be vegan but it might have ingredients I don’t recognize? I’m not going to search it out. I have memorized things like: Vegan breads. Or tortillas that were made with vegetable oils instead of animal fat. I have done research, but I’m not googling ever item that I eat to make sure: THIS BETTER BE VEGAN.

Rudeness

I don’t want to turn down food someone who didn’t know better made me. And I don’t want to make someone cook something special for me. Now, I usually eat before I go places if I don’t know for sure (I did that this Sunday, as a matter of fact, just ate first!) or I bring a frozen vegan burrito with me if I’m going somewhere that I know they wouldn’t care for me to heat it up. But there have been a few incidents where I’ve enjoyed something somewhere simply because I didn’t want to seem rude or ungrateful.

SO! I’ve settled on being the #LazyHerbivore. I tell people who ask that I eat vegan when I’m in charge of my own food but that I don’t use the word vegan as I’m not very disciplined. I also don’t like cooking so I depend a lot on my crockpot and on stir-fry so I don’t want people thinking I’m doing green smoothies and cauliflower pizzas when in reality I’m doing bean burritos and vegan chili.

But the strangest thing of all, has been how I’ve had to really face a lot of demons in relation to my feelings about “what people think about me”. I mean, I am very vocal about a lot of controversial things but I guess – because they’re controversial – no one seems to really confront me about them. People don’t challenge me about my atheism or my stance on gay marriage or the fact that I’m pro-choice. (Sidenote: I prefer “pro-reproductive rights” because so much of anti-abortion legislation effects people with fertility issues.) No – people don’t confront me about those often so I can live in this little world where I assume no one cares and they still love me regardless!

But people have NO PROBLEM confronting me about my eating habits. A few months ago a guy started snarking on me out of the blue, making fun of me when I said I’m vegan. I had someone just meanly confront me about the honey thing early on. “YOU CAN’T EAT THAT IF YOU’RE VEGAN!” I even had someone point out a (fake) leather belt once and say, “Hope that’s not leather!” And of course ALL of them were meat eaters. So, I find myself doing that thing I did in middle school where I’m constantly imagining people complaining about me behind my back.

“Kim and this vegan thing, what is up with that? How long do you think she’ll stick to it? What a pain in the ass. The only place we can all go eat together is Anaheim Chili because of her weirdo eating habits. It’s so annoying.”

Seriously. I have these visions of people bitching about me when we’re planning outings or family gatherings or work events. It’s awful. And my lone vegan running friend had to MOVE, damn her. NOW IT’S ALL ON ME.

So, while the Plant Based lifestyle has really changed the way I think about food and where it comes from, and I’m so glad I made the change, it has REALLY challenged me to try to try not to be a 12-year old girl all over again and to stop projecting my own insecurities onto other people. Most of the people in my life don’t care, and if they do care? That’s not my problem, right?

RIGHT??!?!?!?! (Says the 12-year old insecure Kim.)

Oh my goodness. Would you believe that my goal with this entry was actually to share a recipe with you? Can you believe I’ve written almost 1,000 words and still haven’t gotten to the recipe? MAN. I need to add a note in the beginning. Hang on.

Okay! Preface Added! Now for the “recipe”.

Lazy Spicy Collards

All I did was throw a bag of frozen collards and three cans of rotel (Ideally I do 3 cans of “chunky” but only one store I go to has that so I’ll do 2 original and 1 hot for an extra kick) into a crockpot on high for 3 hours and BAM! A delicious side dish that I added to meals for DAYS. I do keep an eye on the moisture level and have added up to a can of water if it cooks too low. My crockpot’s “HIGH” setting sometimes gets a little too “HIGH” (If a recipe says 4 hours on “high” mine does it in 3 or less.) so I can’t just walk away. But maybe you can, I don’t know!

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Either way – it’s my new weekly “Go To” because it goes good with EVERYTHING. One day I even added some sliced mushrooms I needed to get rid of once and it turned out good. Obviously you could do fresh collards but, you know…#LazyHerbivore and all. I do stir fry fresh stuff sometimes. But if it’s a crockpot night? I’m in the mood for comfort food and my most comforting meals are the ones that require no effort whatsoever.

Spicy Collard Greens + Black Eyed Peas and White Rice = #LazyHerbivore lunch!

A photo posted by Kim Holmes (@misszoot) on

My First Vegan Family Dinner

As you guys know if you’ve been here awhile, my Huntsville Family gathers for Sunday dinner every week, rotating between houses. Both of Donnie’s siblings live here as do his parents so we usually host once every 3-4 weeks depending on schedules. Last night it was our turn to host because I wanted to be in charge of cooking the meal where we celebrated my birthday! And I wanted to do the entire thing vegan.

Now. I’ve been doing this for over 45 days now, but only for me. And while I’ve found several staples I love, none of it was really easy to do to accommodate 12 people unless we did Mexican food. And I didn’t want to do that because my brother-in-law cooks the best Mexican food in all the land and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Last week I decided to do a trial run of two main things: Vegan Sloppy Joes and Vegan Cake. Then, last night I did my final versions of those recipes and then cooked roasted corn and sweet potato fries as well. I bought them buns and ate my food on English Muffins, if I was cooking for vegans I obviously would have fed everyone English muffins. I also gave them vanilla ice cream as an option instead of just sorbet. But for the most part? It was an entirely vegan meal.

I started with this recipe for the vegan sloppy joes but modified it quite a bit on that first trial run because I’m really trying to keep things simple so that I’ll actually keep them in my arsenal of recipes. It was a little tomato-y for my taste, I felt like all I tasted was the tomato paste. So, for the 12-people version I did even more modifications and it went GREAT. Now, this is NOT A RECIPE BLOG. I do not measure everything with precisions nor do I make note of every addition throughout the process nor do I photograph or anything. Most measurements are in teaspoons because I kept adding until I was satisfied, you could convert it easily to TB measurements too. This is basically just me documenting a successful attempt.

Zoot’s Vegan Sloppy Joes

SERVES 12 VERY HUNGY PEOPLE. AND THEN YOU’LL STILL HAVE LEFTOVERS.

Ingredients

  • 5 cans of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 3 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha Sauce>
  • 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 5 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Instructions
Basically I dumped it all in a large skillet and cooked on Med-High for awhile, constantly smashing it to crunch up the chickpeas. I probably did that for 30 minutes. Then I lowered it to medium and came back every 5 minutes or so to smoosh. Once it got broken up enough to almost start to look like sloppy joes, I left it on low/simmer and just stirred/smooshed once in awhile, letting it soften and cook and soak up the flavor for about 3 hours. That wasn’t intentional, that’s just how my day worked. You probably could simmer it for an hour an be fine. I did have to add a little bit of water eventually because it was getting too thick, but depending on how long you cook that may not be necessary.

Vegan Strawberry Cake

photo 3I had learned a long time ago that some cake mixes and icings are “accidentally vegan” (Good info here and here. Now, if I was cooking for vegans I would double-check ingredients still passed the test because things can change.) so I did my trial runs using this as guidance but nothing really looked/tasted like birthday cake. I was going for something fruity and it all turned out more like cobbler. Delicious cobble, but cobble none-the-less. Then I found this recipe and I used a strawberry cake mix and strawberry icing from the “vegan” lists and it was PERFECT. We did not tell anyone the “secret” ingredient was chickpea until after they were eating it and they didn’t believe us. It was ALMOST solid enough to have cooked in the circle pans and stacked like a “real” cake but not quite. But it tasted like birthday cake and looked like birthday cake and it went fantabulous with the raspberry and peach sorbet’s I bought.

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This was the pan before we went to bed last night. There wasn’t much left when the family left, so Donnie, Wes and I sat around and finished it off. Donnie even swore he thought it was better than “real” birthday cake.

All in all? It was a hit.

Like I said – I don’t know if that would work for a dinner of Vegans because I didn’t triple check the ingredients on everything, I just trusted older articles. And I’ve learned there are “hidden” animal products in things that are processed. In my day-to-day life I mainly avoid processed stuff that hasn’t been “certified vegan” for that reason, but cooking for 11 omnivores I just did the best I could. If anything I’ve referenced is actually not vegan, don’t stress. Let me know but don’t panic thinking I’m cooking this same meal for militant vegans. I’ve actually decided to avoid militant vegans in my life because, so far, they’ve been the worst part of this experience. But, if you know something I did, used isn’t vegan, let me know (politely, please) for my own personal reference.

In the end it worked for me and it gave my family a good feel for how I’ve been eating for 45 days. Win/Win!